Monday, July 31, 2023

Music Week

July archive (final).

Music: Current count 40636 [40606] rated (+30), 14 [14] unrated (-0).

Seemed unlikely I would hit 30 albums this week, as I've started every day with something old (Fats Waller today), and often found myself uncertain what to play next. The two A- records this week were recommended by Brad Luen and Chris Monsen, having largely exhausted Phil Overeem's July 2 list. Only things that nudged me up to 30 were writing an extra-long Speaking of Which and, when my initial count was 29, an EP recommended by Harbinger Entity.

The reviews will have to speak for themselves. What follows is mostly rant, meant mostly just to clear my head, so no real reason for you not to jump to to the review section. End of the month, so the July archive is final (link above), but I'll post this before I wrap up the indexing.

I've been plagued by technical problems lately. My top problem today was getting a Fujitsu ScanSnap ix1300 scanner to work with my computer (a home-built running Xubuntu 22.04). The SANE supported devices list says it's supported (except for wi-fi, which I neither need nor want), but I've spent many hours trying to get it to work, wrote several letters, eventually called up Fujitsu. Bottom line seems to be: no way. Fortunately, I should be able to return it (assuming I can get the label printed and/or the QR code scanned, both of which are proving difficult). This appears to be a case not just of getting a proprietary driver in place but of much basic functionality embedded in applications programs.

The printer problem is due to the HP OfficeJet Pro 9010 I bought a year back, which is now refusing jobs sent from my computer. This is the worst purchase I ever made in my life, for lots of reasons, but in theory should work. I need to contact HP, and try to hold back my anger.

I still don't have the email problem fixed. I have a server, which my regular ISP (Cox) refuses to accept email from. I'm thinking about implementing a short-term workaround, but it's quite possible that the underlying problem is keeping other mail from being delivered. One effect of this is that I'm not getting any questions through my form. Also the mail lists are at least partly broken (at least I'm not seeing them). Another problem with the form is that the captcha package (securimage) is no longer supported, so I should probably find a replacement (or just punt).

Another distracting project here is that my Sony 5-CD changer is broken (and Sony is no longer making them). Most likely a bad belt, but getting to it has been arduous, and I'm still not there. (I've looked for professional repairs, but been turned off by the sticker shock, so I've been thrashing.) Given how little I use the upstairs system for, I'm wondering whether it might be better to just replace it with an iPod equivalent, assuming I can load up such a thing from my Linux computers. (If we ever get a new car, I may have to switch to something like that, replacing my well-stocked CD travel cases.) Any suggestions? Longer range, I'd still like to set up a network jukebox.

Also had a very annoying mouse problem (erratic response). I bought a replacement, but it had the same problem. Turns out the fix was to plug the wireless connector into the front USB port instead of the back one.

I also have the usual scads of house projects. Anything outside will have to wait until hell freezes over (minus a month or two, if we're lucky and have a decent autumn). Forecast is 107°F tomorrow, which would be the hottest so far this year (although no record).

End rant.

My friend Max Stewart is presenting a show of his photography (August 4, here in Wichita).

New records reviewed this week:

Aila Trio: Shaped by Sea Waves (2022 [2023], Edgetone): Swedish bassist Georgia Wartel Collins is the writer here, Aila an extra first name. She is based in Norway, second group album, with tenor saxophonist Karl-Hjalmar Nyberg and drummer Andreas Winther. B+(***) [sp]

Akmee: Sacrum Profanum (2022, Nakama): Norwegian quartet, second album: Erik Kimestad Pederson (trumpet), Kjetil Jerve (piano), Erlend Olderskog Albertsen (bass), and Andreas Wildhagen (drums), 3-2-2-1 pieces respectively. B+(**) [bc]

Aphex Twin: Blackbox Life Recorder 21f/In a Room7 F760 (2023, Warp, EP): Electronics producer Richard D James, born in Ireland, grew up in Cornwall, has been recording since 1985, has slowed down of late, with an album in 2014 and several EPs since. Four songs, 14:31. Nice beats, but not much more to it. B+(*) [sp]

Ingebrigt Haker Flaten & Paal Nilssen-Love: Guts & Skins (2022 [2023], PNL): Norwegian bassist and drummer, the rhythm section for Atomic, the Thing, School Days, Scorch Trio, and countless other groups over the last 20-30 years, headline for an explosive octet. Ragged at first, then they slow it down and regroup more impressively. B+(**) [sp]

Aldo Fosko Collective: This One Time (2023, Hitchtone): From Croatia, plays Rhodes piano and bass clarinet, sems to be his/their first album. Fairly large group, generates impressive swing, but Alba Nacinovich's vocals disrupt and/or confound. B+(**) [cd]

Gabriels: Angels & Queens (2023, Atlas Artists/Parlophone): Gospel-inspired soul trio from Los Angeles, Jacob Lusk the lead singer, with Ryan Hope and Ari Balouzian, follows up 2022's short Angels & Queens: Part I (7 tracks, 27:29), with a second part (6 more songs, 21:31), but folds the two parts together. (Adding to the confusion, Spotify has a Deluxe Edition, with a second disc's worth of live and other extras, which I've heard but I'm not factoring in.) B+(**) [sp]

Allan Harris: Live at Blue Llama Jazz Club (2023, Love Productions/Live at Blue Llama): Jazz singer, plays guitar, more than a dozen albums since 1994, writes some: four songs here, out of ten, the covers from "Sunny" to "Nature Boy." With piano, bass, drums, and spots for Irwin Hall (alto sax, flute). B+(**) [cd]

High Pulp: Days in the Desert (2023, Anti-): Los Angeles-based jazz collective, self-released album in 2018, this their second with Anti-. Core group is a sextet, no names I recognize, with guest spots, including one track each for James Brandon Lewis (tenor sax), Brandee Younger (harp), Jeff Parker and Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar), Daedelus and Telemakus (electronics). B+(**) [sp]

Carly Rae Jepsen: The Loveliest Time (2023, Silent): Canadian pop star, seventh album, but this is the second of those compiled from extra scraps -- there are also remix albums of two others -- these from the sessions that gave us The Loneliest Time. B+(***) [sp]

Russ Johnson Quartet: Reveal (2022 [2023], Calligram): Trumpet player, based in Chicago after a couple decades in New York, albums since 2004, moving from left of mainstream to farther out. Quartet with Mark Feldman (violin), Ethan Phillon (bass), and Tim Daisy (drums). Starts off with a romp, but less striking when they slow down, by which I mostly mean the violin. B+(**) [cd] [08-04]

Sarathy Korwar: KAL (Real World) (2023, The Leaf Label): London-based drummer, born in US but grew up in India, where he learned tabla. Three studio albums, plus this live one, offered as a companion to his 2022 album Kalak. Mostly stripped down to rhythm here, some reminding me of DJ Shadow. B+(**) [sp]

Jessy Lanza: Love Hallucination (2023, Hyperdub): Electropop singer-songwriter, from Ontario, fourth album (or fifth if you include her DJ-Kicks). B+(*) [sp]

Large Unit: New Map (2021 [2022], PNL): Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love's avant big band, several albums since 2014, this particular iteration lists 15 musicians, with 3 brass (trumpet/trombone/tuba), 3 reeds, 2 basses, 3 drums/percussion, and scattered others (guitar, harp, accordion, electronics). Two long pieces, one shorter, tend to hold back their firepower for interesting ambiance. B+(**) [sp]

Large Unit: Clusterfuck (2021 [2022], PNL): A second album released the same day, same group, recorded during the same three-day stretch, with more three pieces (48:52). A little more thrash, perhaps to justify the title. B+(**) [sp]

The Lemon Twigs: Everything Harmony (2023, Captured Tracks): Soft rock band from Long Island -- seems more accurate than Wikipedia's other genres (indie pop, or various rocks: indie, pop, power, glam, art, baroque). So soft it is. Also rather glum: "every day is the worst day of my life." C+ [sp]

Mahalia: IRL (2023, Atlantic): British neo-soul singer, last name Burkmar, second album after a compilation of earlier singles and EPs. B+(***) [sp]

Rita Ora: You & I (2023, BMG): Pop singer, born in Kosovo, moved to England when she was a baby, parents added Ora to their original surname (Sahatçiu). Third album since 2012. B+(**) [sp]

Mehmet Ali Sanlikol & Whatsnext?: Turkish Hipster (2023, Dunya): Turkish composer, born in Istanbul of parents from Cyprus, studied at Berklee and remains in Boston. Fourth album, his group named after his 2013 debut. Title is apt enough, but the widely scattered styles, ranging from trad to hip-hop to symphonic (I'll have to take his word for "psychedelic") cancel each other out. B [cd]

Skrillex: Quest for Fire (2023, OWSLA/Atlantic): Electronica producer Sonny Moore, debut was a 2009 EP, and that's been his main vehicle, with only one studio album (2014) before two this year. B+(*) [sp]

Skrillex: Don't Get Too Close (2023, OWSLA/Atlantic): Third album, released a day after his second. Tools are the same, but this seems more substantial as song -- not that I'm quick enough to be sure of what they're worth. B+(**) [sp]

Dudu Tassa/Jonny Greenwood: Jarak Qaribak (2023, World Circuit): Israeli (Mizrahi) musician, leads the group Dudu Tassa & the Kuwaitis, which play songs based on Iraqi classics, including songs by Tassa's grandfather and great-uncle Daoud and Salih Al-Kuwaity. The group opened for Radiohead in 2017, leading to this collaboration. Sounds Arabic to my ears. B+(*) [sp]

Felo Le Tee/Mellow & Sleazy: The III Wise Men (2023, New Money Gang): South African amapiano trio, affiliated somehow with DJ Maphorisa (Themba Sonnyboy Sekowe), although the producer names that appear here areTshelofelo Mokhine, Phemelo Sefanyetse, and Olebogeng Kwanaite (plus Mlotlasi Phoshoko on one track). Beats are inscrutable enough they take quite a while to settle in, and will be hard to distinguish from future efforts. But pretty good for now. A- [sp]

Sam Weinberg Trio With Chris Lightcap & Tom Rainey: Implicatures (2022 [2023], Astral Spirits): Tenor saxophonist, has appeared on a number of albums since 2016, not someone I've recognized so far, but his bassist and drummer are prominent enough they got their names on the cover. They help a lot, but Weinberg himself gives a clinic on what free jazz sax needs to sound like to keep your attention throughout. A- [bc]

YMA & Jadsa: Zelena (2023, self-released, EP): Brazilian artists, very little info I can find on either (Jadsa's surname is Castro, and comes from Salvador). Six songs, 18:38. B+(*) [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Nina Simone: You've Got to Learn (1966 [2023], Verve): Piano-playing jazz singer-songwriter, with a previously unreleased seven track, 32:56 live set from Newport Jazz Festival. Backed by guitar (Rudy Stevenson), bass ( Lisle Atkinson), and drums (Bobby Hamilton). B+(*) [sp]

Old music:

Aila Trio: Aila Trio (2018, Hoo-Ha): Trio led by Swedish bassist-composer Georgia Wartel Collins, with Karl Hjalmar Nyberg (tenor sax/clarinet) and Andreas Skċr Winther (drums). Nice sax tone. Nice bass solos, too. B+(**) [sp]

High Pulp: Pursuit of Ends (2022, Anti-): Jazz collective, came together in Seattle, self-released an album in 2018, then sold this one to a rock label. Simplifying the credits a bit: Bobby Granfelt (drums), Rob Homan (keyboards), Antoine Martel (guitars), Andrew Morrill (alto sax), Victory Nguyen (tenor/soprano sax, flute, trumpet), and Scott Rixon (bass & guitar), with a couple guests (Theo Croker, Jacob Mann, Jaleel Shaw, Brandee Younger) featured on one track each, and a few spare parts. B+(*) [sp]

Roots of Rock (1927-37 [1979], Yazoo): Actually just a country blues sampler, from a label which did yeoman work rescuing classic recordings, cleaning up the sound, organizing them into LPs, and later reissuing them on CD without trying to cram more into them (this one came out in 1991). These songs run early -- only Blind Blake came later than 1931. The title/cover concept is ridiculous: rock mostly came out of later jump blues, thematically shifted for the emerging teen market. But many (all?) of these songs got revisited in the 1960s, and recognizing their sources opened a few eyes. B+(***) [sp]

Co Streiff-Russ Johnson Quartet: In Circles (2011, Intakt): Dutch saxophonist (alto/soprano), wrote four pieces to the three by the American trumpet player, the Quartet rounded out with Christian Weber (bass) and Julian Sartorius (drums). B+(*) [r]

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Aline's Etoile Magique: Eclipse (Elastic) [08-25]
  • Kris Davis Diatom Ribbons: Live at the Village Vanguard (Pyroclastic, 2CD) [09-01]
  • Ember: August in March (Imani) [08-11]
  • Pascal Le Boeuf: Ritual Being (SoundSpore) [08-25]
  • James Brandon Lewis Red Lily Quintet: For Mahalia, With Love (Tao Forms, 2CD) [09-08]
  • Doug Richards Orchestra: Through a Sonic Prism: The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim (self-released) [09-08]
  • Todd Sickafoose: Bear Proof (Secret Hatch) [09-29]
  • SLUGish Ensemble: In Solitude (Slow & Steady) [09-15]

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