An occasional blog about populist politics and popular music, not necessarily at the same time.
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Monday, March 25, 2019
Music: current count 31297  rated (+22), 253  unrated (+2).
I expected a "lazy week," so my lowest rated count this year shouldn't be a surprise. Was real low until the weekend, when I settled down to write up a lengthy Weekend Roundup. Even then, I ran into a problem when Napster stopped playing (could search and select records, but couldn't fetch any music). Probably the Flash plugin got hosed, and could get restarted by rebooting, but I had too much stuff up in the air to bother). Played some CDs -- the week's three two A- and one B+(***) records. Beyond that, I mostly searched on Bandcamp (9 this week, vs. 5 on Napster).
I didn't get around to moving the computer last week, even though I had planned to do it right after last week's Music Week. I'm going to swear off predicting when I'm going to get that done. Weather should be relatively nice next week, and I have a couple of woodworking projects on tap, so that may be more fun. Took a couple of days last week making a rather spectacular dinner. Menu, as best I recall:
I used a lot of eggs and cream. I originally wanted to do veal marengo [Greenspan], but the one grocery store that routinely stocks veal chops had none (no veal at all, no lamb, seafood counter already shut down. I've made that chicken recipe a number of times, so was able to amend my shopping list from memory. Might even have been an improvement on the veal, although that's another marvelous dish. I had to make the fudge sauce and assemble the profiteroles after dinner, and couldn't serve them all at once, but our guests coped.
This is the last Monday in March, so my Streamnotes (March 2019) file is complete.
New records reviewed this week:
Cyrille Aimée: Live (2018, Mack Avenue): French jazz singer, ninth album since 2009, writes some, mostly covers, mostly in English, touching on Michael Jackson and Stephen Sondheim. Backed by two guitars, bass, and drums. B+(**)
Cyrille Aimée: Move On: A Sondheim Adventure (2019, Mack Avenue): Never a fan of musical theater, I have little sense of Sondheim other than the vague whiff of his fame -- enough to think that by now his songs would have eased into the standards repertoire, even though there's scant evidence of it. Sure, the French jazz singer has dabbled before, and here dives in whole hog. Still, two plays and nothing memorable. B
Chat Noir: Hyperuranion (2018 , RareNoise): Italian group, Michele Cavallari (keyboards) and Luca Fogagnolo (bass) founding members from 2006, half-dozen albums, now a quartet with Daniel Calvi (guitar) and Moritz Baumgartner (drums). Instrumental semi-pop, doesn't do much as jazz but that's where they're pitching it. B [cdr]
Stephan Crump/Ingrid Laubrock/Cory Smythe: Channels (2017 , Intakt): Bass, tenor/soprano sax, piano trio, listed alphabetically and jointly credited, but strikes me as the bassist's show, setting and breaking up time in a way that gives Laubrock a lot of leeway. A- [cd]
Ex Hex: It's Real (2019, Merge): Punk trio, led by Mary Timony, who's been doing this sort of thing since her 1994-97 band Helium, using Ex Hex as a solo album title in 2005, and adopting it as her band name in 2014. Second group album, straight and hard and more than a little catchy. B+(**)
Paolo Fresu/Richard Galliano/Jan Lundgren: Mare Nostrum III (2018 , ACT): Trumpet/accordion/piano, third album for this trio, like its predecessors, a tidy little chamber jazz act. B+(**)
ICP Orchestra: Live at the Royal Room: First Set: 6 May 2015 (2015 , ICP): Dutch avant tentet, founded 1967 by pianist-composer Misha Mengelberg, drummer Han Bennink, along with a who's who of future (and in some cases, like Willem Breuker, now past) stars. Mengelberg retired before this tour, replaced by Guus Janssen but they're still playing three of his old pieces. In Seattle, getting warmed up. B+(*) [bc]
ICP Orchestra: Live at the Royal Room: Second Set: 6 May 2015 (2015 , ICP): Getting warmer, the improvs often reminding me of circus music. B+(**) [bc]
Anthony Joseph: People of the Sun (2018, Heavenly Sweetness): Singer-songwriter, poet, novelist, born in Trinidad, moved to UK in 1989, has several albums. Big beat, lot of groove and flash, but did run on. B+(*) [bc]
Liebman Rudolph & Drake: Chi (2018 , RareNoise): Saxophonist David Liebman, tenor and soprano plus he plays some surprisingly impressive piano, with two percussionists: Adam Rudolph, who draws ideas and instruments from all over the world, and Hamid Drake, whose frame drums are wonderfully distinctive. It's their record, even when Liebman tries to run away with it. A- [cdr]
Dan McCarthy: Epoch (2019, Origin): Vibraphonist, from Canada, based in New York, several previous albums. This is a string-heavy quartet with Mark Feldman (violin), Ben Monder (guitar), and Steve Swallow (electric bass), with Feldman carrying most of the weight. I've never much cared for Feldman before, but he's consistently sharp here, as well as gorgeous. B+(***) [cd]
Levon Mikaelian Trio: Untainted (2019, self-released): Pianist, from Yerevan, Armenia, moved to US after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Has at least one previous. This is a trio with Jon Steele (bass) and Kelton Norris (drums). One original, rest based on traditional folk songs. Runs long (69:30), very listenable. B+(**) [cd]
Sean Noonan Pavees Dance: Tan Man's Hat (2018 , RareNoise): Drummer, self-described "Irish griot," launched this group in 2014, has gone through several guitarists to get to Ava Mendoza here, with Jamaaladeen Tacuma on electric bass and Alex Marcelo on keyboards. Still, major collaborator is ex-Can vocalist Malcolm Mooney. My first reaction was "aims for Beefheart, misses Zappa." Missing Zappa isn't necessarily a dis, but the slippery slop is pretty hit and miss. B [cdr]
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah: Ancestral Recall (2019, Ropeadope): Trumpet player from New Orleans, debut in 2005, Africanized his name in 2012, released a well-regarded trilogy in 2016. This follow up builds on his popularity by throwing everything at it: his own synths, guest flute and alto sax, lots of African percussion, lots of voices. Best when the clutter clears and his trumpet breaks out like the sun on a cloudy day. B+(*) [bc]
Dexter Story: Bahir (2019, Soundway): Multi-instrumentalist from Los Angeles, studied at UC Berkeley, member of Build an Ark and the Life Force Trio, two previous albums (plus remixes), cites East African influences ("Ethiopian jazz, Tuareg grooves, ekista dance rhythms, Afro-funk, Somalian soul, and conteporary jazz influences"), with various featured guests (like Ethiopian singer Hamelmal Abate). B+(*) [bc]
Urbanity: Urbanity (2018 , Alfi): Smooth jazz duo, Albare (Albert Dadon, guitars) and Phil Turcio (keyboards/programming), second album, each has an album or two on their own. They split the writing credits, aside from one cover -- a very genteel "Desperado." A guest vocal, of course, and a bit of tenor sax (Tim Ries). Not exactly bland, but pretty damn blasé. B [cd]
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
Sun Ra and His Spirit of Jazz Cosmos Arkestra: WUHY Radio, Philadelphia, 1978 (1978 , Enterplanetary Koncepts): Radio shot, bits of interviews and other distractions from the often remarkable music. B+(*) [bc]
Townes Van Zandt: Sky Blue (1973 , Fat Possum): Folkie singer-songwriter from Texas, released six albums 1968-72, just three more before he died at 52 in 1997, some kind of legend in his niche, but never a star, and the two records I managed to check out didn't impress me much. Eleven previously unreleased tunes, eight of them originals, all just acoustic guitar and voice, B+(*) [bc]
Aceyalone: All Balls Don't Bounce (1995, Capitol): Rapper Eddie Hayes, first album, cover looks familiar but no grade in my database. B+(**) [bc]
Aceyalone: A Book of Human Language (1998, Project Blowed): Second album, just before the first one I noticed -- the excellent Accepted Eclectic. Cover credit: "Accompanied by Mumbles." Beats, I presume, B+(**) [bc]
Carol Leigh: Go Back Where You Stayed Last Night (1984 , GHB): Trad jazz singer, starting with Turk Murphy and Bob Scobey, mostly recorded with the Salty Dogs and in a duo with James Dapogny, but has a few albums under her own name. Credits on this one include Ernie Carson (cornet), John Otto (clarinet), Knocky Parker (piano), Shorty Johnson (tuba), and Hal Smith (drums). CD adds parts of another album with a different group. Mostly blues, echoes from the 1920s. B+(**)
Carol Leigh/Dumouster Stompers: Back Water Blues (1993 , GHB): Another trad jazz group, recorded five albums (as far as I can tell) 1993-2005, originally on the French Black & Blue label, with the singer getting top billing here. Cover says "Dedicated to Montauban." B
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week: