Monday, December 26, 2016


Music Week

Music: Current count 27512 [27465] rated (+47), 362 [383] unrated (-21).

This week's rated count when I first ran make was +24, but when I counted the rated records this week, I came up with 28, so clearly I had missed at least four. I made a deeper search of unrated records and found them plus a bunch more (+19), hence this week's inflated count. Actually, I lost a couple days this week to cooking, but I also made up ground by leaning rather hard on Napster and Bandcamp, as I checked out interesting records from various EOY lists. Most helpful this week was Tom Lane's list (emailed personally), as it yielded about a dozen albums I hadn't previously tracked, including two of this week's A- finds (Kelsey Waldon and Becky Warren).

NPR published the 11th Annual Jazz Critics Poll this year. Francis Davis organized the poll of 137 jazz critics, and wrote two essays:

Once again, I compiled all of the critics' ballots into presentable form here, and tabulated them all to provide complete results down to the most obscure single votes. My own ballot is here, which includes, I believe, four singular votes (Keita, Person, Lucas, Rempis -- plus Lucas and Sonic Liberation 8 in the special categories; Amado got one other vote, and Rudd two; Damana got two other votes for Debut). I voted for records which finished 1st (Threadgill), 13th (Allen), 14th (Murray), and tied for 30th (Coleman), but I also graded eight other top-31 finishers A- (DeJohnette, Haden, Lehman, Bloom, Ward, Holland, Rollins, and Hersch), and ten more B+(***) (Smith, Halvorson, Formanek, Wilson, Sorey, Cyrille, Davis, Ortiz, Guy, Brown), plus five B+(**) (Iyer, Argue, Lloyd, Finlayson, Dresser). I didn't manage to hear two (Harrell, Moran). So all in all I find this a very respectable consensus -- in fact, probably fewer records here I disfavor than ever before.

Since the Jazz Critics Poll went up, I've mostly been trying to bring my EOY Aggregate up to date. Thus far I've mostly tried to pick up the (mostly foreign) polls listed at Acclaimed Music Forums. I'm currently up to 166 lists (as compared to about 750 lists last year, a total I'm not even remotely hoping for this year). (By the way, the list-of-the-week is from Dan Weiss. And while I haven't read/counted it yet, here's one from Jason Gross).

The current top-10: David Bowie, Beyoncé, Frank Ocean, Radiohead, Solange, Nick Cave, Kanye West, A Tribe Called Quest, Bon Iver, and Chance the Rapper. Second 10: Angel Olsen, Anohni, Anderson .Paak, Car Seat Headrest, Leonard Cohen, Danny Brown, Kaytranada, Blood Orange, Rihanna, and Mitski. The recent infusion of non-Anglo lists has helped fuel bubbles for Nick Cave (up to 6 from 9 last week), Bon Iver (9 from 11), and Anohni (11 from 13). I suspect those three will settle down a bit as the list focus moves back to America. That should also help Beyoncé, but at this point it's pretty clear that Bowie will wind up in first place (current margin +83), and it's not inconceivable that Beyoncé will lose second place to Frank Ocean (her lead is currently 306-300, so very close). I still expect Beyoncé to win the Village Voice Critics Poll, but my own scheme doesn't allow enough weighting for high finishes to make such a lead reversible.


I was invited to vote in El Intruso's annual poll, so this is what I sent in. They asked for "no more than three choices in each category." Most of those are for musicians-by-instrument. I don't think it makes much sense to try to rank musicians, so please consider this just an exercise in name-dropping.

  • Musician of the year: Ivo Perelman, Allen Lowe
  • Newcomer Musician: Dag Magnus Narvesen
  • Group of the year: Made to Break, Black Bombaim
  • Newcomer group: Damana, Festen
  • Album of the year: Aly Keita, Kalo-Yele (Intakt); Houston Person & Ron Carter: Chemistry (HighNote), Henry Threadgill: Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi)
  • Composer: Carla Bley, John Zorn
  • Drums: Gerald Cleaver, Paal Nilssen-Love, Gerry Hemingway
  • Acoustic Bass: William Parker, John Hebert
  • Electric Bass: Devin Hoff, Rafal Mazur
  • Guitar: Samo Salamon, Eric Hofbauer, Luis Lopes
  • Piano: Irene Schweizer, Kris Davis, Nik Bartsch
  • Keyboards/Synthesizer/Organ
  • Tenor Saxophone: David Murray, Ellery Eskelin, Ernest Dawkins
  • Alto Saxophone: Francois Carrier, Greg Ward, Brahja Waldman
  • Baritone Saxophone: Vinny Golia
  • Soprano Saxophone: Jane Ira Bloom, Sam Newsome
  • Trumpet/Cornet: Taylor Ho Bynum
  • Clarinet/bass clarinet: Marty Ehrlich
  • Trombone: Steve Swell, Roswell Rudd, Joe Fiedler
  • Flute: Nicole Mitchell, Robert Dick
  • Violin/Viola: Jason Kao Hwang
  • Cello: Fred Lonberg-Holm, Erik Friedlander
  • Vibraphone: Jason Adasiewicz
  • Electronics: Jean-Marc Foussat
  • Other instruments: Aly Keita (balafon/kalimba)
  • Female Vocals: Sarah Stiles, Barbara Dane
  • Male Vocals: Freddy Cole
  • Best Live Band: Cortex
  • Record Label: Intakt, Clean Feed, Pi

I also voted in the Village Voice Music Critics Poll 2016 (formerly Pazz & Jop, originally -- i.e., 1971 -- named for a similar poll published by Jazz & Pop magazine). The poll asks critics to vote for their 10 favorite albums, dividing up 100 votes among them (5 minimum, 30 maximum), and also for 10 songs (with no point system).

  1. Aly Keďta/Jan Galega Brönnimann/Lucas Niggli: Kalo-Yele (Intakt) 14
  2. Mekons: Existentialism (Bloodshot) 13
  3. Houston Person & Ron Carter: Chemistry (HighNote) 13
  4. Pet Shop Boys: Super (X2) 11
  5. Brandy Clark: Big Day in a Small Town (Warner Brothers) 11
  6. Henry Threadgill Ensemble Double Up: Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi) 9
  7. Drive-By Truckers: American Band (ATO) 8
  8. Murray, Allen & Carrington Power Trio: Perfection (Motéma) 8
  9. Gary Lucas: Fleischerei: Music From Max Fleischer Cartoons (Cuneiform) 7
  10. Aesop Rock: The Impossible Kid (Rhymesayers) 6

I haven't been tracking singles, so have no idea what to vote for there, and no time at the moment to figure out how to fake it. I only picked five records from my 2016 Jazz List and one (Lucas) was picked ahead of order because it's more pop/vocal, with five more from the 2016 Non-Jazz List. For a variety of reasons, my present integrated EOY list is rather heavily skewed toward jazz (for one thing, I have 71 A-list jazz records, vs. 51 A-list non-jazz). But the former hardly ever get any Pazz & Jop support, and I don't wish to be totally marginal there. For one thing, we've lost way too many elections already this year.

On the other hand, I'm not terribly excited by the records leading the EOY Aggregate count. Looking at my grades for the top 20 (and I still haven't heard Beyoncé), I come up with zero A records, 8 A- (Chance the Rapper [44], A Tribe Called Quest [27], Anderson .Paak [7], Leonard Cohen [30], Kaytranada [13], Rihanna [25], Danny Brown [12], Blood Orange [28]), 4 B+(***) (David Bowie, Kanye West, Angel Olsen, Car Seat Headrest), 2 B+(**) (Frank Ocean, Solange), 3 B+(*) (Bon Iver, Anohni, Mitski), 1 B (Radiohead), 1 B- (Nick Cave), nothing really worse than that. While I can't say as I understand the attraction of the bottom two, the average year has 3-4 times as many "deplorables," so it's hard to complain about this year's polls. In fact, it's never been clearer that the Trump demographic has never been more culturally impotent (or should I just say eclipsed?).


New records rated this week:

  • Harry Allen's All Star New York Saxophone Band: The Candy Men (2016, Arbors): [r]: B+(*)
  • John Beasley: Presents MONK'estra Vol. 1 (2016, Mack Avenue): [r]: B-
  • William Bell: This Is Where I Live (2016, Stax): [r]: B
  • Sarah Bernstein Quartet: Still/Free (2015 [2016], Leo): [r]: B+(***)
  • Peter Brötzmann/Steve Swell/Paal Nilssen-Love: Live in Copenhagen (2016, Not Two): [cd]: A-
  • J Cole: 4 Your Eyez Only (2016, Dreamville/Roc Nation/Interscope): [r]: B+(**)
  • Daniele D'Agaro/Giovanni Maier/Zlatko Kaucic: Disorder at the Border Plays Ornette (2015 [2016], Not Two): [r]: B+(**)
  • Pierre Dřrge's New Jungle Orchestra: Ubi Zaa (2016, SteepleChase): [r]: B
  • DD Dumbo: Utopia Defeated (2016, 4AD): [r]: B
  • ELEW: And to the Republic (2016, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jonny Fritz: Sweet Creep (2016, ATO): [r]: B+(*)
  • Future: EVOL (2016, Epic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kirk Knuffke: Little Cross (2014 [2015], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(*)
  • Konx-Om-Pax: Caramel (2016, Planet Mu): [r]: B+(*)
  • Kornél Kovács: The Bells (2016, Studio Barnhus): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Pedrito Martinez Group: Habana Dreams (2016, Motéma): [r]: B+(*)
  • Rob Mazurek & Emmett Kelly: Alien Flower Sutra (2016, International Anthem): [r]: C
  • Parker Millsap: The Very Last Day (2016, Okrahoma): [r]: B+(*)
  • Modus Factor: The Picasso Zone (2015 [2016], Browntasaurus): [r]: B+(**)
  • Uwe Oberg & Silke Eberhard: Turns (2015 [2016], Leo): [r]: B+(***)
  • Roberto Occhipinti: Stabilimento (2016, Modica Music): [cd]: B
  • Phronesis: Parallax (2015 [2016], Edition): [r]: B+(**)
  • Populous: Night Safari (2014, Bad Panda): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Todd Snider: Eastside Bulldog (2016, Aimless): [r]: B+(***)
  • Gregory Tardy: Chasing After the Wind (2015 [2016], SteepleChase): [r]: B
  • Tell Tale: Film in Music (2014 [2016], Drip Audio): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Kelsey Waldon: I've Got a Way (2016, Monkey's Eyebrow): [r]: A-
  • Becky Warren: War Surplus (2016, self-released): [r]: A-


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Led Bib: Umbrella Weather (RareNoise): advance, January 20
  • Brad Myers & Michael Sharfe: Sanguinaria (Hopefulsongs) (Colloquy): March 3
  • Reflections in Cosmo (RareNoise): advance, January 20