Monday, August 21, 2023

Music Week

August archive (in progress).

Tweet: Music Week: 32 albums, 1 A-list,

Music: Current count 40728 [40696] rated (+32), 19 [22] unrated (-3).

Another big Speaking of Which yesterday (8215 words, 134 links, words slightly below last week's record, but links are up). Since posting, I added a link to a piece on Stephen Miller's America First Legal suit against Target for losing money in a right-wing anti-woke boycott. I saw this story early in the week, and meant to link to it, but missed it in the round up rush.

I figured there was no chance I'd hit 30 albums this week, both due to distractions and a (probably seasonal) shortfall of tips, but I found some priority jazz albums in my tracking file, and they led me to some more, with the Lucas Niggli oldies pushing me over the top. I've long wanted to hit 100% of Intakt's back catalog.

I wound up the week with zero A- records, but thought Noname and Margaret Glaspy merited another spin (or as it turns out, three each). Noname was the easier promotion, but the best Glaspy songs are quite solid, and my main reservation is that sometimes my mind wanders. Similar exposure might have promoted Neil Young, or either or both Ivo Perelmans, but I chose not to go there. I think those grades are solid enough.

I finally did the indexing for July Streamnotes. I barely average 30 records per week in July, so I guess this has been going on longer than I thought. Sometimes it feels like a pointless grind, but like Speaking of Which, it's one of the few things I can do these days without too much strain.

Lots of useful information in Philipp Ther's How the West Lost the Peace, but it doesn't really live up to the promise of the title. It certainly is true that the West's single-minded pursuit of neoliberal capitalism caused harm every step of the way, but equally important was the blind spot that grew unaware as "defense." That Russia, having been excluded from integration with Europe both militarily and economically, and coming up on the short end of both sticks, would revive imperial longings now seems inevitable, even if completely foolish. Ther understands this on some level, but in the end comes down so emphatically on the side of Ukraine that he offers no exit path.

I was thinking I would read Christopher Clark's Revolutionary Spring: Europe Aflame and the Fight for a New World, 1848-1849 next, but had to go to the doctor today, and wanted to carry a smaller book. Scrounging through my old shelves, I found a 1962 paperback of EJ Hobsbawm's The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848, which leads up to that period. I bought it ages ago (the paperback price is $1.25), but don't recall ever actually reading it, but now I have to admit that the first chapter is one of the most brilliant pieces of historical writing I've ever encountered. I doubt I'll be able to put it down (even though I just read a pretty good short overview of the French Revolution in David A Bell's Men on Horseback: The Power of Charisma in the Age of Revolution).

Correction: The Doug MacDonald album I reviewed last month as Big Band Extravaganza was actually titled Edwin Alley, and credited to Doug MacDonald Trio. Big Band Extravaganza was reviewed in January. Both reviews are so cryptic I doubt anyone noticed, but I've seen several hints that I screwed up, and balancing the books finally proved it.

New records reviewed this week:

Anitta: Funk Generation: A Favela Love Story (2023, Republic, EP): Brazilian singer-songwriter, Larissa de Macedo Machado, has several albums since 2013, this turns out to be a very short one (billed as a single, but 3 songs, 7:33), dance rhythms clicking. B+(**) [sp]

Itamar Borochov: Arba (2022 [2023], Greenleaf Music): Trumpet player, born in Israel, based in Brooklyn, fourth album since 2011 (Arba is Hebrew for four). Really nice trumpet, backed by piano (Rob Clearfield), bass (Rick Rosato), and drums (Jay Sawyer), with a bit of oud and some vocal effects. B+(***) [cd] [09-09]

Grian Chatten: Chaos for the Fly (2023, Partisan): Frontman for Irish post-punk rockers Fontaines D.C. tries a solo album, very different in style and pace. B+(**) [sp]

Claire Daly With George Garzone: VuVu for Frances (2021 [2023], Daly Bread): Baritone saxophonist, side credits back to 1990, only a handful of albums as leader. Garzone lends his tenor sax to broaden out the leads, a nice set of standards which rarely gets rowdy, backed by piano (Jon Davis), bass (Dave Hofstra), and drums (David F. Gibson). B+(**) [sp]

Dazegxd & Quinn: DSX.FM (2023, DeadAir, EP): Young beat producer, with young rapper Quinn Dupree. Scattered at first, but finds a crude groove. Seven tracks, 13:43. B+(*) [sp]

Kent Engelhardt & Stephen Enos: Madd for Tadd: "Central Avenue Swing" & "Our Delight" (2020 [2023], Tighten Up, 2CD): Alto sax and trumpet, the former a mainstay of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, running a full blown big band playing Tadd Dameron songs and a few originals, situating them in the transition from swing to bop. Several vocals by Erin Keckan are treats. B+(***) [cd]

Tianna Esperanza: Terror (2023, BMG): First album, 22, hard to piece together a coherent biography: British grandmother Paloma McLardy was in the Slits and the Raincoats, but she's mixed race, grew up on Cape Cod, through a litany of terrors she recounts in the presumably autobiographical title song (or if not, she has a pretty grim imagination). Comparisons to Nina Simone are apt, starting with the voice, but she's picked up more history than her publicity lets on. Could be an album that sticks with you, or misses. B+(***) [sp]

Miya Folick: Roach (2023, Nettwerk): Singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, studied acting at NYU before returning to USC. Second album. One review describes this as her "quarter life crisis." Most impressive when her anger rises, as in "Get Out of My House." B+(**) [sp]

Frog Squad: Special Noise (2023, Mahakala Music): Jazz group from Memphis, principally David Collins (guitar, vibes, keys, percussion) and Khari Wynn (bass), with a couple label ringers like Chad Fowler and Aaron Phillips joining in. Group has at least two previous albums, including Frog Squad Plays Satie. They lay it on pretty thick here. B+(*) [sp]

Margaret Glaspy: Echo the Diamond (2023, ATO): Singer-songwriter, from California, based in New York, third album since 2016 (Emotions and Math, a Christgau A-). She is at her best defending her "Female Brain," which in that case came up with something a bit funkier than usual. A- [sp]

Gloss Up: Shades of Gloss (2023, Quality Control): Memphis rapper Jerrica Russel, second album this year. B+(**) [sp]

K-Lone: Swells (2023, Wisdom Teeth): British electronica producer Josiah Gladwell, second album. B+(*) [sp]

Kimbra: A Reckoning (2023, self-released: Pop singer-songwriter from New Zealand, full name Kimbra Lee Johnson, fourth album. B+(**) [sp]

Låpsley: Cautionary Tales of Youth (2023, Believe): English pop singer-songwriter Holly Lapsley Fletcher, dressed up her middle name to look Scandinavian, third album. This slips up on you. B+(**) [sp]

Pat Metheny: Dream Box (2021-22 [2023], Modern): Guitarist, active since 1976, mostly in fusion bands I don't much care for, although he has other interests that sometimes bear fruit. This one is solo, quietly elegant. B+(*) [sp]

Lucas Niggli Sound of Serendipity Tentet: Play! (2023, Intakt): Swiss drummer, couple dozen albums since 1993, surprised there is no Wikipedia page for him, as his albums with Ali Keïta and Jan Galega Brönnimann are personal favorites. Large group here, but not many horns (tenor sax, tuba, flute), with organ, accordion, violin, celesta, melodica, bass, double drums, and voice/electronics (Joana Maria Aderl). B+(**) [r]

Noname: Sundial (2023, self-released): Rapper Fatima Warner, second album after a breakout mixtape, subtle beats under a torrent of words, some from guests who threaten politics. Before I got to this I heard cries of "antisemitism" just because Jay Electronica dropped a verse that namechecked Farrakhan -- far from the only preacher who wishes God's wrath on others, but the one whose name automatically elicits instant opprobrium -- and delved into the murky prophecies of Armageddon. (Perhaps even more politically incorrect these days, he says "a joke like Zelenskyy.") More explicitly political is the later verse by Billy Woods, recalling his childhood with revolution in Africa, or for that matter the closer with the more liberal Common. All reflect back on racism, which I figure is fair game, especially done this seductively, in a brief 31:54. A- [sp]

Arturo O'Farrill: Legacies (2023, Blue Note): Pianist, son of Cuban bandleader Chico O'Farrill, based in New York, typically records with the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, but drops down to a trio here, with Liany Mateo (bass) and Zack O'Farrill (drums). One original, one track by his father, the rest jazz standards, including Monk and Powell, Rollins and Hancock. B+(*) [sp]

Okonski: Magnolia (2020-21 [2023], Colemine): Trio, with Steve Okonski (piano), Michael Isvara "Ish" Montgomery (bass), and Aaron Frazer (drums). First album, all pieces jointly credited. B+(*) [sp]

Genesis Owusu: Struggler (2023, Ourness/AWAL): Rapper/singer, born in Ghana, grew up in Australia, second album. B+(**) [sp]

Ivo Perelman/Aruan Ortiz/Lester St. Louis: Prophecy (2023, Mahakala Music): Tenor sax, piano, and cello, two long improv pieces (55:10) recorded in Brooklyn. Their Brazilian and Cuban sources, with their African and Iberian roots, may enter a bit more than usual, as they feel each other out. B+(***) [bc]

Ivo Perelman/James Emery: The Whisperers (2023, Mahakala Music): Duo, tenor sax and guitar, thirteen improv pieces recorded in Brooklyn. Emery goes back to the 1980s, played in String Trio of New York, a duo with Leroy Jenkins, and various others. B+(***) [bc]

Bobby Rozario: Spellbound (2019-21 [2023], Origin): Guitarist, mother a semi-classican Indian vocalist, father a Brazilian drummer, grandfather a band master in the Brazilian Army, bio jumps around a lot without explaining where he landed. Strong Latin beat in much of this, several vocals, but something more. John McLauglin is almost certainly an influence, but that's just a starting point. B+(***) [cd] [08-26]

Tamara Stewart: Woman (2023, self-released): Country singer, born in Australia, based in Nashville, Discogs lists two 2001-05 albums, website offers three more recent efforts (2012, 2018, 2023), a lyric places her at 44. B+(**) [sp]

David Virelles: Carta (2022 [2023], Intakt): Cuban pianist, moved to Canada after 2001, studying and playing with Jane Bunnett, and on to New York in 2009. Eighth album, a trio with Ben Street (bass) and Eric McPherson (drums), both prominently credited on the cover. B+(**) [r]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Anthony Branker & Ascent: Spirit Songs (2004 [2023], Origin): Composer, born in New Jersey, parents from Trinidad and Barbados, has a 1980 debut album but discography really starts up with Spirit Songs in 2005. This appears to be a prequel, dusted off as a tribute to the late drummer, Ralph Peterson Jr. Sextet with Ralph Bowen (tenor/soprano sax), Antonio Hart (alto/soprano sax), Clifford Adams Jr. (trombone), Jonny King (piano), John Benitez (bass), and Peterson. B+(***) [cd] [08-26]

George Cartwright: The Ghostly Bee (2005 [2023], Mahakala Music): Saxophonist, best known for his 1984-2003 group Curlew, plus scattered releases under his own name since 1979. This one appeared on Innova, a quintet with guitar (Davey Williams), keyboards (Chris Parker), bass, and drums, organized as two long "suites" (77:37 total, all improvised). B+(*) [bc]

George Cartwright: A Tenacious Slew (2007 [2023], Mahakala Music): Another reissue, originally on Innova. Includes a bit of poetry by Anne Elias. B+(*) [bc]

Neil Young: Chrome Dreams (1974-77 [2023], Reprise): Demo album, considered for release in 1977, leaked in the 1990s as a bootleg, so now is official, 16 years after the release of another album, Chrome Dreams II. Most songs solo, but some are fleshed out with a band, notably "Like a Hurricane." Most of the songs appeared on his next four albums, up to 1980, with a couple stragglers. Those four albums run { A-, A, A+, A- } in my book, so this should too, but adds little, and feels a bit tentative. B+(***) [r]

Old music:

Lucas Niggli Zoom: Spawn of Speed (2000 [2001], Intakt): Swiss drummer, albums since 1993, this the first of four with this trio of Nils Wogram (trombone) and Philipp Schaufelberger (guitar). One of those odd three-legged stools that looks wobbly but somehow holds up. B+(**) [sp]

Lucas Niggli Zoom: Rough Ride (2002, Intakt): Second album by this trombone-guitar-drums trio. B+(*) [sp]

Lucas Niggli Drum Quartet: Beat Bag Bohemia (2007 [2008], Intakt): Three drummers plus Rolando Lamussene on djembe, mbira, voice, percussion. B+(**) [sp]

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Roberto Magris & the JM Horns: High Quote (2012, JM)

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