Monday, April 24, 2017

Music Week

Music: Current count 28064 [28033] rated (+31), 397 [401] unrated (-4).

Rated count up this week, probably because I didn't find nearly as many A-list records as last week: the two I came up with got (I think) three plays each, as did a couple of high HMs -- African River came closest, although I wound up deciding it was a slightly uneven follower of several better albums, starting with the band-naming (and hugely recommended) Ekaya, and the Dawkins-Iyer record only had one spot I kept tripping on. I did only give Idles -- currently number three on Chris Monsen's 2017 favorites list -- one spin, finding myself more impressed than interested. I haven't yet found his number two Harriet Tubman -- probably a download link in my mailbox -- and I wasn't that taken with his top-rated Angles 9 album (although I liked their smaller group Live in Coimbra and Live in Ljubljana discs), and I've never rated anything by Martin Küchen less than B+(**). A few more things I haven't heard down the list: Atomic, Lithics, Priests, Led Bib (in the queue but temporarily lost), Cloud Nothings, Necks.

Made a little more progress in the Jazz Guide compilation: 20th Century up to 619 pages, 21st 372, so I'll probably his 1000 pages sometime this week. Since last time I reported, that's up +9 and +34, so at this point (Seamus Blake, 10% into "Jazz 80s") the latter is growing four times as fast. I think I was just starting the file last week, so some quick envelope math suggests I'll finish it in another nine weeks (end of June), with 20th Century growing to 700 pages and the 21st to 778. After that it should be all post-2000 (aside from relatively small files for Latin and pop jazz).

The calendar says I should post April's Streamnotes file later this week. Draft file is currently shorter than usual, especially for new music (58 records, 94 total). So I imagine I'll scrounge around for some scoops, but don't really expect to find much.

I also hope to do a book post sometime this week. I haven't done one since August 21, and a lot has happened since then. I will note that I've started reading Gail Pellett's remarkable memoir of 1980, the year she spent working as a "foreign expert" for Chinese radio. I knew her back in St. Louis in the 1970s, so I'm recognizing some things and I'm learning even more -- not least about her background, which for some reason I never enquired into when I could.

Something else I should (but probably won't) do is to write up some thoughts on Ian Kershaw's Fateful Choices -- ten moves from 1940-41 that dramatically broadened the wars that started in the late 1930s. The book would probably have been better had he started earlier and included more on the earlier decisions that led up to the war: Japan's decision to invade China in 1937, Germany's to carve up Poland in 1939, the German-Russian pact that allowed Germany into Poland, the Anglo-French decision to declare war on Germany but not Russia over Poland. Of course, those in turn should be backtracked: Japan's previous attack on Manchuria in 1929, Italy's attacks on Ethiopia and Albania, the mix of intervention and avowed neutrality over the Spanish Civil War, and the so-called "appeasement policy" toward Germany. Before that, of course, is the detritus of the first World War, and before that you get the relatively late efforts at empire building by Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States.

In many ways the best book on all this is Nicholson Baker's Human Smoke -- at least he brings all these threads together, albeit too schematically. One thing I learned there was how artfully Franklin Roosevelt maneuvered Japan and Germany into attacking, allowing him to enter the war with broad popular support -- something most Americans weren't interested in until it happened. Various other books I've read recently helped fill in details: Kershaw, Ira Katznelson's Fear Itself, and most of all James Bradley's The China Mirage. But Baker still has the most important insight: that the only people who tried to stop this cascade of bad choices were the pacifists, not only because they were the ones who anticipated the disaster to come, but because they were the ones most sensitive to the injustices which preceded it. Well, also the people less adverse to fighting who were later dismissed as "premature antifascists."

New records rated this week:

  • Kevin Abstract: American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story (2016, Brockhampton): [r]: B+(*)
  • Actress: AZD (2017, Ninja Tune): [r]: B+(*)<
  • Antonio Adolfo: Hybrido: From Rio to Wayne Shorter (2016 [2017], AAM): [cd]: B
  • Bardo Pond: Under the Pines (2017, Fire): [r]: B
  • Bill Brovold & Jamie Saft: Serenity Knolls (2016 [2017], Rare Noise): [cdr]: B+(*)
  • Ernest Dawkins New Horizons Ensemble: Transient Takes (2016 [2017], Malcom): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Idles: Brutalism (2017, Bailey): [r]: B+(***)
  • Khalid: American Teen (2017, Right Hand/RCA): [r]: A-
  • Mike Longo Trio: Only Time Will Tell (2016 [2017], CAP): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Robert McCarther: Stranger in Town (2016 [2017], Psalms 149 Music): [cd]: C+
  • Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: The Art of Perelman-Shipp, Volume 5: Rhea (2016 [2017], Leo): [cd]: A-
  • Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: The Art of Perelman-Shipp, Volume 6: Saturn (2016 [2017], Leo): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: The Art of Perelman-Shipp, Volume 7: Dione (2016 [2017], Leo): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Michael Rabinowitz: Uncharted Waters (2017, Cats Paw): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Rashad: #LevelUp (2017, Self Made): [r]:

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:

  • Abdullah Ibrahim: Ancient Africa (1973 [2017], Delmark/Sackville): [cd]: B+(**)

Old music rated this week:

  • Jerry Bergonzi: Inside Out (1989 [1990], Red): [r]: B+(**)
  • Stanley Cowell Trio: Departure #2 (1990, SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Stanley Cowell Trio: Live at Copenhagen Jazz House (1993 [1995], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Stanley Cowell Quartet: Hear Me One (1996, SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Stanley Cowell: Are You Real? (2014, SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Abdullah Ibrahim: Duke Ellington Presents the Dollar Brand Trio (1963 [1997], Reprise Archives): [r]: B+(**)
  • Dollar Brand/Abdullah Ibrahim Orchestra: African Space Program (1973 [2013], Enja): [r]: B
  • Abdullah Ibrahim: Echoes From Africa (1979 [1987], Enja): [r]: B+(**)
  • Abdullah Ibrahim: African Dawn (1982 [1987], Enja): [r]: B+(**)
  • Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya: African River (1989, Enja): [r]: B+(***)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Orchestra Baobab: Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng (Nonesuch/World Circuit)
  • Jari Haapalainen Trio: Fusion Madness (Moserobie)
  • Rebecca Hennessy's Fog Brass Band: Two Calls (self-released): May 19
  • Chad Lefkowitz-Brown: Onward (self-released)
  • Alex Maguire/Nikolas Skordas Duo: Ships and Shepherds (Slam, 2CD): May 19
  • Yoko Miwa Trio: Pathways (Ocean Blue Tear Music): May 12
  • Noertker's Moxie: Druidh Penumbrae (Edgetone)
  • Eve Risser/Benjamin Duboc/Edward Perraud: En Corps/Generation (Dark Tree)
  • Paul Tynan & Aaron Lington Bicoastal Collective: Chapter Five (OA2): May 19

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