An occasional blog about populist politics and popular music, not necessarily at the same time.
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Monday, October 9, 2023
Music: Current count 40983  rated (+22), 26  unrated (-5).
I expected this week's report to be delayed, and even so short. My plan was to entertain company, and do some fairly serious cooking. My niece came for a visit, but I came down with something undiagnosed and was a terrible host (though I did finally manage to knock out a decent phat thai). But rather than wait another day or two, I found a few minutes to knock this out before bed Monday, and figured it would be best to put it behind me.
Speaking of Which posted Sunday afternoon. I haven't followed the news since then, but I do have one important thing to say:
Anyone who has been paying attention must recognize by now how the Israeli people have been primed to commit massive and indiscriminate slaughter. And they must also understand that Israel, unlike Hamas, has the military power to do so. When Americans swear they continue to stand wholeheartedly with Israel, and don't show any concern for the great likelihood that Israel will commit atrocities, they are assuring Israeli leaders that anything they do will be excused. By the way, the one thing sending American naval ships into the Eastern Mediterranean reminds me of is how they stood by idly while Sharon orchestrated the Sabra and Shatila massacre of Palestinian refugees in Beirut.
As someone who believes in peace, and who has always condemned violence and prejudice on all sides, I am bothered that Hamas has chosen to respond to this cruel occupation in such a manner. But I am also aware that nothing else any group of Palestinians have attempted to secure fundamental human rights that we take for granted in America has made any headway with Israel.
For now, I'll leave it at that, aside from reproducing a tweet I managed Sunday evening:
Nothing much to add to the reviews below, except that the new ones that came closest (Armand Hammer, Sarah Mary Chadwick) got multiple plays without quite convincing me. And while I showed a slight preference for one of the Yazoo comps, I would have gone with the higher grade for a 2-CD package.
New records reviewed this week:
Armand Hammer: We Buy Diabetic Test Strips (2023, Fat Possum): Hip-hop duo of Billy Woods and Elucid (Chaz Hall), sixth album. Hard, and I'm not sure why. (Gave this some extra plays, and it doesn't wear thin. If anything, it gets harder.) B+(***) [sp]
Bowmanville: Bowmanville (2023, StonEagleMusic): Chicago group, cites their local blues legacy and Django Reinhardt's Hot Club de Paris as inspirations -- the latter with its guitar and violin swing (Mason Jilier and Ethan Adelsman), the former with a harmonica-playing blues shouter (Graham Nelson), plus two bassists and a drummer. Six originals (mostly Adelsman) and five covers: "Georgia," "Fly Me to the Moon," "Saint James Infirmary," "Caravan," and "La Vie En Rose." B+(**) [cd]
Geof Bradfield/Richard D Johnson/John Tate/Samuel Jewell: Our Heroes (2023, Afar Music): Saxophonist (tenor, soprano, bass clarinet), backed by piano, bass, drums. Mainstream, very nice. B+(***) [cd]
Sarah Mary Chadwick: Messages to God (2023, Kill Rock Stars): New Zealand born, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter, eighth album since 2012. Mostly declaiming sharp words over piano, although the music picks up a bit midway, probably attributable to producer Tony Espie. B+(***) [sp]
DJ Sabrina the Teenage DJ: Destiny (2023, Spells on the Telly): London-based electronica duo, anonymous but reportedly siblings, aliases DJ Sabrina (as in Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and Salem, in business since 2017. Ninth album (per Discogs, plus a bunch of compilations and mixtapes), this one a monster: 41 songs, 236:00. Way too much. B+(*) [bc]
Arina Fujiwara: Neon (2023, self-released): Pianist, graduated from Manhattan School of Music, first album (or EP, as it's billed: six tracks, 29:26). With string quartet, vibes, guitar, bass, and drums. B+(*) [cd]
Andrew Krasilnikov: Bloody Belly Comb Jelly (2023, Rainy Days): Saxophonist, plays soprano and C-melody here, probably Russian (studied at Berklee and lived in New York before a "return to his roots" moved him to Moscow. Possibly his first album, recorded in Moscow, on a label which recently moved from St. Petersburg to Israel. Quartet with piano-bass-drums, plus spots for extra horns (many on the title track) and marimba. B [cd]
Jeff Lederer With Mary LaRose: Schoenberg on the Beach (2023, Little (i) Music): Saxophonist, plays clarinet and flute here, composed this song cycle based on the twelve-tone music of Schoenberg and Webern, with texts by Goethe, Rilke, and others, sung by La Rose. In other words, this is way too fancy for me to figure out, and just annoying enough to keep me from wanting to try, but yeah, there's something here if you're up to it. B+(*) [cd]
Jeff Lederer/Morningside Tone Collective: Balls of Simplicity: Jeff Lederer Notated Works 1979-2021 (2023, Little (i) Music): "Chamber works" composed over the saxophonist's career. The group is: Leo Sussman (flute), Emmaile Tello (clarinet), Francesca Abusamra (violin), Jordan Bartow (cello), and Weiwei Zhai (piano), conducted by Lederer (although one piece calls for two clarinets), with Jamie Saft as guest pianist. B+(**) [sp]
Ivan Lins: My Heart Speaks (2023, Resonance): Brazilian singer-songwriter, b. 1945, fifty or so albums since 1970, I can't find a recording date (a bit troubling from a label that specializes in archival finds, but they're calling it a "follow up to Eddie Daniels' 2020 acclaimed Resonance tribute to Ivan Lins, Night Kisses," itself a "follow-up to Grammy-nominated Egberti Gismonti tribute!"). Featured guest spots here for Dianne Reeves, Jane Monheit, Tawanda, and Randy Brecker. Songs are Lins classics, played for ultimate lushness by the 91-piece Tblisi Symphony Orchestra. B+(**) [cd]
Madre Vaca: Knights of the Round Table (2022 , Madre Vaca): Jazz collective, from Jacksonville, several previous albums, eleven credits this time, for an eclectic mix. B+(*) [cd] [11-21]
Astghik Martirosyan: Distance (2021 , Astghik Music): Armenian singer, plays piano (as does co-producer Vardan Ovsepian), first album, recorded in Los Angeles, refashions Armenian folk songs. B+(*) [cd] [10-06]
Colette Michaan: Earth Rebirth (2022 , Creatrix Music): Flute player, from New York, four previous albums (back to 2004). Not an instrument I'm particularly fond of, but the bouncy Latin rhythms keep it in the air. B+(*) [cd] [10-15]
Michael Musillami/Rich Syracuse/Jeff Siegel: Flight of Evangeline (2021 , Playscape): Guitarist, couple albums in the 1980s, picked up the pace after he founded Playscape in 2000. Trio with bass and drums. B+(**) [sp]
Elsa Nilsson's Band of Pulses: Pulses (2023, Ears & Eyes): Flute player, from Sweden, based on Brooklyn, classical background, member of Esthesis Quartet. This project, backed by piano, bass, and drums, sports spoken word by poet Maya Angelou. B+(***) [cd]
Oneohtrix Point Never: Again (2023, Warp): Daniel Lopatin, tenth studio album under this alias, other work under his own name (mostly for films) and other aliases. Synths, sometimes configured for strings, a peculiar mix of background dreck with moments that sound pretty interesting, but never really develop. B [sp]
Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Borrowed Flowers (2023, Top Stop Music): Cuban pianist, long based in Florida, thirty-some albums since 1987. Solo here, venerable standards (unless one wants to get snide about Lennon/McCartney and Sting), most done perhaps a bit too slow, but "Take Five" is irrepressible. B+(**) [cd]
Sara Serpa & André Matos: Night Birds (2022 , Robalo Music): Jazz singer, from Portugal, or maybe I should say art singer, as she works in a slow idiom that's suggestive of but not quite as arch as classical. Many of her albums are duos with a solo instrument, like Ran Blake on piano, or Matos on guitar (her third duo with him). Certainly artful. B [cd]
Gianluigi Trovesi: Stravaganze Consonanti (2014 , ECM): Italian saxophonist, debut 1978, plays alto and clarinet here, with a small orchestra (11 pieces: strings, two oboes, bassoon, archiute, harpsichord, percussion/electronics), on a mostly classical program (Purcell, Dufay, Desprez, three Italians I don't recall hearing of, Trovesi himself). B+(*) [sp]
Ben Winkelman: Heartbeat (2023, OA2): Pianist, originally from Oregon, sixth album since 2007, mostly trios, this one adding Gilad Hekselman on guitar (5 of 9 tracks), not much of a difference. B [cd]
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
Holy Church of the Ecstatic Soul: A Higher Power: Gospel, Funk & Soul at the Crossroads 1971-83 (1971-83 , Soul Jazz): The label has a track record of putting together expert compilations around surprising concepts, so something like this is usually worth a go. But my interest in gospel has long been limited, such that I've only rated records by one artist included here (Swan Silvertones, and nothing since 1965), and haven't even heard of (at least they're not in my "shopping" database) half of them. I do hear the funk here, but don't see why we need to bother God about it. B+(*) [sp]
The Rose Grew Round the Briar: Early American Rural Love Songs, Vol. 1 (1920s-30s , Yazoo): Typical of this label's fine compilations, twenty-three songs from collectors of 78s, nicely integrated because the races had more in common than the law wanted you to think. B+(***) [sp]
The Rose Grew Round the Briar: Early American Rural Love Songs, Vol. 2 (1920s-30s , Yazoo): Twenty-three more love songs, every bit as notable, partly because more than half of the artists return. I give this volume a slight edge, although it could just be that it ends even stronger. A- [sp]
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week: