Monday, July 10, 2023

Music Week

July archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 40543 [40512] rated (+31), 17 [14] unrated (+3).

Another hefty Speaking of Which yesterday (80 links, 5441 words). I was panicking about my inability to get anything done, but once I settled into this piece, a calm settled over me, and I felt my thinking and (hopefully) my writing become clear. Perhaps I should stop worrying about whether anyone else reads and/or cares about these exercises, and just consider them therapy.

Picks last week were non-jazz, but this week they're all jazz -- the band behind Aja Monet is practically all-star, while the others are more avant. Gerry Hemingway wrote a while back and asked if I'd be interested in him sending me something. I said sure, not expecting side credits, but they made my week. His own songs-with-vocals album Afterlife was perhaps the biggest, most pleasant surprise of 2022.

Spent most of today catching up with the indexing on June's Streamnotes, which entails the annual list and the artist index. Beware that the latter is 21,814 records long.

New records reviewed this week:

Jason Adasiewicz: Roy's World (2017 [2023], Corbett vs. Dempsey): From Chicago, plays vibraphone and balafon, couple dozen albums since 2000, many more side credits. Project here was music for a film. Group a nicely balanced quintet, with Josh Berman (cornet), Jonathan Doyle (saxes), Joshua Abrams (bass), and Hamid Drake (drums). A- [bc]

Susan Alcorn/José Lencastre/Hernâni Faustino: Manifesto (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Pedal/lap steel guitar, alto/tenor sax, acoustic/electric bass. B+(*) [sp]

Jalen Baker: Be Still (2022 [2023], Cellar): Vibraphonist, second album, with piano (Paul Cornish), bass (Gabriel Godoy), and drums (Gavin Moolchan). B+(*) [cd]

João Barradas: Solo II: Live at Festival D'Aix-En-Provence (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Portuguese accordion player, several albums since 2013, this a six-part improv, where he is also credited with MIDI controller and voice. B+(*) [bc]

Carlos Bica: Playing With Beethoven (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Portuguese bassist, albums since 1995, was commissioned by Cineteatro Louletano "to respond creatively to the musical legacy of Ludwig von Beethoven," so starts with eleven classical themes and plays with them. With Daniel Erdmann (tenor/soprano sax), João Barradas (accordion), and DJ Illvibe (turntables). Mixed results. I'm hard pressed to identify the Beethoven here, although he makes a ready scapegoat when it goes wrong. B [sp]

Big Freedia: Central City (2023, Queen Diva): New Orleans bounce rapper Freddie Ross, second album (plus mixtapes, EPs, and a bunch of singles). At best, this reminds me of George Clinton's funk foundry, but at worst the banging gets out of hand, turning into pure headache. B- [sp]

Valentin Ceccaldi: Bonbon Flamme (2023, Clean Feed): French cello player, brother of violinist Théo Ceccaldi, has at least one previous album. Joined here by Luis Lopes (guitar), Fulco Ottervanger (piano, keyboards), and Étienne Ziemniak (drums), bits of spoken word. Dense, with rock energy that might explode but doesn't quite. B+(***) [bc]

Entoto Band: Entoto Band (2023, Guitar Globetrotter): Songs from "the golden era of Ethiojazz," with singer Helen Mengestu and saxophonist Amanyal Tewelde, along with Dutch guitarist Joep Pelt. B+(**) [sp]

Gloss Up: Before the Gloss Up (2023, Quality Control): Memphis rapper, first mixtape after a flurry of singles appearances (4 in Discogs), 12 tracks, 29:53. B+(***) [sp]

HIIT: For Beauty Is Nothing but the Beginning of Terror (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Italian pianist Simone Quatrana, in a trio with Andrea Grossi (bass) and Pedro Melo Alves (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Jelly Roll: Whitsitt Chapel (2023, BBR Music Group): Singer-songwriter Jason Bradley DeFord, from Tennessee, started out hip-hop but goes country here, which among other things means he gets to stretch out his drawl and crank the guitars up. But he's as dissolute as anyone around, and religion can't save him (neither "Dancing with the Devil" nor "Hungover in a Church Pew." B+(**) [sp]

Kala Jula & Gangbé Brass Band: Asro (2019 [2023], Buda Musique): Band with roots in Mali and Benin, feat. credit on cover for Fama Diabaté (voice, balafon), with three guitarists (one also on kora, and everyone adding to the percussion), with added sax and brass from the Gangbé Brass Band. B+(**) [sp]

Izumi Kimura/Gerry Hemingway: Kairos (2022 [2023], Fundacja Sluchaj): Japanese pianist, based in Ireland, has a 2010 album and several more since 2016, including a 2019 trio with the drummer and Barry Guy. Sharper here as a duo, the focus shifting from piano to drums (or marimba or vibraphone), and back again. Then out of nowhere comes something totally different: a trad piece with Hemingway's bluesy, otherworldly vocal. A- [cd]

John Carroll Kirby: Blowout (2023, Stones Throw): Los Angeles-based keyboard player, tenth album since 2015, also lots of pop session work. Dance grooves, but closer to smooth jazz than to techno. B- [sp]

Kool Keith: Black Elvis 2 (2023, Mello Music Group): Veteran rapper Keith Thornton, started with Ultramagnetic MCs (1984-93), also worked as Dr. Octagon and Dr. Dooom (not to be confused with MF Doom, the late Daniel Dumile), used this name for his 1999 release of Black Elvis/Lost in Space, released much more before cycling around for this sequel. (The Return of Dr. Octagon came out in 2006, 10 years after Dr. Octagonecologyst.) Has some of that old school bite. B+(**) [sp]

Lil Uzi Vert: Pink Tape (2023, Generation Now/Atlantic): Rapper Symere Woods, from Philadelphia, third album, a big one at 87:03 (26 songs, 3 billed as bonuses). Mostly stuff I have trouble distinguishing from dozens of other young rappers, although the beats and production are above average. Then there are the metal mash ups with Bring Me the Horizon and Babymetal. Not awful, but wtf? B+(**) [sp]

Aja Monet: When the Poems Do What They Do (2023, Drink Sum Wtr): Poet, from Brooklyn, last name Bacquie, four books since 2012, first album, songs co-credited to the musicians: Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah (trumpet), Weedie Braimah (percussion), Luques Curtis (bass guitar), Marcus Gilmore (drums), Elena Pinderhughes (flute), and Samora Pinderhughes (piano). Much remarkable here, but it does go on awfully long (83:00), and demands a lot of attention. A- [sp]

Margaux Oswald/Jesper Zeuthen: Magnetite (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Swiss pianist, based in Copenhagen, has a couple previous albums. Duo with Zeuthen, who is Danish, older (b. 1949), plays alto sax, played in Pierre Dørge's New Jungle Orchestra. B+(***) [sp]

Bruno Parrinha/Vine Leaf: Tales of Senses (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Just the group name on the cover, which is an English translation of the Portuguese alto saxophonist's name. With Luis Lopes (guitar) and João Valinho (drums). Strong, steady. B+(***) [sp]

Emanuele Parrini/Samo Salamon/Vasco Trilla: Eating Poetry (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Italian violinist, debut a duo album in 1998, joined here by guitar (from Slovenia) and drums (from Portugal). B+(**) [sp]

Phiik & Lungs: Another Planet 4 (2023, Tase Grip/Break All): Two rappers from New York, otherwise I know very little about them. B+(*) [sp]

Peso Pluma: Génesis (2023, Double P): Mexican rapper, sings more, actual name Hassan Emilio Kabande Laija, father traces roots back to Lebanon, third album. B+(**) [sp]

Marek Pospieszalski: No Other End of the World Will There Be: Based on the Works of Polish Female Composers of the 20th Century (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Polish saxophonist, leads an octet here. Listing the composers, or even the musicians, would be an obscure exercise (not that I don't recognize trumpet player Tomasz Dabrowski). I rarely like records that lean this much toward classical, but this keeps me interested. B+(**) [sp]

Sexyy Red: Hood Hottest Princess (2023, Heavy on It): Rapper Janae Wherry, from St. Louis, second mixtape. No doubt she puts out, but B+(*) [sp]

Liba Villavecchia Trio: Birchwood (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Alto saxophonist from Barcelona, Discogs lists two items 1999-2002 but kicked off from 2020 on. Second Trio album with Alex Reviriego (bass) and Vasco Trilla (drums). Sounds great at first, then pretty good as the riffs roll on. B+(***) [sp]

WiFiGawd & Soudiere: 36 Chambers of Pressure Vol. 2 (2023, Purple Posse, EP): DC rapper, has a lot of work out since 2016, as does French DJ Soudiere, their first volume (9 songs, 23:47) out in October 2022. This one offers 9 more songs (22:03). Tight in the groove, or buried in the mix. B [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Brew: Heat/Between Reflections (1998-2019 [2023], Clean Feed, 2CD): Trio of Miya Masaoka (koto), Reggie Workman (bass), and Gerry Hemingway (drums). Masaoka was born in Washington DC, lived in Paris, studied in San Francisco, is based in New York, is a master of many traditional Japanese instruments, has appeared on 50+ albums, mostly with free jazz figures. First disc, with two 1998-99 sessions, is deeply compelling. The latter disc is a recent session, considerably lighter. A- [cd]

Luther Thomas: 11th Street Fire Suite (1978 [2023], Corbett vs. Dempsey): Alto saxophonist (1950-2009), from St. Louis, was involved in the Black Artists Group, Human Arts Ensemble, and Saint Louis Creative Ensemble, with just a handful of albums under his own name. Mostly solo -- Luther C. Petty gets a flute credit -- including voice and "little instruments." Starts out of tune, and never really gets on track. C+ [bc]

Old music:

Izumi Kimura: Asymmetry: Piano Music From Japan and Ireland (2009 [2010], Diatribe): Japanese pianist, born in Yokohama but based in Ireland. First album. Label ran a "Solo Series" with four releases each in 2010 and 2014, with no one else I've heard of. Composed pieces, alternating as advertised, still not easy to dive in randomly and discern which is which, but I'm hardly one to know. B+(**) [sp]

Izumi Kimura/Cora Venus Lunny: Invisible Resistances (2022, Farpoint): Lunny is an Irish violinist, daughter of a noted Irish folk musician, has a few albums since 2011. Duet with pianist Kimura. B+(*) [sp]

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Maria Da Rocha/Ernesto Rodrigues/Daniel Levin/João Madeira: Hoya (Creative Sources) [06-01]
  • Gabriel Espinosa: Bossas and Boleros (Zoho) [06-23]
  • Doug MacDonald Trio: Edwin Alley (DMAC Music) [08-01]
  • Ernesto Rodrigues/Florian Stoffner/Bruno Parrinha/João Madeira: Altered Egos (Creative Sources) [06-01]
  • Ernesto Rodrigues/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Flak/João Madeira/José Oliveira: The Giving Tree Moving On (Creative Sources) [06-01]
  • Paul Tynan & Aaron Lington: Bicoastal Collective: Chapter Six (OA2) [07-21]

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