Monday, February 25, 2019


Music Week

Music: current count 31174 [31145] rated (+29), 252 [249] unrated (+3).

So-so week, rated count actually a good deal more than I expected, given all the distractions. Since I went to weekly review dumps, I guess that means that the last Monday of the month is the closing date for the archive Streamnotes (February 2019) -- posted at the same time as this Music Week. February's record total of 123 (91 new) is quite a bit less than January's 201 (153 new).

Still listening more to 2018 than 2019 records (15-4 below), even a couple hitherto unnoticed 2017 releases. Should probably write a longer intro, but not feeling it at the moment.


New records reviewed this week:

Jakob Anderskov: Mysteries (2017 [2018], ILK): Danish pianist, more than a dozen albums since 2006, this the first I've heard, a trio with Adam Pultz Melbye (bass) and Anders Vestergaard (drums), recorded live at The Loft in Köln. B+(**)

Julian Argüelles: Tonadas (2017 [2018], Edition): English saxophonist (tenor/soprano), first album 1990, this a quartet -- Ivo Neame (piano), Sam Lasserson (bass), James Maddren (drums) -- draws on Spanish for its titles (starting with "Tunes"), and doesn't skimp on the Latin tinge. B+(**)

Rafiq Bhatia: Breaking English (2018, Anti-): Guitarist, born in North Carolina, of Indian descent via East Africa, second album, also plays in the experimental rock band Son Lux, and has side credits with David Virelles and Heems. Instrumental album, classified experimental, has some interesting twists and turns. B+(**)

Carsie Blanton: Buck Up (2019, So Ferocious): Singer-songwriter from Virginia, ran off at 16 to Oregon, then decided to turn pro and moved to Philadelphia but wound up in New Orleans. Never heard of her before, but sixth album since 2005 -- catchy, quotable, clever, sometimes cute, but bucks up when the going gets tough. A-

Martin Blume/Wilbert De Joode/John Butcher: Low Yellow (2016 [2018], Jazzwerkstatt): Drums, bass, tenor sax, respectively, recorded live in Slovenia. B+(**)

Dinosaur: Wonder Trail (2018, Edition): British quartet, second album, Laura Jurd (trumpet) the leader, with Elliot Gavin (synth), Conor Chaplin (electric bass), and Corrie Dick (drums). I like the trumpet but the vocal pieces have scant jazz interest. B

Endangered Blood: Don't Freak Out (2018, Skirl): New York quartet, originally came together to play in a benefit for Andrew D'Angelo. Their eponymous first album listed the names in alphabetical order, so I filed it under drummer Jim Black -- followed by Trevor Dunn on bass, with two saxophonists -- Chris Speed on tenor and Oscar Noriega on alto. (D'Angelo recovered, and Speed and Black still play in a band with him called Human Feel.) A-

Hot 8 Brass Band: On the Spot (2017, Tru Thoughts): New Orleans brass band, first album 2005, currently nine strong with three trumpets, three trombones, tuba (leader Bennie "Big Peter" Pete), sax, and bass drum. Probably shouldn't bother with only 4/11 tracks available but hot and funky out of the gate, with little evidence that they'll ever wear down. [4/11 cuts, 25:58.] B+(**) [bc]

Hot 8 Brass Band: Take Cover (2019, Tru Thoughts, EP): Five cut, 21:04 EP, giving covers like "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and "Give Me the Night" the same overpowering, overwrought treatment. B+(*) [bc]

Ohmme: Parts (2018, Joyful Noise): Chicago duo, Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart, both started as pianists but have come to prefer guitar for its noise potential, and probably play everything else (aside from Matt Carroll on drums), as well as sing in and out of tight harmony. B+(**)

On the Levee Jazz Band: Swinging New Orleans Jazz (2018, Big Al): New Orleans trad jazz outfit led by drummer Hal Smith, logo adds "A Tribute to Kid Ory," takes its name from a club owned by Ory. Clint Baker is front and center on trombone, Ben Polcer trumpet, Joe Goldberg clarinet, plus piano-guitar-bass. Fourteen songs, all "good ol' good 'uns" as Satch liked to say. I'm sure I've heard them all before, but not better, at least not lately. A- [bc]

Pilgrims [John Wolf Brennan/Tony Majdalani/Marco Jencarelli]: Oriental Orbit (2017, Leo): Names on the spine, group name above them on the cover. Each is credited with many instruments, but the main categories are piano, percussion, and guitar, with vocals by Brennan (3 tracks) and Majdalani (6). Expansive jazz on a global scale. B+(*)

Chris Potter: Circuits (2019, Edition): Postbop tenor saxophonist, possibly the most acclaimed of his generation, discography to my ear is hit and miss but at any time he's capable of ripping off a jaw-dropping solo. With James Francies (keyboards) and Eric Harland (drums), plus Linley Marthe (electric bass) on 4/9 tracks. Band does him no favors here. Sometimes he comes close to salvaging in spite of them, but they're hard to shake or ignore. B-

RAM: RAM 7: August 1791 (2018, Willibelle): Haitian group, more or less, the date a reminder of the start of the revolution against French rule and slavery. Big groove record, doesn't sustain much interest. B

Dave Rempis/Brandon Lopez/Ryan Packard: The Early Bird Gets (2018 [2019], Aerophonic): Avant sax-bass-drums trio, the latter also credited with electronics, the saxophones plural but not specified but I'd say mostly tenor. I'd also say tour de force. A- [cd]

Valee: GOOD Job, You Found Me (2018, GOOD Music, EP): Chicago rapper Valee Taylor, had a half-dozen mixtapes before getting a label deal which has thus far only produced this 6-cut, 14:30 EP, just short verbal stabs riding on minimal beats. B+(**)

Kate Vargas: For the Wolfish & Wandering (2018, self-released): Singer-songwriter based in New York, DIY but not particularly country/folk, interesting voice, possibly songs too. B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Gboyega Adelaja: Colourful Environment (1979 [2018], Odion Livingstone): Nigerian, I'm guessing, Afrobeat at least, with ties to Shina Williams and Tony Allen. Short album (7 cuts, 30:28). B+(**)

African Scream Contest 2 (1970s [2018], Analog Africa): More crate digging in Benin by Samy Ben Redjeb, "a new treasure trove of Vodoun-inspired Afrobeat heavy funk crossover greatness," dates uncertain but more likely earlier than later, groups even less famous. B+(***) [bc]

Dur Dur of Somalia: Volume 1, Volume 2, & Previously Unreleased Tracks (1986-87 [2018], Analog Africa, 2CD): From Mogadishu, capitol of one of the poorest countries in Africa, even before George Bush (take your pick, but HW was the first to send in troops), Osama Bin Laden, and a series of Ethiopian tyrants eviscerated much of the country. Organ-centric grooves, rocksteady guitar, several singers. B+(***)

Orhestre Abass: De Bassari Togo (1972 [2018], Analog Africa, EP): Group from Togo, a sliver of a country between Ghana and Benin, although the tapes showed up in Accra, Ghana, and the band leader, one Malam Issa Abass, is long gone (killed with a grenade in 1993). Organ funk, primal soul jazz. Six tracks, 21:35. B+(***)

Old music:

African Scream Contest: Raw & Psychedelic Afro Sounds From Benin & Togo 70s (1970s [2008], Analog Africa): From West Africa, two slim contries sandwiched between Ghana and Nigeria. Mostly good groove groups, two I've heard of, but the scream winner here is Roger Damawuzan, who does a pretty fair JB. A-

Carsie Blanton: Ain't So Green (2005, self-released): Debut at age 20, just a cute voice and a whisp of guitar, love songs because that's what most songs are, but asks some basic questions, like "what are we earning/what will it cost," elsewhere concluding "'cause if it don't cost nothing, it ain't for me." B+(***)

Carsie Blanton: Idiot Heart (2012, self-released): Third album, opens with a band, but gets quieter after a bit and starts to fade into the background. B+(*)

Carsie Blanton: Not Old, Not New (2014, So Ferocious): Jazz standards album, opens with Ellington then Porter, picks Julia Lee's "Don't Come Too Soon" for something a bit off-color. I'm not seeing any credits, but sounds like a standard piano trio with guest spots for sax and vibes. Only original is the 0:45 title sketch. B+(**)

Carsie Blanton: So Ferocious (2016, So Ferocious): Seems like a mixed bag, but a couple songs stand out: "The Animal I Am," "Fat and Happy." B+(*)

Andrew D'Angelo Trio: Skadra Degis (2007 [2008], Skirl): Alto saxophonist, raised in Seattle, moved to New York in 1986, also worked in Boston with Either/Orchestra, not much under his own name other than two Trio albums, this the first. With Jim Black (drums) and Trevor Dunn (bass). Strong group, sometimes a bit harsh but can't fault the energy. B+(***) [bc]

Andrew D'Angelo Trio: Norman (2015, self-released): Same trio, the leader playing bass clarinte as well as alto sax. Incendiary but rough in spots, Jim Black's drumming continues to amaze. B+(***) [bc]

Endangered Blood: Work Your Magic (2012 [2013], Skirl): Second of three albums for this quartet, the two saxophonists (Chris Speed and Oscar Noriega) switching to clarinet (bass for Noriega) on occasion. B+(***)

Kitchen Orchestra/Alexander Von Schlippenbach: Kitchen Orchestra With Alexander Von Schlippenbach (2013, Whats Cooking): Large Norwegian group, dates back to 2005, I found them while looking up Dag Magnus Narvesen (drums) and don't especially recognize anyone else -- 16 credits here including the guest conductor/pianist (also composer and arranger of the closing pieces by Dolphy and Monk). This seems to be the group's sole album, although their website lists events with various guests (in 2018: Eve Risser, Marilyn Crispell, Per Zanussi). B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Atomic: Pet Variations (Odin)
  • Lyn Stanley: London Calling: A Toast to Julie London (A.T. Music)
  • Carol Sudhalter Quartet: Live at Saint Peter's Church (Alfa Projects)
  • Assif Tsahar/William Parker/Hamid Drake: In Between the Tumbling a Stillness (Hopscotch) [A-]