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Streamnotes: November 27, 2023
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 October 31. Past reviews and more information are available here (22600+ records).
Jason Adasiewicz: Roscoe Village: The Music of Roscoe Mitchell (2023, Corbett vs. Dempsey): Vibraphonist, Chicago's go-to guy for the instrument since the early 2000s. He notes that "tuned metal percussion figures prominently in the sound universe of Roscoe Mitchell," so decided to give it a try with a solo album. Nice, but I don't quite get it. Nice piece of art on the album cover, too. B+(**) [bc]
Ambrose Akinmusire: Beauty Is Enough (2023, Origami Harvest): Trumpet player, from Oakland, became a star when Blue Note picked up his second album in 2010, and remained near the top of the polls with five albums through 2020. However, this self-released solo album appeared with little fanfare, and will remain an item of minor interest. B+(*) [sp]
Susan Alcorn/Septeto Del Sur: Canto (2023, Relative Pitch): Pedal steel guitarist, from Baltimore, debut 2000, Discogs credits her with 30 albums. She's joined here by a Chilean folk group, playing and improvising on her compositions, and singing a Victor Jara song to close. B+(**) [cd]
Lina Allemano/Axel Dörner: Aphelia (2019 , Relative Pitch): Two trumpet duets, oscillating between ambient and drone with occasional farts. B+(*) [sp]
JD Allen: This (2023, Savant): Tenor saxophonist, introduced himself in 1998, mostly works in trios, but this is the first to employ electronics (Alex Bonney) in place of bass, with Gwilym Jones on drums. The electronics works well enough, but it still comes down to the man with the horn. B+(***) [sp]
Rodrigo Amado/The Bridge: Beyond the Margins (2022 , Trost): Portuguese tenor saxophonist, easily one of the top half-dozen in the world since 2000, which should suffice here, but pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach is a special treat here, and the interaction is so masterful Gerry Hemingway and Ingebrigt Håker Flaten got in on the action. Beware: it does get a little rowdy. A [cd]
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Dynamic Maximum Tension (2023, Nonesuch): Canadian big band composer/arranger, studied under Bob Brookmeyer, fourth album since 2009, an extra large one (111 minutes). Not something I'm inclined to get excited about, but fine soloists, some very nice segments, works as background but gets better when you tune in. B+(***) [sp]
Atlantic Road Trip: One (2023, Calligram): Quintet, recorded in Chicago, so it was probably Scottish alto saxophonist Paul Towndrow tripping, meeting up with trumpet player Chad McCullough, backed with vibes, bass, and drums. B+(**) [cd]
Balimaya Project: When the Dust Settles (2023, New Soil): West African (Mandé) group, based in London, led by djembe player Yahael Camara Onono, second album. Vocals suggest afropop, but they're playing for a jazz crowd. B+(***) [sp]
Maria Baptist Quintet: Essays on Jazz (2023, self-released, 2CD): German pianist, several albums since 2002, quintet with two saxophonists (Jan Von Klewitz and Richard Maegraith), bass, and drums, a rather rousing postbop group. Long: 108 minutes. B+(***) [sp]
Bruce Barth Trio: Dedication (2021 , Origin): Pianist, from Pasadena, first records (c. 1985) were with George Russell, then Orange Then Blue. Trio with bass (Vicente Archer) and drums (Montez Coleman). B+(**) [sp]
Dave Bayles Trio: Live at the Uptowner (2023, Calligram): Drummer, based in Milwaukee, first album, joined by bassist Clay Schaub (who wrote 5 of 9 songs), and trumpet player Russ Johnson (who wrote 3, and arranged the Monk cover). Very nice showcase for Johnson, who has long impressed. A- [cd]
Carlos "Bechegas"/João Madeira/Ulrich Mitzlaff: Open in Finder (2023, 4DaRecord): Flute, bass, cello. B+(*) [bc]
Jerry Bergonzi: Extra Extra (2023, Savant): Tenor saxophonist, steady stream of albums since 1984, With Sheryl Bailey (guitar), Harvie S (bass), Luther Gray (drums), plus Phil Grenadier (trumpet) on 3 tracks. B+(*) [sp]
John Bishop: Antwerp (2023, Origin): Drummer, from Seattle, runs this mainstream label, which did much to put Seattle in the jazz map, and has since branched out, especially to Chicago, Denver, and wherever UNT alumni gather, and here to Belgium, for a trio with Bram Weiters (piano) and Piet Verbist (bass) -- familiar names, especially if you've been on the label's mailing list. B+(**) [cd]
Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band: Kings Highway (2023, Stoner Hill): Drummer, called his 1998 Blue Note debut album Fellowship, which could be taken as the band name, one he's stuck with ever since. With original members Jon Cowherd (keyboards), Myron Walden (alto sax), Melvin Butler (tenor/soprano sax), and Christopher Thomas (bass), the only change Kurt Rosenwinkel taking over guitar (from Jeff Parker). B+(*) [sp]
BlankFor.Ms/Jason Moran/Marcus Gilmore: Refract (2022 , Red Hook): Electronica producer Tyler Gilmore, has a couple previous albums, joined here by two well known jazz musicians, on piano and drums. The electronics help out, and the pianist is formidable, though it all slows down on the backstretch. B+(***) [sp]
Bombino: Sahel (2023, Partisan): Tuareg guitarist and songwriter from Agadez, Niger, Omara Moctar, fifth studio album since 2011, all pretty much equal. B+(***) [sp]
Boygenius: The Rest (2023, Interscope, EP): Four songs, 12:06, could easily have fit on The Record, but sucker-priced at $12 for CD, $20 for vinyl. No reason to trust me on them, but I do keep trying, and it's not much of a burden. B [sp]
Rob Brown: Oceanic (2021 , RogueArt): Alto saxophonist, records since 1989, I associate him mostly with William Parker's groups. Solo here. B+(***) [cdr]
Rob Brown Quartet: Oblongata (2022 , RogueArt): Alto saxophonist (also plays some flute), joined by Steve Swell (trombone), Chris Lightcap (bass, and Chad Taylor (drums), in a superb free set. A- [cdr]
Zach Bryan: Summertime Blues (2022, Warner, EP): Country singer-songwriter, has produced a lot since his 2019 debut, releasing this 9-song, 28:07 "EP" less than two months after his double album American Heartbreak (34 songs, 121:21). B+(**) [sp]
Zach Bryan: Boys of Faith (2023, Warner, EP): Five songs, 15:59, title track shared with Bon Iver, another with Noah Kahan. B+(**) [sp]
Buck 65: Punk Rock B-Boy (2023, self-released): Venerable rapper from Nova Scotia, dropped this 19-track limited edition cassette (all ten unique copies sold out) by surprise, with a line about the Texas Rangers suggesting he cut that track the day before this dropped. After a layoff, he popped back last year with the superb King of Drums -- so superb I was happy enough when this year's Super Dope sounded just like it. But this one is better still, with the words popping at a pace that justifies his "autodidactic polymath" boast. The beats too, until a change of pace called "Terminal Illiness" seals the deal. A [bc]
Jane Bunnett and Maqueque: Playing With Fire (2023, True North/Linus Entertainment): Canadian soprano saxophonist, formed a bond with Cuban music early in her career (1992, Spirits of Havana), fourth album with this Cuban-Canadian group. I don't doubt the authenticity of the percussion, but I have trouble hearing the vocals as even jazz-adjacent. B+(*) [sp]
John Butcher/Pat Thomas/Dominic Lash/Steve Noble: Fathom (2021 , 577): English avant-saxophonist, records started appearing around 1985, more frequently after 1998. Live set from Cafe Oto, with regulars on piano, bass, and drums. B+(*) [dl]
Calcanhar: Jump (2023, Clean Feed): Portuguese duo, João Mortágua (alto/soprano sax) and Carlos Azevedo (piano), both have previous albums, but not many. B+(*) [bc]
Gunhild Carling: Good Evening Cats (2022, Jazz Art): Swedish singer, multi-instrumentalist (trombone seems to be her first choice, but double bass, banjo, flute, bagpipes, and harp are barely half of the list), started out at 10 in her family's Hot Five band. Old-fashioned swing with a touch of cabaret, not all in English but that just adds to the charm. B+(***) [sp]
Daniel Carter/Leo Genovese/William Parker/Francisco Mela: Shine Hear Vol. 1 (2021 , 577): Sax, piano, bass, drums, with Carter and Parker (who also plays gralla and shakuhachi) going way back. B+(**) [dl]
Joan Chamorro & Friends: Jazz House Sessions With Scott Hamilton (2023, Associació Sant Andreu Jazz Band): Spanish bassist, sometime saxophonist, has led several bands, principally the swing-oriented Sant Andreu Jazz Band (others worth noting include Barcelona Hot Seven and the Fu Manchu Jazz Servants). He has a dozen or so albums where he "presents" guests, starting with Scott Robinson in 2011. This one collects pieces from four sessions, going back to 2013 (but no specific credits). Hamilton sounds terrific with a hard-swinging band. I'm less taken by the vocals, which sound Brazilian. B+(**) [sp]
Chief Adjuah: Bark Out Thunder Roar Out Lightning (2023, Ropeadope): Or Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah, anything but Christian Scott, who's not only lost his name but his trumpet too, here playing n'goni, other African-inspired instruments, and singing, although the latter often draws on the chiefs of New Orleans Indians. B+(***) [sp]
CMAT: Crazymad, for Me (2023, AWAL): Irish singer-songwriter, initials for Ciara Mary Alice Thompson, second album, impressive range with some pop hooks, has some serious props, but doesn't quite sit right with me. B+(***) [sp]
Emmet Cohen: Master Legacy Series Volume 5: Featuring Houston Person (2023, Bandstand): Pianist, has a few volumes from 2011 on featuring his own estimable work, along side this series, which started with Jimmy Cobb, Ron Carter, and Tootie Heath before moving on to the saxophonists, adding Benny Golson to the Heath volume, followed by George Coleman, and now Person -- who, by the way, sounds fabulous right out of the gate. With Yasushi Nakamura (bass) and Kyle Poole (drums). A- [sp]
Sylvie Courvoisier: Chimaera (2022 , Intakt, 2CD): Swiss pianist, many albums since 1997, leads a sextet through a series of extended compositions, inspired by painter Odilon Redon ("a universe of symbolism, dreams and fantasy"). Group includes two trumpets (Wadada Leo Smith and Nate Wooley), Christian Fennesz (guitar/electronics), Drew Gress (bass), and Kenny Wollesen (drums/vibes). This would sit nicely in one of Smith's recent boxes. A- [sp]
Yussef Dayes: Black Classical Music (2023, Brownswood/Nonesuch): British drummer, first solo album although he had a group called United Vibrations, and duos with Kamaal Williams and Tom Misch. Big album (19 songs, 73:54), a dozen guest spots, I wouldn't say it's jazz, much less classical, but crosses over into a rarefied atmosphere of groove and light, an ambience you can dance in. A- [sp]
Mike DiRubbo: Inner Light (2023, Truth Revolution): Alto saxophonist, tenth release as leader, backed by a organ (Brian Charette), guitar (Andrew Renfroe), drums (Jongkuk Kim) trio, soul jazz but in the church of Coltrane. B+(***) [cd]
DJ Shadow: Action Adventure (2023, Mass Appeal): Electronics producer Josh Davis, early records Endtroducing (1996) and, especially, The Private Press (2002), are favorites, with nothing else -- only four studio albums before this one -- close. Synth beats recognizable, but he's lost the ability to hook a vocal sample, like "what you gonna do now?" B+(*) [sp]
Dry Thrust: The Less You Sleep (2020 , Trost): Trio of Georg Graewe (organ), Martin Siewert (guitar, electronics), and Didi Kern (drums). Graewe is well known as an avant-pianist. The other have been kicking around the fringe since the late 1990s, with Kern's background mostly in noise-rock (but lately he's popped up with Gustafsson and Vandermark). Interesting but scattered: your basic organ trio improvising not on soul-groove but on no-wave noise. B+(*) [sp]
Antoine Drye With Strings: Retreat to Beauty (Oblation Vol. 3: Providence!) (2021 , Cellar Music): Trumpet player, 2003 debut titled Oblation, so this has been slow coming. Strings just add some sweetener, setting up the voice at the end. B+(*) [sp]
Paul Dunmall Ensemble: It's a Matter of Fact (2022 , Discus Music): British saxophonist (tenor/soprano here), very polific since 1986, ensemble here with Julie Tippetts (voice), Martin Archer (alto/baritone sax), trumpet, trombone, guitar, bass, and drums. B+(**) [bc]
Paul Dunmall: Bright Light a Joyous Celebration (2022 , Discus Music): The saxophonist leads a sextet here, with two more saxophonists (Soweto Kinch and Xhosa Cole), vibes (Corey Mwamba), bass (Dave Kane), and drums (Hamid Drake). The drummer goes without saying, but I'm really impressed by the vibes here, and the saxophones live up to the title. A- [bc]
Paul Dunmall New Quartet: World Without (2021 , 577): Tenor/alto sax, backed by guitar (Steven Saunders), bass (Dave Kane), and drums (Mike Levin). Intense, for better or worse. B+(**) [dl]
Mia Dyberg Trio: Timestretch (2022 , Clean Feed): Danish alto saxophonist, several albums since 2016, free jazz trio with bass (Asger Thomsen) and drums (Simon Forschhammer). B+(*) [sp]
Nataniel Edelman Trio: Un Ruido De Agua (2022 , Clean Feed): Pianist, from Argentina, second album, a trio with featured names on the cover: Michael Formanek (bass), and Michaël Attias (alto sax). Quite nice. B+(***) [bc]
Kurt Elling: SuperBlue: The London Sessions (2022, Edition, EP): Live rehash of his "Grammy-nominated" 2021 SuperBlue, five tracks (28:12), with Charlie Hunter (hybrid guitar) bringing the funk. He cuts the shit, revealing what could pass for soul (e.g., "Lonely Avenue"). B+(*) [bc]
Kurt Elling/Charlie Hunter/Neal Smith: SuperBlue: Guilty Pleasures (2022 , Edition, EP): Vocals, hybrid guitar, drums: Bandcamp page parses this differently (Smith is a "feat."; "Superblue" vanishes), but title and all three names on the cover, as well as a "3" I don't know what to do with. Pretty flash rhythm work recasts the singer as funk, despite the scat. Six songs, 22:08. B+(*) [bc]
Kurt Elling/Charlie Hunter: SuperBlue: The Iridescent Spree (2023, Edition): A skilled jazz singer, started out around 1998, highly regarded by most critics but one I can only rarely stand. The partnership with Hunter gives him an agreeable groove to work from, and reins in his worst effects. So more tolerable. Big deal. B [sp]
Peter Evans [Being & Becoming]: Ars Memoria (2022-23 , More Is More): Trumpet player, formerly of Mostly Other People Do the Killing, group name derived from a 2020 album, also with Joel Ross (vibes) and Nick Jozwlak (bass), but with a different drummer: this time it's Michael Shekwoaga Ode. B+(***) [bc]
Robert Finley: Black Bayou (2023, Easy Eye Sound): Bluesman from Louisiana, got a late start with a debut at 1962, called it Age Don't Mean a Thing, but in his genre age brings gravitas, which is what it's all about. Seven years later, turns out that even he sees age means something after all. B+(**) [sp]
Sue Foley: Live in Austin Vol. 1 (2023, Stony Plain): Blues singer-songwriter from Ottawa, moved to Vancouver and then to Austin, releasing Young Girl Blues in 1992. I always liked her, and much of this is familiar, most likely drawing on her better albums. B+(**) [sp]
George Freeman: The Good Life (2022 , HighNote): Guitarist from Chicago, at 96 still the younger brother of saxophonist Von Freeman. Two sessions here, one with organ (Joey DeFrancesco, a couple months before he died) and drums (Lewis Nash), the other with bass (Christian McBride) and drums (Carl Allen). B+(**) [sp]
Eric Friedlander: She Sees (2023, Skipstone): Cellist, reconvenes his 2020 Sentinel band -- hard-edged guitarist Ava Mendoza and percussionist Diego Espinosa -- and adds electric bassist Stomu Takeishi. B+(*) [sp]
George Gee Swing Orchestra: Winter Wonderland (2023, self-released): Bandleader, formed his swing band in 1980, and a later 10-piece group called Jump, Jive & Wailers (after the Louis Prima song), but I'm not finding albums for either. (I have a 2007 release in my database.) Xmas music always brings out the bah humbug in me, and this did at first, but the brass section softened me up, then I loved their take on the merely Xmas-adjacent "Baby It's Cold Outside" (criss-crossing vocals by Hilary Gardner and John Dokes, not quite Armstrong and Fitzgerald but really great). I even found myself enjoying "The Christmas Song" after that (if not "O Tannenbaum" and "Jingle Bells"). B+(**) [cd]
Kate Gentile: Find Letter X (2021-23 , Pi, 3CD): Drummer, based in New York, several albums since 2015, including a 6-CD 2021 box with pianist Matt Mitchell that was too much for me to handle. Mitchell returns here, with electronics as well, Kim Cass (acoustic and electric bass), and Jeremy Viner (tenor sax, clarinet, bass clarinet). Might be remarkable, but that there's so much of it makes it hard to tell (or care). B+(***) [dl]
Terry Gibbs Legacy Band: The Terry Gibbs Songbook (2022 , Whaling City Sound): Vibraphonist, birth name Julius Gubenko, recorded for Savoy in 1951, kicking off a very long career, leading his Dream Band, up to a fine 2017 record called 92 Years Young. At 98, he's even credited with a bit of "2-fingered piano" here (also the amuising "vocals on track 4"). The sextet features singer Danny Bacher and tenor saxophonists Scott Hamilton and Harry Allen, with son Gerry Gibbs on drums. B+(***) [sp]
Lafayette Gilchrist: Undaunted (2022 , Morphius): Pianist, started out in David Murray's quartet, a dozen-plus albums since 1999. Sextet here, with Brian Settles (tenor sax), Christian Hizon (trombone), bass, drums, and percussion. B+(**) [sp]
Frode Gjerstad With Matthew Shipp: We Speak (2022 , Relative Pitch): Norwegian alto saxophonist, started in the early 1980s with Detail, then Circulasione Totale Orchestra. Also plays clarinet here, in duets with piano. Hard to think of anyone better in that role than Shipp. B+(**) [sp]
Phillip Greenlief/Scott Amendola: Stay With It (2017 , Clean Feed): Saxophonist (alto/tenor, also clarinet), new to me but he released a duo with Amendola (drums) way back in 1995, and has racked up another 54 credits (per Discogs) since then, some of which I've certainly heard. Starts impressively free, loses a bit on the change of pace. B+(***) [sp]
Grupo Frontera: El Comienzo (2023, VHR Music): Mexican-American group from Edinburg, in the southern tip of Texas. First album. B+(**) [sp]
Gabriel Guerrero & Quantum: Equilibrio (2019 , Origin): Pianist, born in Colombia, based in New York, website shows this as third album as leader vs. one side credit, Discogs has the split 0-5. Group here is mostly quartet, with sax (Seth Trachy), bass, and drums, with strings on one track and percussion on another, playing complex originals. B+(**) [cd]
Rich Halley Quartet: Fire Within (2023, Pine Eagle): Tenor saxophonist from Portland, Oregon, has turned his retirement project into a remarkable career. (Checking myself, I find that he had a few albums as far back as 1986 before I first noticed him in 2005 with Mountains and Plains, and that he was only 58 then, but the model stuck in my head, partly because I have other examples, like Fred Anderson and Mort Weiss.) I can't say that he's getting better, but he's been remarkably inspired for two decades, aided here by his best rhythm section ever: Matthew Shipp (piano), Michael Bisio (bass), and Newman Taylor Baker (drums). A- [cd] [12-01]
Matthew Halsall: An Ever Changing View (2023, Gondwana): British trumpet player, 11th album since 2008, also plays keyboards and many percussion instruments, and is credited with several field recordings. He likens this to landscape painting, which gives you the idea. B+(**) [sp]
Scott Hamilton Quartet: At PizzaExpress Live: In London (2022 , PX): Tenor saxophonist, has been "a good wind" blowing retro-swing since 1978, here with his long-running quartet of John Pearce (piano), Dave Green (bass), and Steve Brown (drums), playing standards with consummate ease and grace. B+(***) [sp]
Fritz Hauser & Pedro Carneiro: Pas De Deux (2022 , Clean Feed): Swiss drummer, his Solodrumming from 1985 is highly regarded. Joined here by Carneiro, on marimba. Pretty minimal. B [bc]
Hermanos Gutiérrez: El Bueno Y El Malo (2022, Easy Eye Sound): Duo based in Switzerland, brothers Estevan and Alejandro, father Swiss, mother from Ecuador, fifth album, produced in Nashville by Dan Auerbach. Very tasteful instrumental music, mostly guitar, not in any niche. A- [sp]
Eirik Hegdal/Jeff Parker/Ingebrigt Håker Flaten/Øyvind Skarbø: Superless (2022 , Øyvind Jazzforum): Norwegian saxophonist (here: C melody, sopranino, bass clarinet, synth), probably best known for his Team Hegdal, although he's played in the larger Angles configurations, in Gard Nilssen's Supersonic Orchestra, Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, and else where. With guitar, bass, and drums, in an eponymous group album where he wrote five (of 8) compositions. B+(***) [sp]
Scott Hesse Trio: Intention (2023, Calligram): Guitarist, has a self-released album from 1998, a previous trio on Origin from 2015. Based in Chicago, backed by bass (Clark Sommers) and drums (Dana Hall), plays three originals, covers of Coltrane, Shorter, Coleman, and Kern. B+(**) [cd]
Henry Hey: Trio: Ri-Metos (2023, self-released): Pianist, has another Trio album from 2003, but many side credits since 1994, including Rod Stewart and David Bowie, also the fusion band Forq. Drummer Jochen Rüeckert returns from his previous trio, with Joe Martin on bass. All contribute songs, plus a standard and two from Vince Mendoza. B+(***) [dl]
The Hives: The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons (2023, Disques Hives): Swedish rock band, released four albums 1997-2007, one in 2012, now this sixth one. I'm unclear on the back story, but some of the sharpest garage rock I've heard in a long time. B+(***) [sp]
Homeboy Sandman: I Can't Sell These Either (2023, self-released): New York rapper Angelo del Villar II, has dropped short albums/long EPs several times a year since 2007, the best in recent years a compilation of stray tracks called I Can't Sell These, hence the title of this 20-track, 59:07 monster. I suspect the commercial lapses have more to do with uncleared samples than any weakness in the material, which certainly isn't obvious. A- [bc]
William Hooker: Flesh and Bones (2023, Org Music): Avant-drummer, has a long career of going his own way. Drives a sextet here with Ras Moshe (tenor sax/flute), Charles Burnham (violin), On Davis (guitar), and two bassists (Hilliard Greene and Luke Stewart). B+(**) [sp]
Horse Lords: Live in Leipzig (2022 , RVNG Intl., EP): Post-rock group from Baltimore, debut 2012, instrumental (sax, bass, guitar, drums, incorporating electronics. Four songs, 21:46. B+(*) [sp]
David Ian: Vintage Christmas Trio Melody (2023, Prescott): Pianist, can't find him on Discogs but AAJ shows four previous albums: three Vintage Christmas titles, plus one for Valentine's Day. Trio with bass and drums. Best I can say for it is that mid-way I forgot that I was listening to Xmas music, but looking at the song list doesn't suggest why. B [cd]
Mikko Innanen/Stefan Pasborg/Cedric Piromalli: Can You Hear It? (2022 , Clean Feed): Sax (sopranino/alto/baritone, oboe), drums, organ, with Lori Freedman voice (two tracks). B+(**) [bc]
I.P.A.: Grimsta (2022 , Cuneiform): Norwegian group, fifth album since 2009: Atle Nymo (tenor sax/contrabass clarinet), Magnus Broo (trumpet), Mattias Ståhl (vibes/soprano sax), Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (bass), and Håkon Mjäset Johansen (drums). B+(**) [dl]
Val Jeanty/Candice Hoyes/Mimi Jones: Nite Bjuti (2021 , Whirlwind): Most often title is given as group name, but the individuals (drums/electronics, vocals, bass) also appear on the cover. Jeanty is Haitian, mostly shows up adding electronic mojo to jazz artists (Kris Davis, Wallace Roney, Terri Lyne Carrington). Nice balance against the bass. Vocals could show up on trip-hop. B+(**) [sp]
Jon-Erik Kellso and the EarRegulars: Live at the Ear Inn (2023, Arbors): Trad jazz trumpet player, from Detroit, based in New York, where he's led this band on Sunday nights since 2007. This draws on two dates, so there are some personnel shifts, but most tracks feature Scott Robinson (sax), John Allred (trombone), Matt Munisteri (guitar), and Neal Miner (bass). Catherine Russell sings the closer, "Back O' Town Blues." B+(***) [sp]
Snorre Kirk: Top Dog (2021 , Stunt): Drummer, from Denmark, fifth album since 2012, playing original pieces that aim to swing like Ellington and Basie. Quintet, the saxophone divided between Stephen Riley and Michael Blicher, backed by piano, guitar, and bass. Very nice. B+(***) [sp]
Guillermo Klein Quinteto: Telmo's Tune (2023, Sunnyside): Pianist, from Argentina, studied at Berklee, based in New York, albums since 1998, most with larger groups. Quintet here with Chris Cheek (tenor/soprano sax), Leo Genovese (piano), Matt Pavolka (bass), and Allan Mednard (drums). B+(**) [sp]
Russell Kranes/Alex Levine/Sam Weber/Jay Sawyer: Anchor Points (2022 , OA2): Piano, guitar, bass, and drums; half trio (reference to the Nat King Cole Trio), and half with drums. The trio emphasizes the guitar, while the drums gets the pianist going. First album for Kranes, possibly the rest. B+(**) [cd]
L'Rain: I Killed Your Dog (2023, Mexican Summer): Singer-songwriter Taja Cheek, although her songs are more likely to be instrumental vamps with vocals for shading. B+(**) [sp]
Lil Wayne: Tha Fix Before Tha VI (2023, Young Money): Mixtape, a distinction I've never understood, but number 29 for those who keep track of such things. Sounded sharp at first, but kept hitting the same point again and again, until it no longer even resembled a point. B [sp]
Liquid Mike: S/T [Self-Titled] (2023, Kitschy Spirit, EP): Indie group from Marquette, Michigan, with guitar (Mike Maple), synth (Monica Nelson), bass, and drums, the first two singing (but mainly him). Fourth album, everyone uses S/T as the title but cover reads self-titled (twice; format suggests they just unwrapped the cassette artwork). Eleven songs clocking in at 18:06 without feeling rushed. Sound immediately reminded me of Dead Milkmen, but not that funny, and much more into layering. B+(***) [sp]
Liquid Mike: Stuntman (2021, Lost Dog): First album, 14 songs, 30:39. They sort of got their sound together. Now, content maybe? B [sp]
Liquid Mike: You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth (2021, Sweet Chin Music, EP): Seven songs, 17:22. B [sp]
Liquid Mike: A Beer Can and a Bouquet (2022, self-released, EP): Having found three different labels for their three other releases, I had to punt here. They're all on the same Bandcamp, along with a couple of singles, and no branding to be found there. Nine songs, 22:36, enough to pass for an album these days. B+(**) [sp]
Location Location Location [Michael Formanek/Anthony Pirog/Mike Pride]: Damaged Goods (2023, Cuneiform): Bass, guitar, drums, jointly credited, but still mostly the guitarist's record, which is to say fractured fusion. Group name derives from recording this piecemeal, from different places, then splicing it together. B+(*) [dl]
Harold López-Nussa: Timba a la Americana (2023, Blue Note): Cuban pianist, ten or so albums since 2007. Several albums since 2007, this one a quintet with Gregoire Maret plus lots of rhythm. B+(**) [sp]
Hannah Marks: Outsider, Outlier (2022 , Out of Your Head): Bassist (electric & double), from Brooklyn, out on a jazz label but initially sounds more punk (Sarah Rossy singing), then arty, then Nathan Reising inserts a nice alto sax solo, then, well, I don't know. B+(*) [cd]
John Paul McGee: A Gospejazzical Christmas (2023, Jazz Urbano): Pianist, from Baltimore, teaches at Berklee, coined "gospejazzical" in his dissertation on "A Sound for Distressed Souls" -- the "ical" is the tail end of "classical." Probably weighs out to a third of each, stealthily sneaking up on Xmas standards (with one original). B [cd]
Nellie McKay: Hey Guys, Watch This (2023, Hungry Mouse): Started out as a singer-songwriter in 2004, with show biz roots and ambitions, developed as an interpretive singer with her 2009 Doris Day tribute. This is billed as her first album of original material in 13 years. It was recorded in West Virginia with a group called the Carpenter Ants. I'm finding this very confusing, perhaps because it starts off bland and demure, then gets wilder and wierder (including, if I'm following this correctly, plaudits for Hiroshima and Jeremy Dahmer). Highly subject to revision, if I ever have a reason to play this again. B+(**) [sp]
Sarah McKenzie: Without You (2023, Normandy Lane Music): Australian jazz singer, pianist, sixth album since 2011, wrote four songs here, the rest Brazilian standards, mostly Jobim. Done expertly, notably because the guitarist is Romero Lubambo. B+(*) [cd]
Myra Melford's Fire and Water Quintet: Hear the Light Singing (2022 , RogueArt): Pianist, a major figure since 1990, with Mary Halvorson (guitar), Ingrid Laubrock (tenor and soprano sax), Tomeka Reid (cello), and Lesley Mok (drums). Second group album, a rhythmic tour de force. A- [cd]
Mercury [Nicolas Caloia & Lori Freedman]: Skin (2023, Clean Feed): Montreal duo, double bass and clarinets. A little sketchy, especially with so much focus on the bass. B+(**) [bc]
Allison Miller: Rivers in Our Veins (2023, Royal Potato Family): Drummer, debut 2004, original pieces, makes impressive use of a very talented group: Jenny Scheinman (violin), Jason Palmer (trumpet), Ben Goldberg (clarinet/contra-alto clarinet), Carmen Staaf (piano/rhodes/accordion), and Todd Sickafoose (bass), plus some tap dancers. I'm finding it a bit slick and scattered, but perhaps just can't get to the big picture. B+(***) [sp]
Steve Million: Perfectly Spaced (2023, Calligram): Pianist, based in Chicago, albums since 1995, quartet here with Mark Feldman (violin), Eric Hochberg (bass), and Bob Rummage (drums). B+(**) [cd]
Hedvig Mollestad Weejuns: Weejuns (2022 , Rune Grammofon): Norwegian guitarist, double live-album debut with new trio: Ståle Storløken (organ) and Ole Mofjell (drums). B+(***) [r]
Joshua Moshe: Inner Search (2023, La Sape): Saxophonist (soprano/alto/tenor, bass clarinet, synth, piano) from Australia, formerly Joshua Kelly, led the "nu jazz" JK Group), so not a debut. Chasing spirits, often over jazztronica beats. Interesting enough until the ululating. B+(**) [sp]
David Murray/Questlove/Ray Angry: Plumb (2022 , JMI/Outside In Music): Tenor sax/bass clarinet giant, jamming with the drummer and keyboard player from the Roots. Product status is iffy: runs 14 songs, 136 minutes, which can be streamed now, with a 4-LP box is promised for sometime 2024 ($150, "ships in about six months," which sounds more like a reverse twist on loansharking). The Roots guys aren't much more than fit for purpose here, but Murray is once again a tower of strength. A- [sp]
Simon Nabatov 3+2: Verbs (2022 , Clean Feed): Russian pianist, long-based in Germany, the "3" his trio with Stefan Schönegg (bass) and Dominik Mahnig (drums), the "2" adding Leonhard Huhn (alto sax/clarinet) and Philip Zoubek (synthesizers). B+(**) [bc]
Simon Nabatov: Extensions (2022 , Unbroken Sounds): Pianist-led sextet, with Sebastian Gille (saxophones) and Shannon Barnett (trombone), plus two bassists and a drummer. B+(***) [sp]
Thandi Ntuli With Carlos Niño: Rainbow Revisited (2019 , International Anthem): Pianist, from South Africa, also sings, title refers back to a song from her 2019 album. Duo with the percussionist, recorded on his turf in Los Angeles. B+(**) [sp]
Aruán Ortiz: Pastor's Paradox (2022 , Clean Feed): Cuban pianist, based in Brooklyn, has a large and varied body of work. Three more names on the cover: Don Byron (clarinet), Lester St. Louis (cello), and Pheeroan Aklaff (drums), but Yves Dhar takes over cello on two tracks, and Mtume Gant offers spoken word on three, drawing on phrases from Martin Luther King. A- [cd]
Øyvindland Med Eirik Hegdal & Erik Johannessen: Nonett (2021 , Øra Fonogram): Leader, and composer, here is Norwegian trumpet player Øyvind Frøberg Mathisen, who has one previous album under his own name. Featured guests play C melody sax/bass clarinet and trombone, and they're counted in the nonet, along with Karl Hjalmar Nyberg (clarinet/tenor sax), guitar, piano, bass, and drums. B+(**) [sp]
Engin Ozsahin: Conversations in Chaos (2023, self-released): Turkish pianist, studied at New England Conservatory but returned to Istanbul. Second album, sextet, not a lot of details, but sounds like very fancy postbop. B+(**) [sp]
Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: Tryptych II (2022, SMP): Original idea here was to put these duets together in a single "CD-LP-Cassette-Box-Set [which] was specifically recorded for three types of formats." My guess is that the 12-track, 55:42 Tryptych I was the CD, and that this 2-track 36:27 is the LP. Impossible for me to tell whether the music is the same or different, but it's easily equivalent. B+(**) [bc]
Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: Tryptych III (2022, SMP): Reading the fine print more closely, I find that this ("Side A" and "Side B," 30:58) is the cassette version, "a contemplative set with a dramatic ambience." B+(***) [bc]
Ethan Philion Quartet: Gnosis (2023, Sunnyside): Bassist, based in Chicago, debut album in 2022 Meditations on Mingus, offers more meditations with a smaller group: Russ Johnson (trumpet), Greg Ward (alto sax), and Dana Hall (drums). B+(***) [sp]
Robert Prester & Adriana Samargia: Quenara (2023 , Commonwealth Ave. Productions): Piano and voice, normally the singer would get top billing. He has, uh, a previous album from 2013, on this same label. She doesn't, but has a very distinctive voice and delivery on standards as well worn as "You Go to My Head," "Lover Man," "Body and Soul," and "Sophisticated Lady." Not one I especially like, but one she deserves credit for. He wrote the title song, which I've already forgotten. B+(*) [cd] [01-19]
Quartet San Francisco/Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band/Take Six: Raymond Scott Reimagined (2023, ViolinJazz): String quartet led by violinist Jeremy Cohen, trained in classical but prefers "non-traditional and eclectic," a definition that could have been coined for Scott. This is clearly their project, with the other well-established artists, a big band and a vocal group, brought in for scale and depth. With interview snippets from Scott. B+(***) [sp]
R. Ring: War Poems, We Rested (2023, Don Giovanni): Kelley Deal (Breeders) and Mike Montgomery. B+(*) [sp]
Red Hot + Ra: Solar [Sun Ra in Brasil] (2023, Red Hot Org): New York-based 50(c)(3) non-profit, raises money for "organizations on the front lines of global health epidemics, epidemics, and health crises," notably by organizing star-studded benefit albums, starting with Red Hot + Blue in 1990, taking aim at AIDS. Twenty-some albums later, this is neither their first venture into Brazil nor their first to focus on Sun Ra. Eight tracks by as many groups, with Brazilian rhythms where you might expect swing, and some rap mixed in the vocals. B+(***) [sp]
Red Hot + Ra: Nuclear War: A Tribute to Sun Ra: Volume 1 (2023, Red Hot Org): Only four artists here, all very specifically in tune with Sun Ra: Georgia Anne Muldrow (3:39), Angel Bat David (30:25), Malcolm Jiyane Tree-o (12:09), and Irreversible Entanglements (18:22). B+(**) [sp]
Remembrance Quintet: Do You Remember? (2023, Sonboy): DC-based quintet I filed under bassist Luke Stewart's name, with two reedists (Daniel Carter and Jamal Moore), trumpet (Chris Williams), and drums (Tcheser Holmes), opens their "dig deep into humanity's ancestral stream" with spoken word, asking the title question, answering with unsettled horns and rhythm. B+(***) [sp]
Ernesto Rodrigues/João Madeira/Hernâni Faustino: No Strings Attached (2023, Creative Sources): Portuguese avant-string trio, Rodrigues plays violin, the other two double bass, at least for the 8-part "Expecting String Expression" (30:56). This is followed by a 32:00 live set, with Rodrigues on viola. B+(**) [bc]
Jason Roebke: Four Spheres (2022 , Corbett vs. Dempsey): Bassist, has played in many Chicago avant groups since 2000. Quartet here with Edward Wilkerson Jr. (tenor sax, alto clarinet), Mabel Kwan (piano), and Marcus Evans (drums), all (curiously enough) also credited with metronomes. B+(**) [bc]
Sam Ross: Live at the Mira Room, Vol. II (2023, self-released): Pianist, also plays rhodes here (mostly), in a trio with Simba Distis (upright and electric bass) and Dr. Mimi Murid (drums), following up on a similar 2021 album. Also credit the crowd, which is boisterous enough to deserve a credit, and maybe even steal the show. Short: 5 tracks, 29:51. B+(**) [cd]
Ned Rothenberg: Crossings Four (2022 , Clean Feed): Reeds player (bass clarinet, alto sax, clarinet), debut 1981, finds himself in stealthy company here with Sylvie Courvoisier (piano), Mary Halvorson (guitar), and Tomas Fujiwara (drums). B+(***) [bc]
Andreas Røysum Ensemble: Mysterier (2022 , Motvind): Norwegian clarinetist, third group album, twelve-piece group of considerable power, plus vocals that don't help much. B+(**) [sp]
Jerome Sabbagh: Vintage (2020 , Sunnyside): Tenor saxophonist, from France, based in Brooklyn, has a steady stream of mainstream releases since 2004. This one employs Kenny Barron (piano), perhaps looking to renew his lease on Stan Getz. B+(**) [sp]
Sampha: Lahai (2023, Young): British singer-songwriter, parents from Sierra Leone, last name Sisay, plays keyboards, second album, falsetto adds to the r&b effect. B+(*) [sp]
Jeff Sanford's Cartoon Jazz Orchestra: Playland at the Beach (2023, Little Village): Bay Area saxophone/clarinet player, originally from New York, leads a nonet with a couple previous albums, traces his interest in cartoon jazz to Raymond Scott and Carl Stalling (who else?). B+(**) [sp]
A. Savage: Several Songs About Fire (2023, Rough Trade): Parquet Quarts co-frontman, second solo album, with band work between the first (2017) and now. Music and words evince skill and thought, but only so much one can do with his voice, especially at this tempo. B+(**) [sp]
John Scofield: Uncle John's Band (2022 , ECM, 2CD): Guitarist, trio with Vicente Archer (bass) and Bill Stewart (drums). Fourteen songs (86:41), half originals, closes with the Grateful Dead song, opens with "Mr. Tambourine Man." B+(**) [sp]
Dave Sewelson/Stephen Moses/Jochem van Dijk/Steve Holtje: Orca Uprising (2023, MechaBenzaiten): Baritone saxophonist, long-time member of Microscopic Septet, with drums, electric bass, and keyboard. B [bc]
Elijah Shiffer: Star Jelly (2021 , self-released): Alto saxophonist, based in New York, describes this as a "sax-heavy version of a Nwe Orleans-style 'brass' band" -- three or four saxes (the extra is bass sax on 5 of 8 tracks), trumpet, trombone, a revolving cast of stringed instruments, and drums. The trad jazz angle is a sweet spot for me, but the arrangements are very slippery, leaving me with wonder whether what seems exceedingly clever at first will hold up for the long haul. A- [bc]
Elijah Shiffer: City of Birds: Volume 1 (2023, self-released): Ten songs, each named for a bird sighted in New York City. Third album, alto sax, plus Kevin Sun on tenor sax, Dmitry Ishenko (bass), and Colin Hinton (drums). B+(***) [sp]
Apostolos Sideris: Past-Presented (2023, Parallel): Bassist, from Greece, seems to be in Paris now, after Istanbul and New York, with a previous album on a Spanish label. Sextet, with piano (Leo Genovese), ney, violin, bass, drums, extra percussion, with some background vocals. B+(*) [bc]
Troye Sivan: Something to Give Each Other (2023, Capitol): Australian pop singer-songwriter, third album. B+(**) [sp]
Speakers Corner Quartet: Further Out Than the Edge (2023, OTIH): Originally the house band for "the infamous hip-hop/spoken-word open-mic night Speakers' Corner in Brixton, London." Slotted as jazz, but sounds more like trip-hop, with different guests for each song, names (but not voices) I mostly recognize. B+(**) [sp]
Russ Spiegel: Caribbean Blue (2023, Ruzztone Music): Guitarist, albums go back to 1985, has an organ-drums trio here, plus picks up some guests, including Brian Lynch (trumpet 4 of 10 tracks), Tim Armacost (tenor sax on 6, flute on 1), and Hendrik Meurkens (chromatic harmonica on 3). B+(**) [cd]
Hemlocke Springs: Going . . . Going . . . Gone! (2023, Good Luck Have Fun, EP): Isimeme "Naomi" Udu, b. 1998 in North Carolina, of Nigerian immigrant parents, expands two freak electropop singles into a 7-track, 21:24 EP. Two great songs, two close enough, three more than ok. B+(***) [sp]
Jason Stein/Damon Smith/Adam Shead: Hum (2022 , Irritable Mystic): Bass clarinetist, has a number of albums since 2007, some quite impressive; backed here by bass and drums, for two 21-minute improv pieces. B+(**) [bc]
Elias Stemeseder/Christian Lillinger: Penumbra (2021 , Plaist): Austrian pianist, German drummer, both with sides in synthesizers and other electronics. Agreeably choppy. B+(**) [sp]
Yuhan Su: Liberated Gesture (2023, Sunnyside): Vibraphonist, from Taiwan, studied at Berklee, based in New York, fourth album. With Caroline Davis (alto sax), Matt Mitchell (piano), Marty Kenney (bass), and Dan Weiss (drums). B+(***) [cd]
Kevin Sun: The Depths of Memory (2021-22 , Endectomorph Music, 2CD): Tenor saxophonist, I've been very impressed by everything he's done since his 2018 debut, but his effort here to create extended works is less striking. Three pieces here, totalling 82:28, intricately arranged with basic piano-bass-drums, adding trumpet (Adam O'Farrill) on the last two. B+(***) [cd]
Grzegorz Tarwid Trio: Flowers (2022 , Clean Feed): Polish pianist, has one previous album and several side-credits. Trio here with bass (Max Mucha) and drums (Albert Karch). The rhythm-heavy opening got my attention. B+(***) [bc]
Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers: I Love You (2023, Domestic La La): Australian girl band, lead singer Anna Ryan, slotted punk but I'm thinking more like Go-Go's, first album after an EP. B+(**) [sp]
Trespass Trio Feat. Susana Santos Silva: Live in Oslo (2018 , Clean Feed): One of Swedish saxophonist Martin Küchen's groups -- he plays baritone and sopranino here, with Per Zanussi on bass and Raymond Strid on drums -- with four 2009-17 albums, joined here by the Portuguese trumpet player. B+(**) [bc]
Trio Grande: Urban Myth (2023, Whirlwind): Will Vinson (alto sax, wurlitzer, synths), Gilad Hekselman (guitar), Nate Wood (drums, bass) -- the first two writing three and four pieces, with two covers (Roy Hargrove, Nik Kershaw). First cut points to some funk-fusion, but they're way too multi-faceted to stay there, especially when Vinson returns to his first calling. B+(**) [cd]
Trio San: Hibiki (2022 , Jazzdor): Trio of Satoko Fujii (piano), Taiko Saito (vibes), and Yuko Oshima (drums), first for the trio, a live set from a festival in Berlin. Takes a bit to get going, and moves uneasily when it does, but impressive slow and somber, more so vibrant. B+(***) [cd]
Jeremy Udden: Wishing Flower (2023, Sunnyside): Alto saxophonist, debut 2006, played with Either/Orchestra before that, also plays Lyricron wind synthesizer here, with Ben Monder (guitar), Jorge Roeder (bass), and Ziv Ravitz (drums). B+(*) [sp]
Daniel Villarreal: Lados B (2020 , International Anthem): Drummer, from Panama, based in Chicago, second album, a trio with Jeff Parker (guitar) and Anna Butterss (double & electric bass). Seductive groove music. A- [sp]
Anna Webber/Matt Mitchell: Capacious Aeration (2023, Tzadik): Duo, tenor sax/flute and piano. High level, but sketchy. B+(**) [sp]
Anna Webber: Shimmer Wince (2022 , Intakt): Tenor saxophonist, from Vancouver, studied in Montreal, since based in New York, albums since 2010. She also plays flute and bass flute here, With Adam O'Farrill (trumpet), Elias Stemeseder (synthesizer), Mariel Roberts (cello), and Lesley Mok (drums). Album title elides two song titles, but others were available, like "Fizz" and "Squirmy." B+(**) [dl]
Jennifer Wharton's Bonegasm: Grit & Grace (2023, Sunnyside): Bass trombonist, leads a section here with John Fedchock, Nate Mayland, and Alan Ferber, backed by piano, bass, drums, and percussion. Third group album. Fedchock produced. Ends on an up note, with a vocal about Louisiana hot sauce. B+(***) [cd]
Mars Williams/Vasco Trilla: Critical Mass (2021 , Not Two): Duo, reeds and toy instruments for Williams -- a Hal Russell disciple, Vandermark Five founder, acid jazz renegade, and author of several An Ayler Xmas volumes -- drums and percussion for Trilla. Some noise, some drone, some inspired jazz. B+(***) [sp]
Joe Wittman: Trio Works (2023, self-released): Guitarist, from New York, has a previous album, this one a trio with Daniel Duke (bass) and Keith Balla (drums), playing six originals and two covers ("Sweet Lorraine" and "Born to Be Blue"). Mainstream guitar groove, nicely done. B+(**) [cd]
Joe Wittman/Vito Dieterle/Jesse Breheney/Josh Davis: Night Out (2022 , self-released): Guitarist's first album, out a few months before Trio Works, with tenor sax, bass, and drums. B+(*) [bc]
Miki Yamanaka: Shades of Rainbow (2023, Cellar Music): Japanese pianist, based in New York since 2012, fifth album, with Mark Turner (tenor sax), Tyrone Allen (bass), and Jimmy McBride (drums). Turner feels exceptionally relaxed here. B+(**) [sp]
Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad: Jazz Is Dead 17: Lonnie Liston Smith (2023, Jazz Is Dead): Funk-fusion keyboard player, led the Cosmic Echoes 1973-85, first new record since 1998. B+(*) [sp]
Dhafer Youssef: Street of Minarets (2023, Back Beat Edition): Tunisian singer-songwriter, plays oud, has lived in Europe since 1990, mostly playing with jazz musicians: here including Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), Herbie Hancock (keybs), Nguyên Lê (guitar), Dave Holland or Marcus Miller (bass), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), Rakesh Chaurasia (bansuri), and Adriano Dos Santos (percussion). B+(**) [sp]
Miguel Zenón/Dan Tepfer: Internal Melodies (2023, Main Door Music): Alto sax and piano duo, the pianist from France, with an astrophysics degree, has a Goldberg Variations and a Twelve Free Improvisations in Twelve Keys, but is best known for his duos with Lee Konitz. No Latin Jazz for Zenón here. He's just very adroitly tuned into what the pianist is doing. B+(***) [sp]
Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries
Chantal Acda & Bill Frisell: Live at Jazz Middelheim (2017 , self-released): Dutch/Belgian singer-songwriter, has records going back to 1999, backed here by the famed guitarist. Originally released by Glitterhouse in 2018. B+(*) [sp]
Barry Altschul/David Izenson/Perry Robinson: Stop Time: Live at Prince Street, 1978 (1978  NoBusiness): Drums, bass, clarinet, joint improv, listed alphabetically, although the drummer is probably the best known these days. Not the greatest sound, but remarkable music. A- [cd]
Fred Anderson: The Milwaukee Tapes, Vol. 2 (1980 , Corbett vs. Dempsey): Tenor saxophonist, born in Louisiana, moved to Chicago, helped found AACM, recorded a bit in the 1970s but mostly got by as the owner of a club, restarting his career when he turned 65 in 1994, most often working with his nephew, drummer Hamid Drake. John Corbett released the first volume of these tapes in 2000 as part of Atavistic's Unheard Music Series (virtually everything there is worth checking out), only now coming out with a second set. Quartet with Billie Brimfield (trumpet), Larry Hayrod (bass), and Drake (drums). B+(***) [bc]
Peter Brötzmann/Sabu Toyozumi: Triangle: Live at Ohm, 1987 (1987 , NoBusiness): Live set from Tokyo, with the German avant-saxophonist in fine form, and a local drummer who's up to the task. B+(***) [cd]
Roy Campbell/William Parker/Zen Matsuura: Visitation of Spirits: The Pyramid Trio Live, 1985 (1985 , NoBusiness): Trumpet player (1952-2014), played in various William Parker projects, including Other Dimensions in Music, and later had the Nu Band, with Mark Whitecage. This was an early version of his trio, which did three 1994-2001 studio albums. A bit spotty at first, but terrific when they get going. A- [cd]
Graham Collier: Down Another Road @ Stockholm Jazz Days '69 (1969 , My Only Desire): Bassist (1937-2011), one of the major figures in British jazz to emerge in the late 1960s, leading a sextet here: Hary Beckett (trumpet/flugelhorn), Nick Evans (trombone), Stan Sulzmann (tenor/alto sax), Karl Jenkins (oboe/piano), and John Marshall (drums). This live set expands on five (of six) songs from his third album, Down Another Road. Remarkable compositions and performances. Clearly someone I need to research further. A- [sp]
Eric Ghost: Secret Sauce (1975 , Jazz Room): Jazz flutist Eric Barth Sanders, released two albums 1974-75, had his career interupted by a jail sentence for manufacturing LSD, so his claim to "psychedelic" has some credence. With piano, bass, and free-ranging percussion. B+(***) [sp]
Milford Graves With Arthur Doyle & Hugh Glover: Children of the Forest (1976 , Black Editions Archive): Previously unissued tapes from the percussionist's archive: a trio date with Doyle (tenor sax, flute) and Glover ("klaxon, percussion, vaccine"), a duo with Glover (tenor sax), and a bit of solo (3:13) to close. Graves is fascinating to focus on throughout. Whether you can largely depends on your tolerance for noise: Doyle has always been a screecher, and often little more, although he brings exceptional energy to his part here. Glover has similar intent, but is much less imposing. B+(***) [sp]
Johnny Griffin: Live at Ronnie Scott's (1964 , Gearbox): Tenor saxophonist, an unabashed be-bopper, first records 1956, including a particularly notable appearance with Thelonious Monk. Quartet here, with a local band: Stan Tracey (piano), Malcolm Cecil (bass), and Jackie Dougan (drums), on three side-long pieces (53:54). Not to be confused with a 2008 same-title (In+Out). B+(***) [sp]
Roy Hargrove: The Love Suite: In Mahogany (1993 , Blue Engine): Trumpet player (1969-2018), 1990 debut album was called Diamond in the Rough, led to him winning DownBeat's "rising star" 1991-93, and eventually (2021) entering their hall of fame. Jazz at Lincoln Center commissioned him to do this major piece in 1993, then sat on the tape 30 years? With Jesse Davis (alto sax), Ron Blake (tenor sax), Andre Hayward (trombone), Marc Cary (piano), Rodney Whitaker (bass), and Gregory Hutchinson (drums). Live, sounds great, even with the unconventional climax of scat vocal, long drum solo, and outro credits. Only explanation I can imagine why this was held back so long is that the boss man was jealous. A [sp]
Kim Dae Hwan/Choi Sun Bae: Korean Fantasy (1999 , NoBusiness): Korean duo, drummer (1933-2003), very much in the center here, with trumpet floating around. B+(***) [cd]
Ahmad Jamal: Emerald City Nights: Live at the Penthouse 1966-1968 (1966-68 , Jazz Detective/Elemental, 2CD): A third 2-CD set for the late pianist and his trio, with Jamil Nasser on bass and Frank Grant on drums. Dependably superb, as you'd expect. B+(***) [cd]
Les McCann: Never a Dull Moment! Live From Coast to Coast 1966-1967 (1963-67 , Resonance, 3CD): Pianist, from Kentucky, never seemed to get much respect for his distinctive mix of soul jazz and boogie-woogie, but did get an actual hit record in 1969, with Eddie Harris on Swiss Movement (2.5 stars in Penguin Guide, but in my 1K list). This collects five live dates from Seattle (Penthouse) and one from New York (Village Vanguard), where he does his thing, and keeps doing it until he gets really good at it. (Looks like one cut from 1963 belies the subtitle.) A- [cd] [12-01]
Jouk Minor/Josef Traindl/Jean Querlier/Christian Lété/Dominique Regef: Enfin La Mer (1978 , NoBusiness): Free jazz group, with two pieces dubbed suites (33:50 + 16:43), playing baritone sax/contrabass clarinet, trombone, alto sax, drums, and hurdy gurdy -- most with spotty discographies (Regef has the most side-credits, but nothing as leader). Still, often impressive. B+(***) [cd]
Wes Montgomery/Wynton Kelly Trio: Maximum Swing: The Unissued 1965 Half Note Recordings (1965 , Resonance, 2CD): For many years, it seemed like every American jazz guitarist took Wes Montgomery as their model -- a spell even more total than Charlie Parker and (later) John Coltrane held for saxophonists. I've long been skeptical (really for all three), but when Pat Metheny called Smokin' at the Half Note "the greatest jazz guitar album ever made," I had to check it out. I found it, "complete," in a 2-CD compilation, Impressions: The Verve Jazz Sides (probably where I got the Metheny quote), and have since collected CD reissues, the older one giving Wynton Kelly Trio top billing, a later one headlining Montgomery. Metheny's not right, but he's not far off base either: there is some truly remarkable guitar there -- Kelly and the rhythm section (Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb) are pretty great, too. What's offered here aren't outtakes from the same session, but snippets from other live shots from the same year and venue, with spoken intros and a revolving cast of bassists (Chambers, Ron Carter, Larry Ridley, Herman Wright, and Ridley again). There are, for sure, short stretches where Montgomery is on top of his game, and those are sublime. And there's a nice booklet, with a Bill Milkowski essays, and some appreciations from other musicians. This fits into Montgomery's discography rather like the Royal Roost broadcasts do for Parker. How indispensable they are is up to you. B+(***) [cd] [12-01]
Alon Nechushtan: For Those Who Cross the Seas (2006 , ESP-Disk, 2CD): Israeli pianist, based in New York, has a half-dozen albums, mostly 2011-14. Two live sets here, the first disc called "Astral Voyages," the second "Cosmic Canticles." Band names also appear on front cover, offset just enough to spare me listing them all on the slugline, but worth mentioning here: Roy Campbell (flute/trumpet), Daniel Carter and Sabir Mateen (saxophones/clarinet), William Parker (bass), and Federico Ughi (drums). A- [cd]
Michel Petrucciani: The Montreux Years (1990-98 , BMG/Montreux): The big jazz festival in Switzerland has been an annual affair since 1967. Dozens of artists have released tapes of their performances there, so it's unsurprising that the Foundation itself would want to get into the act. This draws on four performances by the diminuitive French pianist -- who died in 1999, at 37, of a congenital ailment that is impossible to detect in his masterful playing. Selections include duos with bassist Miroslav Vitous, a quartet with synthesizer, a quintet with Steve Grossman on sax, and a sextet with Stefano Di Battista. This winds up being an excellent sampler. A- [sp]
Cal Tjader: Catch the Groove: Live at the Penthouse 1963-1967 (1963-67 , Jazz Detective/Elemental, 2CD): Vibraphonist (1925-82), parents were "Swedish American vaudevillians," moved to Bay Area when he was two, learned to play piano and drums, and tap dance, started out in Dixieland bands, was playing drums in Dave Brubeck's group when he got interested in vibes. There are many testimonials in the booklet here, including one by Terry Gibbs on this story, and how Gibbs "showed him some things," although his knack for "Latin kick" came elsewhere. Tjader's groups from 1953 on were widely recorded. At one point, I tried figuring out who had the most jazz albums among artists I had none from, and Tjader was the easy winner. I picked up a record with Stan Getz after that, but Tjader remains a gaping hole in my expertise. So unlike most recent live archival trawls, I have little to compare this with, giving it an air of fresh discovery. This collects six sets, all quintets with piano, bass, drums, and Latin percussion (especially congas), and it's quite delightful. A- [cd]
Peter Evans/Joel Ross/Nick Jozwlak/Savannah Harris: Being & Becoming (2019 , More Is More): Billed as a new group, but since the names are on the cover, handy to just credit them: trumpet, vibes, bass, drums. Ross has gotten a lot of praise for his Blue Notes, but this is much trickier, and he's really superb. [was: U++] A- [bc]
Dexter Gordon Quartet: Bouncin' With Dex (1975 , SteepleChase): One of many albums the tenor saxophonist recorded during his years in Copenhagen. First side starts with "Billie's Bounce" and ends with a Gordon original called "Benji's Bounce," with "Easy Living" in between, another Gordon piece and "Four" on the other side. Quartet is the cream of Copenhagen: Tele Montoliu (piano), NHØP (bass), and Billy Higgins (drums). A- [r]
Dexter Gordon Quartet: Stable Mabel (1975, SteepleChase): With Horace Parlan (piano), NHØP (bass), and Tony Inzalaco (drums), six standards, ranging from "In a Sentimental Mood" to "Red Cross," most stretched out to 8-9 minutes. B+(***) [r]
Dexter Gordon Quartet: Cheese Cake (1964 , SteepleChase): A live radio shot from his early days in Copenhagen, with Tele Montoliu (piano), NHØP (bass), and Alex Riel (drums). Short and sweet. B+(**) [r]
Dexter Gordon Quartet: I Want More (1964 , SteepleChase): Another live radio shot from Jazzhus Montmartre in Copenhagen, again with Montoliu and NHØP, this time with Rune Carlsson on drums. This was a prime period for him, and nearly everything sounds great. B+(***) [r]
The Hives: Barely Legal (1997, Burning Heart): First album for the Swedish punk band, five years before their Veni Vidi Vicious breakthrough. As coarse as it ought to be. Fourteen songs in 27:21. B+(*) [sp]
The Hives: The Black and White Album (2007, A&M/Octone): Fourth album, fourteen songs again, but 47:57. B+(*) [sp]
Elijah Shiffer and the Robber Crabs: Unhinged (2017 , self-released): Alto saxophonist, first album, group with Andrew Shillito (guitars and banjo), electric bass, and drums, with Jay Rattman on two cuts (bass saxophone and slide whistle). He has a unique sound, drawing on trad jazz but with impossibly funky rhythms. A- [bc]
Howard Shore/Ornette Coleman/London Philharmonic Orchestra: Naked Lunch [The Complete Original Soundtrack Remastered] (1991 , Howe): Soundtrack to the David Cronenberg film of the William S. Burroughs novel, mostly (and most forgettably) composed by Shore, who has some eighty soundtracks 1979-2022, including lots of big budget deals (Lord of the Rings seems to be the one he's most famous for). Coleman composed five tracks (plus two in the six-track bonus section), although he plays (and it really couldn't be anyone else) on the Shore-credited "Interzone Suite," and possibly elsewhere, interesting but not enough to sustain the album. I saw the film, but don't remember much of it, nor do I recall much of the book, which I poked around with in my late teens, treating it more as concrete poetry than as any sort of story. B+(*) [sp]
Records I played parts of, but not enough to grade: -- means no interest, - not bad but not a prospect, + some chance, ++ likely prospect.
Kate Gentile/International Contemporary Ensemble: B i o m e i.i (2022 , Obliquity): + [yt]
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. Also some old albums extracted from further listening:
Irreversible Entanglements: Protect Your Light (2023, Impulse!): [was: A-] A
Steve Lehman/Orchestre National de Jazz: Ex Machina (2023, Pi): [was: A-] A
Music: Current count 41262  rated (+184), 2  unrated (-30).
Excerpts from this month's Music Week posts:
Music: Current count 41108  rated (+30), 28  unrated (-4).
I had a bunch of things I wanted to get done before this update, and I have damn little to show for it. A bunch of things happened, or didn't happen, last week, but if I try to go into that, it'll be days more before I post anything. Maybe next week I can explain.
Meanwhile. I did write another long Speaking of Which, which didn't come out until Monday, pushing Music Week back a day. Rather than wrote more on that here, let me recommend a book about a different time and world that strikes me as especially relevant here: Nicholson Baker's Human Smoke, a chronicle of the prehistory of WWII told through contemporary newspaper clippings: written by the last people who had to figure out the Nazis without having the benefit of knowing how the story ends.
One of my distractions last week was figuring out a sequel for my Oct. 27 birthday dinner. I had shopped for a lot of tapas dishes that I didn't have time to make, so we had a second setting a week later (so Nov. 3). I promised last week to write up my notes on the birthday dinner. I finally did this in the notebook. I also looked up some previous Spanish-themed dinners, and came up with a couple of old pics.
I also finished the indexing on October Streamnotes.
One thing I made very little progress on was setting up the 18th Annual Francis Davis Jazz Poll. I hoped to be able to say more about that here, but that will have to wait until next week. It is still a go, and I hope to send ballot invites out by Nov. 15 (hopefully not much later). Big issue right now is trying to figure out who to invite. I'm surprised as how frazzled I already feel.
Another thing I didn't get done was setting up my EOY files, broken out between jazz and non-jazz (as in previous years -- oops, already have links there to my useless stubs).
The distractions took time away from listening, but the extra day got the rating count up to 30, including five A-list items from my demo queue (a lot more than usual). Would have had six had I gotten to Aruán Ortiz in time.
Music: Current count 41160  rated (+52), 22  unrated (-6).
Spent way too much time the last few days knocking together another Speaking of Which. To little or no avail, I suspect, but that's what we do around here.
What I should have been doing was getting the 18th Annual Francis Davis Jazz Critics Poll rolling. I've been saying all along that I'd get the ballots sent out by November 15, which this week is known as Wednesday. I do have the website set up, but have a lot more writing I want to get done -- both to explain the nitty gritty details to users, voters, and myself. The voting itself will be exactly as it was last year, and many years before that. The big problem is deciding who gets to vote, contacting them, and making sure they're on board. We dropped from 156 to 151 voters last year, and I fear that was mostly due to email failures. My fears in that regard got much worse early this year when I discovered that lots of mail from my server wasn't getting delivered. Fixing that was never clear nor simple, so I'm starting from an expectation that this is going to be a tough slog.
It would be nice if all my voters read this blog, or some blog I could communicate via, or at least followed me on X, but that's certainly not the case. What I do have to communicate with are two mailing lists. One is kept in my mailer, which I can then run through a "mail merge" extension to generate individualized messages. I have a shortened invite file, which I intend to run through that grinder later this week. Those I consider the official invites. (For late invites, I'll just use that as boilerplate for private messages.) The other is a GNU Mailman list on my server, which more or less has the same addresses (but maintained separately, ugh!). I'm going to send them a "heads up" message before I send out the invites. Then I'll use that list for subsequent updates: probably 2-3 reminders to vote, a deadline notice, an updates or two on publication dates, including a done. Neither of these work as well as I'd like, but they make it possible to keep most people fairly well informed along the way.
I thought I'd get started on expanding the voter list more than a month ago, and indeed I did (barely) get started, but once again I'm up against a crunch deadline. I have a few new names ready to add now, and a system set up to find more, but I'm still looking for helpful suggestions. One thing I have discovered so far is that the talent pool isn't lacking. I sent out 200 invites last year, to get 151 ballots back. I'm hoping for maybe 250 invites this year. I doubt it will make much difference to the standings, but 50 more voters will probably add 150 more albums to the overall list, and that, I think, would be a big plus. One thing I do with my tracking file is include any year-old album (2022) that I've only noticed in 2023 (i.e., that wasn't in the 2022 tracking file -- one that included everything that got a vote last year) and I have about 75 such records so far this year. By the way, in this year's file the current jazz count is 952 (603 heard by me).
I managed to make a first pass on my EOY files for Jazz and Non-Jazz, currently with 60 and 42 A-list new releases, respectively. We still have a fair ways to go, but that's well below 2022's 75 jazz and way below 2022's 83 non-jazz. For B+(***) albums, new jazz has 145 (vs. 195 in 2022), new non-jazz has 77 (vs. 122 in 2022)
The overall rated number is 1085 in 2023 (604 jazz), vs. 1669 in 2022 (898 jazz), so I'm down 34.9% in rated records this year, down 32.7% in jazz, more in non-jazz. HM/A-list jazz is down 26.2%, while non-jazz is down much more, 44.3%. In some sense, I'm not surprised: The 2022 totals were ridiculously high, so I knew I was going to slip, and through the health scares and what not I figured that to be a good thing. I can't keep racking up those numbers, and having passed 41,000, I don't really want to anymore.
Those numbers will even out a bit over the next couple months, but the drop from 83 to 42 is pretty extreme. One odd thing is that the last two Christgau Consumer Guides have failed to land a single A- on my list (after 4 in September). I didn't think much of that in October, which still has several albums I haven't found, but only Hemlocke Springs in November inspired so much as a second play. But thus far only 14 of my 42 A-list non-jazz albums got an A/A- from Christgau (2 of which I bumped on re-listens after his reviews). Probably says more about me than him, but I know not what.
Lots of records, hastily considered, below. Dave Bayles was actually a post-break listen today (so not in the 52 count), but I figured I might as well report it now. Ortiz, by the way, was a previous Monday listen, so a long stretch where very little blew me away.
Naked Lunch, by the way, was in response to a question, but I haven't gotten around to writing it up in answer form yet.
One more note: I added some code to the RSS generator to split the feed to just provide Music Week or Speaking of Which files: see the left nav menu, under Networking. I never got much feedback on how the RSS stuff is working (and rarely look at it myself, although my mailer dutifully collects the entries). But I regularly look at No More Mister Nice Blog, and I'd like to get back on his blog roll, so it seemed like a good idea. I also found that the Christgau RSS feed has been broken for months, which nobody pointed out. All that took was a "&" instead of "&" in the content, and kerblooey!
Music: Current count 41210  rated (+50), 9  unrated (-13).
On Wednesday, I sent out an initial round of 205 invitations to cast ballots in the 18th Annual Francis Davis Jazz Critics Poll. I've sent 15-20 more invitations out since then, and will send out a few more over the next week or two. Deadline is December 15. I'm pleased with the results so far, including 14 ballots submitted, and another 60 commitments to vote.
One of the perks of running the Poll is that I get tips on lots of new albums I hadn't heard (or in many cases even heard of). I add these to my tracking file (currently 1046 jazz albums, 1255 non-jazz). You can see a number of them already below, and I suspect that new ones will be most of what I listen to in the coming month. So far 182 records have received votes. I've added the ones I haven't heard (59 music albums + 10 old, so 38% of total) to my EOY Jazz List (scroll down to the 2% note).
Of course, there's also an EOY Non-Jazz List. I've done virtually no recent prospecting for non-jazz records, as I'm trying hard to finish off my 2023 promo queue, as well as keep up with jazz ballot picks. Consequently, it's lagged more than usual (especially more than last year). That will probably change if/when I start collecting EOY lists. At the moment, that seems like a really insane thing to contemplate, but I've described it as "my favorite waste of time," so if some time opens up, I'm more likely to waste it than I am to write some magnum opus on why US foreign policy is totally bankrupt. Let alone one on 2024 elections, as I've fallen into the 20% of Democrats who no longer smile on Biden. (If you doubt why, you obviously haven't been reading lately. Go back to yesterday's link to Biden's op-ed, which most likely his aides told him is today's match for JFK's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech.)
Two new books under the "Recent Reading" widget. I enjoyed Christopher Clark's Revolutionary Spring so much I decided to read a bit more about 1848, something a bit more about the revolutions that didn't happen, hence China Miéville's book on The Communist Manifesto. It turned out to be more on the text, and less on the history, than I wanted, but still left me with warm and fuzzy feelings for my own flirtation with the red side. It also reminded me that not so long ago, no one could conceive of radical change -- something a great many saw urgent need for -- coming about without violence.
After Viet Thanh Nguyen got banned from the 92nd St. Y for signing a petition calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, I saw an interview with him, and got interested in his new memoir. Then I noticed Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, and figured I should read that one first. Just started it, and I'm already finding things I'd like to share. I've written quite a bit about his subject -- not specifically on Vietnam, but you need only check my birth certificate to see that as the pivotal event in my life.
I ordered two more books. One, mentioned at the end of yesterday's post, is Norman Finkelstein's Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom, which seems almost quaint now, given how much more devastating Israel's war against Gaza is now than the periodic assaults since 2006. However, as Nguyen should be among the first to point out, the extreme severity of the current genocide depends for its justification on forgetting everything that Israel did previously, lest the Oct. 7 revolt be viewed as anything other than unprovoked murderous frenzy.
The other book is the paperback reprint of Carlos Lozada's What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era: a book of book reports, that looks like it might be a useful reference.
Music: Current count 41262  rated (+52), 2  unrated (-7).
Meanwhile, we have quite a bit of business to deal with below.
I'm continuously updating my year-end lists for Jazz and Non-Jazz. Currently there are 65+1 A-list entries in jazz, 44+3 in Non-Jazz. The + numbers are albums in previous years' tracking files that I only got to this year. Other 2022 releases appear in the main lists if they weren't even in the tracking files (or were released on or after Dec. 1, 2022).
The split has increased in recent weeks, as I've focused on new jazz, and had little time to do any non-jazz prospecting.
I've made two promotions this week from A- to A (Irreversible Entanglements and Steve Lehman). These were not surprises, nor would the current number 4: James Brandon Johnson's For Mahalia, With Love.
One thing to note is that my entire 2022 demo queue has been reviewed. No new mail this past week, but I have two unopened packages today: one from Portugal, the other from France, so they are probably 2022 releases. I am sitting on a couple of 2024 releases, but I'm in no hurry for them (well, maybe for Ballister).
It's almost two weeks since the first batch of ballot invites for the 18th Annual Francis Davis Jazz Critics Poll went out. I have 24 ballots counted, naming 264 albums. (Maximum is 16 per ballot: 10 new, 3 old, 1 each vocal, debut, latin.) As new records receive votes, I add them to my tracking file and to the unheard section of my 2024 jazz list. (Note to self: I should write a program to pull up all of the albums with jazz poll votes, sorted by artist so I don't give away the standings.)
Hopefully the ballots will start rolling in soon. Deadline is December 15. I still have a bunch of notes on possible voters. I'm not done sending out invites, but I haven't had much time to vet them yet. But this is probably your last chance to make a case, for you or someone else, to vote. My approximate guidelines are that you should have listed to more than 200 new jazz records in the last year, and that you should have written about ten or more. As for "broadcast journalists," I have no idea what the criteria should be. Francis Davis invited several dozen, and a few others nominated themselves or others. They've generally been a credit to the Poll, but as someone who literally never listens to jazz radio, I'm in no position to judge.
It's impossible to tell whether we'll wind up with more than last year's 151 voters, but it is very likely that we'll see an increase in ballots from outside the US.
One thing I haven't done yet is set up an EOY aggregator, like I've did for 2022, 2021, etc. It's easy enough to do, and it's probably the only way I'll ever get a handle on non-jazz prospects. But my first glance at the AOTY Aggregate is pretty dismal (top 20, w/my grades): Lankum [**], Sufjan Stevens [*], Young Fathers [***], Julie Byrne [**], Boygenius [B], Wednesday [*], Blur [*], Lana Del Rey [**], PJ Harvey [*], Grian Chatten [**], Caroline Polachek [*], Mitski [*], Paul Simon [B], Yo La Tengo [A-], Anohni [**], Nation of Language [?], JPEGMafia & Danny Brown [*], Kelela [*], Yussef Dayes [A- this week], Overmono [*]. A/A- down in the next 25: Billy Woods & Kenny Segal (28), Robert Forster (32), Joanna Sternberg (43), Olivia Rodrigo (45). That's only 6 of 44 non-jazz A/A- records I've already found this year.
Of course, the real value of the EOY lists isn't who gets the most mentions, but what are the interesting records deep down in isolated lists. I will note that so far 7 of the top 10 new releases in our Jazz Critics Poll are A/A- in my book. That's a freakishly high share, but evens out with just 2 in the second 10, and just 1 of the second 20. Also, after 27 you get into the single-vote albums, most of which won't get more than a couple more votes, if that.
Sources noted as follows: