Blog Entries [10 - 19]

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Streamnotes (February 2017)

For the second time in three months I let the calendar flip over before posting this column, then had to backdate the post to match the allotted month. I guess I can blame February for not having enough days. It's not like I don't have a full load of albums below.

Still, no time to write a proper introduction. A few 2017 releases this time, more list scrounging from 2016, even a few 2015 stragglers.


Most of these are short notes/reviews based on streaming records from Napster (formerly Rhapsody; other sources are noted in brackets). They are snap judgments based on one or two plays, accumulated since my last post along these lines, back on January 28. Past reviews and more information are available here (9286 records).


Recent Releases

Rez Abbasi & Junction: Behind the Vibration (2015 [2016], Cuneiform): Pakistani-American guitarist, has dabbled in South Asian (and African) projects but much of his work is squarely within the jazz mainstream. Quartet with Mark Shim (tenor sax, midi wind-controller), Ben Stivers (keyboards, organ), and Kenny Grohowski (drums) -- a combo which hints of soul jazz without sinking into blues. B+(**) [bc]

Africans With Mainframes: K.M.T. (2016, Soul Jazz): Hieroglyphic Being (Jamal Moss) and Nolelan Reusse, first full-length album, title stands for Kemetic Modulating Textures (although Napster calls it Soul Jazz Records Presents Africans . . . -- I don't see K.M.T. on the cover). This is considered Chicago acid house. As Andy Beta wrote of Moss, "for every CD-R of synth squalls there is another full of manic drum machine polyrhythms." He brings his whole kit together here. A-

Oren Ambarchi: Hubris (2016, Editions Mego): Guitarist, percussionist, born in Australia, roots Iraqi Jewish, has fifty-some records since 1998. One piece split into three parts: a fast, complex drumbeat with distorted guitar, an impressive trick that deserves to run on for 40 minutes. A-

Angles 9: Disappeared Behind the Sun (2016 [2017], Clean Feed): Alto/tenor saxophonist Martin Küchen's nonet: three brass (notably Magnus Broo), a second sax (Eirik Hegdal on baritone), piano-bass-drums plus Mattias Ståhl on vibes. A powerhouse group but they seem to have trouble keeping in sync here -- can amaze when they do hold it together. B+(**) [cd]

A$AP Ferg: Always Strive and Prosper (2016, Polo Grounds/RCA): Darold D. Brown Ferguson Jr., like others in the A$AP Mob collective adapted his name accordingly. Second album, packed with cameos without sounding overripe. B+(**)

Autolux: Pussy's Dead (2016. 30th Century/Columbia): LA-based shoegaze group, previous albums in 2004 and 2010 so they're not rushing things. On Danger Mouse's label, produced by Boots. Aesthetic summed up in lyric: "it's so so sad to be happy all the time." B+(***)

Ballister: Slag (2015 [2017], Aerophonic): Avant-sax trio, Dave Rempis (alto/tenor sax) out front, backed by Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello, electronics) and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums). First piece stormed out of the gate, so harsh and loud I had to turn it down to appreciate the drumming. Two more varied pieces followed, adding up to over an hour. B+(*) [bc]

Heather Bambrick: You'll Never Know (2016 [2017], self-released): Canadian standards singer, sixth album since 2003 (plus one as The Beehive Singers). Backed by piano, guitar, bass and drums, with splashes of trumpet and sax. As good as her songs; e.g., "Get Happy" does the trick. B+(**) [cd]

William Basinski: A Shadow in Time (2017, Temporary Residence): Avant-garde composer, works in electronics, has a couple dozen albums since 1998 and has developed a crossover following -- probably a subject for further research (I've only heard one previous album). Two pieces, 20:19 and 22:59, rather dense and a bit ponderous. B

Beans on Toast: Rolling Up the Hill (2015, Xtra Mile): English singer-songwriter Jay McAllister, a folkie more in the American mold of low budget songsters pursuing their political calling -- which in his case includes traveling and singing and drinking. One song calls for the return of Robin Hood ("we need to take what's rightfully ours"), but more typical is his commune where "a lot of nice people being nice to each other/a lot of fun people having fun with each other/a lot of good people being good to each other." A-

Beans on Toast: A Spanner in the Works (2016, Xtra Mile): He's released a record like clockwork every December 1 since 2009, which seems a bit too regular for something involving creativity. Indeed, he comes up somewhat short this time, the melodies suffering more than the outrage, since lord knows 2016 didn't lack for things to take offense at. B+(**)

Bentcousin: Bentcousin (2016, Team Love): Brighton [UK] band, twins Amelia and Pat Innit, "magically born a decade apart" (means in different decades, as their birth straddled the midnight between 1989 and 1990). Both sing, her backing heling him out. Light, folksy pop, even on "F*ck the Queen." B+(**)

Dierks Bentley: Black (2016, Capitol Nashville): Nashville star, ninth album, first two major label releases went platinum, four more gold, this his poorest selling album still briefly topped the country charts (his sixth album to do so). Going through the motions, co-wrote some of the songs, got the usual Nashville production, gave Maren Morris and Trombone Shorty guest shots. B

Gianni Bianchini: Type I (2016 [2017], self-released): Pianist-singer, web bio not very forthcoming but this was recorded in Austin, TX, where he's been known to teach (also in Quito, Ecuador). He plays three fast ones, then slows down and sings a ballad, then goes back and forth, the piano vibrant, the vocals (including one by Karen Tennison) not half bad. B+(**)

Joe Bourne: Upbeat and Sweet (2016 [2017], Summit): Fairly nondescript singer, skips the usual standards in favor of a batch of mostly '60s-'70s pop hits, selected with an unerring knack for things I never wanted to hear again, least of all sung by him -- e.g., "Magic Carpet Ride," "Heartache Tonight," "Just Like a Woman," "You've Got a Friend," "Don't Stop," "Wonderful Tonight." C [cd]

Chris Byars: Two Fives (2014 [2015], SteepleChase): Saxophonist, plays alto here but first distinguished himself on tenor, always a bebop purist, has done several tribute albums of late, this one starts with five originals, then five covers ("Danny Boy" the odd and weakest choice). Sextet: Stefano Doglioni (bass clarinet), John Mosca (trombone), Pasquale Grasso (guitar), Ari Roland (bass), Stefan Schatz (drums). Slippery and elegant. B+(**)

Chris Byars: The Music of Frank Strozier (2015 [2017], SteepleChase): Tribute to another alto saxophonist, b. 1937, still alive, cut a few albums 1960-62, and two more 1976-77 for Danish label SteepleChase. Septet, adding James Byars' oboe to the sextet above. All Strozier tunes, arranged by Byars, who like Strozier plays some flute. B+(**)

Laura Cannell: Simultaneous Flight Movement (2016, Brawl): British violinist, seven or eight records, one in 1997, the rest since 2012. This is solo, some recorder, not much jazz feel so somewhere between abstract folk and avant-classical? B+(*)

Loyle Carner: Yesterday's Gone (2017, AMF): British rapper, father "of Guyanese descent," first record, nothing exciting, although the title tune is catchy and I could imagine it done skiffle. B

The CCM Jazz Orchestra as James Bond: Nobody Does It Better (2013 [2017], Summit): CCM stands for College Conservatory of Music, part of the University of Cincinnati. They have a previous album called In Search of Garaj Mahal, where they cover music from the world fusion jam band. Seemed like a pretty bogus idea, but then I saw Steven Bernstein got a "featuring" credit (also credit for six of eight arrangements. The result isn't exactly Sex Mob Does Bond (a real title, from 2001): it's grander and grosser than that, with all the baggage a true big band can throw at music that deserves such treatment, if it deserves any at all. B+(**) [cd]

Chook Race: Around the House (2016, Trouble in Mind): Australian band, a dash of jangle pop in the alt-rock universe. B+(*)

City Yelps: Half Hour (2016, Odd Box): Garage punk trio from Leeds. Don't understand a word, but can't complain about the energy. B+(*)

Kweku Collins: Nat Love (Closed Sessions): Young (age 19) rapper from Evanston, Illinois, first album after an EP, goes for a dense rhythmic roll rather than a lot of words. B+(*)

CP Unit: Before the Heat Death (2016 [2017]. Clean Feed): Quartet: Chris Pitsiokos (alto sax), Brandon Seabrook (electric guitar), Tim Dahl (electric bass), Weasel Walter (drums). Basically post-rock, post-industrial fusion, less harsh than some of Seabrook's own albums, better beat too, and the sax sharpens the leads. Short at 29:01, but makes up for that in intensity. B+(***) [cd]

Allison Crutchfield: Tourist in This Town (2017, Merge): Singer-songwriter, solo debut after fronting Swearin' and earlier co-founding P.S. Eliot (with sister Katie, who went on to Waxahatchee). B+(**)

Tim Daisy: October Music Vol. 2: 7 Compositions for Duet (2016, Relay): Chicago avant drummer, composed seven pieces, each played with a different duet partner: Andrew Clinkman (guitar), Mars Williams (soprano sax), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello/electronics), Ryan Packard (drums), Russ Johnson (trumpet), Aaron Zarzutzki (synthesizer), and Clark Sommers (bass). Gets something distinctive out of each. While the first three can be scratchy, the finale (where Daisy plays marimba and turntable) is almost pretty. B+(**) [bc]

Carla dal Forno: You Know What It's Like (2016, Blackest Ever Black): Singer-songwriter, from Australia, based in Berlin, mostly electronics. "The vocal-led pieces are interspersed with richly evocative instrumentals, like Eno's Another Green World reimagined in shades of brown and blue." In other words, much less appetizing, but not without interest. And short: eight cuts, 29:18. B+(*)

Death Grips: Bottomless Pit (2016, Third Worlds/Harvest): Thrash noise band that passes for hip-hop because they rap, probably because they'd have trouble keeping up singing. Over a handful of albums since 2011, they've moved from interesting to annoying to possesing a unique and vigorous sound, one I'm getting acclimated to. B+(*)

Jon De Lucia Group: As the River Sings (2014 [2017], Fresh Sound New Talent): New York-based saxophonist, originally from Massachusetts, plays alto sax, alto clarinet, clarinet, flute, and ruri box here, leading a quartet with electric guitar (Greg Ruggiero), acoustic bass (Chris Tordini), and drums (Tommy Crane). Nice tone and flow. B+(***) [cdr]

Olegario Diaz: Aleph in Chromatic (2015 [2016], SteepleChase): Pianist from Velezuela, studied in America, discography dates from 1992, last four albums on this Danish mainstream label. Mostly originals, formally postbop but with an extra percussionist (Nené Quintero), Alex Sipiagin flashy on trumpet, Bobby Franceschini versatile on tenor sax and flute. B+(**)

Élage Diouf: Melokáane (2015, Pump Up the World): From Senegal, born El Hadji Fall Diouf, toured as half of the Diouf Brothers before settling in Montreal and going solo. The fast ones remind me of N'Dour or Ade, and while he's certainly not in their league, he can sweep you away. A-

DJ Diamond: Footwork or Die (2016, |Duck N' Cover): Chicago DJ Karlis Griffin, third or fourth album. Maybe I'm confused but doesn't the concept behind footwork have something to do with moving one's feet? Lines repeat, squiggles intervene, beats pretty static. B-

Dvsn: Sept. 5th (2016, OVO Sound/Warner Brothers): Canadian r&b duo, singer Daniel Dayley and producer Anthony Paul Jefferies (dba Nineteen85). B+(*)

Mark Ernestus' Ndagga Rhythm Force: Yermande (2016, Ndagga): German DJ, owns a record store in Berlin that specializes in dub imports, released a couple previous albums with Senegalese drum collective Jeri-Jeri, this group growing out of that one. Not such an obvious "rhythm force," the drums mixed way down along with Mbene Diatta Seck's vocals -- yet somehow they draw you in. B+(**)

Bill Evans/Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: Beauty & the Beast (2011 [2016], Spartacus): Tommy Smith's main project for nearly a decade, although he takes a back seat here to the guest, who in turn leads on soprano rather than his usual tenor sax. Evans gained some recognition in the 1980s playing with Miles Davis, and has released twenty-some albums since, but I can't say as I've noticed him much. The piece itself was written by Smith, big band flourishes arrayed into a suite of seven parts. B+(**)

Factory Floor: 25 25 (2016, DFA): British duo, Gabriel Gurnsey (drum machines) and Nik Colk (guitar, electronics, machine-like vocals), aim at "post-industrial" -- I guess that means mechanics toned down to pastoral levels. Not much range but resonates with me. A-

Fantastic Negrito: The Last Days of Oakland (2016, Blackball Universe): Xavier Dphrepaulezz, father a Somali-Caribbean immigrant in Massachusetts, family moved to Oakland when he was 12. After an apprenticeship in drug dealing and robbery, he tried making his way as a musician, to much frustration until he won a prize at NPR for a video and wound up cutting this album of blues-funk -- probably best the straighter the blues, or the more they evoke Led Zeppelin. B+(***)

Nick Finzer: Hear & Now (2016 [2017], Outside In Music): Trombonist, at least one previous record, this a postbop sextet with Lucas Pino on tenor sax and bass clarinet, both guitar and piano, plus bass and drums. Bright and lively. B+(*) [cd]

The Flat Five: It's a World of Love and Hate (2016, Bloodshot): Billed as "a Chicago-based vocal super-group," the only name I recognize there is Kelly Hogan but maybe you'll have better luck: Nora O'Connor, Scott Ligon, Casey McDonough, Alex Hall. Very lightweight, sweet even. B-

Daniel Freedman: Imagine That (2016, Anzic): Drummer, New York native, first album, hornless quintet, the focus on worldly rhythm with Lionel Loueke (guitar), Jason Lindner (keyboards), Omer Avital (bass/oud), and Gitmar Gomes (percussion) -- perhaps the best showing I've heard from Loueke (although his vocals aren't exactly a plus). B+(***)

Satoko Fujii: Invisible Hand (2016 [2017], Cortez Sound, 2CD): One of the most prolific jazz pianists of the past two decades, lately it seems her piano has receded into her explosive big bands and odder avant-folk projects (where, among other things, she's distinguished herself on accordion). But this solo set -- two discs but only 87:33 -- is less a return to basics than a maturing reflection on her craft: where she used to get our attention with pyrotechnics, here she favors richly detailed melodies, and that works as well. A- [cd]

Joana Gama/Luís Fernandes/Richardo Jacinto: Harmonies (2016 [2017], Shhpuma): Portuguese pianist, unconventional trio with Jacinto on cello and both electronics. The music is "inspired" by Erik Satie, performed on his 150th anniversary, which may be reflected in its tight miniaturism, although its post-industrial aura is something else. B+(***) [cd]

Jean-Brice Godet: Lignes De Crêtes (2016 [2017], Clean Feed): Clarinet player, also credited with "radio, dictaphones," leads trio with Pascal Niggenkemper (double bass, objects) and Sylvain Darrifourcq (drums, percussion, zither). Four pieces: "No Border," "No Logo," "No God," "No Fear" -- a remarkable melange of sounds, though it takes some focus to catch them all. B+(***) [cd]

Frank Gratkowski/Alexey Kruglov/Simon Nabatov/Oleg Yudanov: Leo Records 35th Anniversary Moscow (2014 [2015], Leo): Russian emigré Leo Feigin established his avant-jazz label in London in 1979, and from the start had an inside track on the very underground jazz scene in Soviet Russia, most notably introducing the west the Ganelin Trio to the west. Three Russians in this quartet, two alto saxophonists, piano, and drums. Rough and rather angry, most emphatically the pianist. B+(*)

Josh Green & the Cyborg Orchestra: Telepathy & Bop (2016 [2017], self-released): A little short of a big band in the brass section (two each trumpet and trombone), five reeds less brassy too (two saxes, but bass clarinet instead of baritone; also flute and oboe, plus most double on clarinet), but the rhythm section adds accordion to guitar-piano-bass-drums, plus there's a string section. This gives the composer-arranger lots of options, and if you bother to listen closely enough you'll find lots of clever little details. B+(*) [cd]

Rich Halley/Carson Halley: The Wild (2015 [2017], Pine Eagle): Tenor saxophonist from Oregon, got my attention with his 2004 album Mountains and Plains and hasn't let up since. Duets with his drummer son bring his fierce creativity to the fore. A bit of otherworldly wood flute too. A- [cd]

The Hamilton Mixtape (2016, Atlantic): I limited my exposure to the Original Broadway Cast Recording, so never got caught up in Lin-Manuel Miranda's peculiar world. Indeed, I've long viewed Alexander Hamilton as a martinet who aspired to be Napoleon or at least one of his most trusted generals, so I have trouble picturing him as an abolitionist and champion of immigrants. Still, given that we now finally have a president as corrupt and vain as the villain of this play, Aaron Burr, I see some value in turning the tables. I should also note that freed from having to carry a narrative, Mixtape makes a fair case for some of the songs outlasting their context. B+(***)

Jesca Hoop: Memories Are Now (2017, Sub Pop): Singer-songwriter from California, seventh album since 2007, a name I've run across before but hadn't checked out. Reality-based (i.e., folk-ish), just not sure how well this reads as literature, but it impresses me musically, some pop hooks and rhythmic tricks, bits that sound like everyone from the Roches to Kate Bush and like no one else at all. A-

The Hotelier: Goodness (2016, Tiny Engines): Indie rock trio (guitar-bass-drums) from Worcester, MA. Third album, a little heavy on the drums and anguished in Christian Holden's vocals, but if you don't listen closely they sound a fair amount like Hold Steady. Cover art obscured by Napster, but no idea whether that's because nudity offends them, or it's just that the people naked aren't especially attractive. B+(*)

Injury Reserve: Live From the Dentist Office (2015, Las Fuegas): Hip-hop group from Tempe, Arizona, two rappers (Steppa J. Groggs and Ritchie With a T) and producer Parker Corey. First album. A bit scattered, although the most obvious titles ("Yo," "Wow") deliver the beats. B+(**) [sc]

Injury Reserve: Floss (2016, Las Fuegas): Arizona hip-hop trio, lead song is "Oh Shit!!!" and it makes for a pretty infectious sing-along. B+(***)

Kayo Dot: Plastic House on Base of Sky (2016, The Flenser): Experimental rock group from Boston, released their first album in 2003 on Tzadik and are up to ten now. This one topped one 2016 EOY list and was ignored by all the rest. Some kind of prog or psychedelia, time often uncertain, gloom and doom more common. B

Amirtha Kidambi/Elder Ones: Holy Science (2016, Northern Spy): Bandcamp page attributes this to the group, but the singer-songwriter's name appears first on the cover, in smaller print probably because it is longer. She has sung on several avant projects -- The Sound of Animals Fighting, Seven Teares, Darius Jones' The Oversoul Manual, Robert Ashley's Crash. Also plays harmonium here, with Matt Nelson (soprano sax), Brandon Lopez (bass), and Max Jaffe (drums). I know it takes considerable virtuosity to sing to such abstract music, and with that virtuosity comes operatic tics I can't stand, but it's semi-remarkable anyway. B+(*)

Dave King Trucking Company: Surrounded by the Night (2016, Sunnyside): Bad Plus/Happy Apple drummer, third album for this group: Eric Fratzke (guitar), Chris Morrissey (bass), Chris Speed (tenor sax/clarinet), Brandon Wozniak (tenor sax). Mostly postbop, but last cut rocks out. B+(**)

Kirk Knuffke/Jesse Stacken: Satie (2015 [2016], SteepleChase): Erik Satie is one of the few classical composers I've been able to listen to without wretching, partly, I'm sure, because I've never heard anything long or complicated -- mostly short piano miniatures. I suspect these cornet-piano duets take liberties, especially as I look at the timings. B

Kool A.D.: Official (2016, self-released, EP): Rapper Victor Vazquez, ex-Das Racist, releases albums in bunches -- I see ten releses for 2016, but this is the only one I've seen noticed elsewhere. Upbeat, cheerful, I guess they call that hyphy. Seven cuts, 26:20. B+(**) [bc]

Michel Lambert: Alom Mola (2016 [2017], Jazz From Rant): Canadian drummer, most often seen accompanying François Carrier, has a handful of records on his own. This one veers toward classical with its string quartet, but adds percussive roughness, lovely bits of piano (Alexandre Grogg) or sax (Michel Côté), and an intriguing vocal by Jeannette Lambert. B+(***) [cd]

Jihye Lee Orchestra: April (2016 [2017], self-released): Korean composer, studied at Berklee and is based in Boston, composed this to commemorate the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster. She leads a 28-piece orchestra made up of Berklee faculty -- can't read the fine print, but Sean Jones is featured (flugelhorn), and Lee is credited with voice (although I can't say as I noticed). Hype sheet describes this as "lavish, heart-wrenching inspiration" -- not my idea of a recommendation. B- [cd]

Okkyung Lee & Christian Marclay: Amalgam (2014 [2016], Northern Spy): Cello and turntables, one long (36:20) cut, the electronics even squeakier than the cello. B

Jens Lekman: Life Will See You Now (2016, Secretly Canadian): Swedish singer-songwriter, fourth album, has developed into quite the melodist -- reminds me of Paul Simon, both in his skill level and how derivative it all seems, although he could still pick up some rhythmic tricks. He doesn't annoy me like Simon -- seems like a nice, fairly well adjusted guy -- but I also find him easier to be indifferent about. B+(***)

Daniel Levin Quartet: Live at Firehouse 12 (2016 [2017], Clean Feed): Cellist, lines up a neat little chamber jazz quartet here with viola (Mat Maneri), bass (Torbjörn Zetterberg), with no drums but a splash of vibes (Matt Moran). B+(**) [cd]

James Brandon Lewis Trio: No Filter (2016, BNS Sessions): Tenor saxophonist, has a couple impressive albums on a major label, goes low rent here, just bass (Luke Stewart) and drums (Warren Trae Crudup III) to highlight his leads. But then he adds a little rap and scat, the former showing promise, the latter squandering it. B+(**)

Brian Lynch: Madera Latino (2012 [2016], Hollistic MusicWorks, 2CD): Subtitled "A Latin Jazz Interpretation on the Music of Woody Shaw." Trumpet player, has a strong Latin Jazz résumé, draws the support of eight additional trumpet players for this project -- scattered about, but (for example) the opener features Dave Douglas, Etienne Charles, and Diego Urcola. The band consists of the Curtis brothers, Zaccai (piano) and Luques (bass), plus a tag team of up to four percussionists (Pedrito Martinez, Little Johnny Rivero, and Anthony Carrilo on that first cut, but Obed Calvaire plays drums on most of the rest). The rhythm rarely reaches a rolling boil, but this is really a feast for trumpet(s). B+(***)

Martha: Blisters in the Pit of My Heart (2016, Dirtnap): Indie power pop band from County Durham in the north of England, Housemartins territory, self-described as "queer, vegan, and anarchist." Second album, not sure the politics are sharp and clear enough (certainly not up to Housemartins standards), but as group rock goes probably the best I've heard since Parquet Courts. A-

Mark Masters Ensemble: Blue Skylight (2015-16 [2017], Capri): Arranger, runs a non-profit called American Jazz Institute, has recorded close to a dozen albums built on various songbooks from Duke Ellington to Steely Dan. Here he turns his attention to Charles Mingus and Gerry Mulligan with a skeletal 7- or 9-piece big band (four saxes both ways, plus trumpet and trombone on 5/11 cuts. B+(**) [cd]

Chelsea McBride's Socialist Night School: The Twilight Fall (2016 [2017], Browntasaurus): Young (age 24) Toronto composer-conductor-tenor saxophonist, runs a 19-piece big band prominently featuring singer Alex Samaras. Impressed by the music, including a bit built around electric guitar/keyb/bass. Much less so the singer/songs. B+(*) [cd]

Leyla McCalla: A Day for the Hunter, a Day for the Prey (2016, Jazz Village): Folksinging cellist, born in New York, parents Haitian, former member of Carolina Chocolate Drops, second album, some songs in French or Haitian Creole. B+(**)

Cass McCombs: Mangy Love (2016, Anti-): Singer-songwriter from California, ninth album since 2003. Good natured, competent, not especially interesting. B

Merso: Red World (2016, Good to Die): Seattle "dusky post rock quartet," Tristan Sennholz plays guitar and sings. Cover looks prog, and they run the title cut on for 20:49, but it holds up fine. Should also note The Bernie Sanders 2016 EP, actually a two-cut single they released during the primary season. B+(**)

Billy Mintz: Ugly Beautiful (2015 [2017], Thirteenth Note, 2CD): Drummer, started out on avant albums with Vinny Golia, this is more mainstream, a sprawling project which shows many facets. Two tenor saxes (John Gross and Tony Malaby), Roberta Piket on piano and Hilliard Greene on bass, plus guest alto sax on one track. B+(**) [cd]

Moksha: The Beauty of an Arbitrary Moment (2016, Jazzland): Norway-based trio -- Oddrun Lilja Jonsdottir (guitar) does most of the writing, with percussionists Sanskriti Shrestha (tabla, bulbul tarang, voice) and Tore Flatjord (darbuka, djembe, shaker, dhol) -- debut album. Mostly Indian rhythms, the guitar works similar to a sitar. B+(*)

Donny Most: Mostly Swinging (2016 [2017], Summit): Small-time actor, had a cast role on Happy Days, has lately retooled himself into a Sinatra-esque saloon singer -- actually, his "My Darling Clementine" reminds me more of Bobby Darin, but I'm admitting he's credible, the band is big and brassy (Wayne Bergeron leads the trumpets, although they packed in a string section for good measure). B+(**) [cd]

Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Loafer's Hollow (2016 [2017], Hot Cup): Since Peter Evans left bassist Moppa Elliott's "bebop terrorist" quintet, their mischief has gravitating toward pre-bop (one hesitates to call it trad) jazz. And they've been picking up extra members: Ron Stabinsky at piano, Dave Taylor on bass trombone, Brandon Seabrook on banjo and electronics, and most notably Steven Bernstein on trumpet (with or without slide). A- [cd]

The MUH Trio [Roberto Magris/Frantisek Uhlir/Jaromir Helesic]: Prague After Dark (2016 [2017], JMood): Piano trio, bassist and drummer presumably picked up in Prague, although Uhlir came with two songs. Mostly Magris originals, but covers from Herbie Nichols and Don Pullen are telling, and add to a fine outing. B+(***) [cdr]

Tisziji Muñoz: Tathagata Guitar: Whisperings of Peace (2016, Anami Music): American guitarist, b. 1946 in Brooklyn, based in Schenectady, has many dozens of albums since 1978, could be a major SFFR. This one showed up in a EOY list, and I can't find any info or credits (although it seems to be stocked by dozens of retailers. With bass and drums, I think: three long pieces with ripping leads; still interesting in the middle piece when he lets up. B+(***)

Tisziji Muñoz: Heart Ground (2016, Anami Music): Another of the seven albums the guitarist released in 2016, this one adding John Medeski (on piano) to his rhythm section. While Medeski is fast and florid, that doesn't seem to help the guitar. B+(*)

Doug Munro and La Pompe Attack: The Harry Warren Songbook (2016 [2017], GotMusic): Guitarist, did a previous album called A Very Gypsy Christmas which suggests he's a Django Reinhardt acolyte. Group revolves through four sessions, including bass, sometimes violin, plus up to two more guitarists at any given time (four are credited, Howard Alden is the one you probably know). Picks through more than a dozen great songs, starting with "Lullaby of Birdland." B+(***) [cd]

Brad Myers & Michael Sharfe: Sanguinaria (Hopefulsongs) (2016 [2017], Colloquy): Guitar and bass, respectively, several variants each, percussion too. Mostly duo, but song songs have guests on drums and/or percussion. Intricate, pleasant, hopeful. B+(*) [cd]

Qasim Naqvi: Chronology (2016, New Amsterdam): Pakistani, based in Brooklyn where he plays drums in the avant-jazz piano trio Dawn of Midi, tries his hand at electronic music. Six cuts, no times given, strikes me as short. Uneventful too. B

Old 97's: Graveyard Whistling (2017, ATO): Rhett Miller's guitar band when he's not doing something solo, dating back to 1994, this album almost light and frothy, at least once you get past the Jesus/God songs and into "Irish Whiskey Pretty Girls." B+(***)

Oui' 3: Occupy Your Mind (2016 [2017], ITI): Quasi-fusion trio -- Billy Joe Wiseman (sitar, guitars, synth guitars), Lou Castro (fretted & fretless basses), Jim Xavier (drums) -- everyone sings some. Long suit is groove, making this listenable but not very interesting. B [cd]

Keith Oxman: East of the Village (2016 [2017], Capri): Tenor saxophonist, leads a trio with Jeff Jenkins on organ and Todd Reid on drums. Basically a soul jazz move, mostly bright and upbeat. B+(**) [cd]

Jason Palmer: Beauty 'N' Numbers: The Sudoku Suite (2015 [2016], SteepleChase): Trumpet player, leads a quartet with guitar (Mike Moreno), bass, and drums through 16 named sections, adding up to 75:76. Nice trumpet, nicely set up. B+(**)

Hannah Peel: Awake but Always Dreaming (2016, My Own Pleasure): Singer-songwriter from Northern Ireland, second album, electropop but rather glum. B

Florian Pellissier Quintet: Cap De Bonne Esperance (2016, Heavenly Sweetness): French pianist, discography goes back to 2006, fourth Quintet album, a standard alignment with trumpet, sax, bass, and drums. Fast ones boppish, slow ones seductive, throws in an uncredited vocal at the end ("What a Difference a Day Makes" -- a nice touch. B+(**)

Luis Perdomo: Spirits and Warriors (2016, Criss Cross): Venezuelan pianist, well established in Latin jazz but this is a pretty straightforward hard bop lineup: Alex Sipiagin (trumpet/flugelhorn), Mark Shim (tenor sax/EWI), Ugonna Okegwo (bass), Billy Hart (drums). Title piece is an original six-part suite, followed by covers of Clifford Jordan and Hermeto Pascoal. B+(**)

Awa Poulo: Poulo Warali (2016 [2017], Awesome Tapes From Africa): From southwestern Mali, Fulani, a language/people which spans a stretch of the sub-Saharan Sahel from Guinea to Nigeria. B+(**)

Noah Preminger: Meditations on Freedom (2016 [2017], self-released): Tenor saxophonist, has made a strong impression since his 2008 debut, leads a two-horn quartet here with Jason Palmer getting a lot of lead space on trumpet. Covers from Dylan, Sam Cooke, George Harrison and Bruce Hornsby, along with originals with titles like "We Have a Dream," "Women's March," "The 99 Percent," "Broken Treaties." B+(***) [cd]

Primal Scream: Chaosmosis (2016, First International/Ignition): Scottish band, founded in 1982. I've never heard their early albums, which I guess were something else, but from 1997's Vanishing Point on they've been an electropop band, indeed one that sounds like it came out of the 1980s, not as much fun as the Pet Shop Boys but a good deal deeper than Duran Duran. B+(**)

Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno: 1000 Watts (2016, Tru Thoughts): Will Holland, DJ born in England, based in New York after several years in Colombia, has twenty albums under various aliases, this the third as Flowering Inferno, some sort of reggae/dub concept, slightly removed. Mostly instrumentals, pretty enjoyable; occasional vocals, like the title song, work too. B+(**)

Renegades of Jazz: Moyo Wangu (2016, Agogo): Led by David Hanke, German, spent childhood years in Tanzania. Starts closer to Africa, but in the end turns into little more than a good groove. B+(***)

The Reunion Project: Veranda (2016 [2017], Tapestry): Names listed on the front cover: Tiago Costa (piano), Edu Ribeiro (drums), Bruno Migotto (bass), Chico Pinheiro (guitar), Felipes Salles (tenor and soprano sax, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet), all Brazilians (though at least the best known ones, Pinheiro and Salles, have Boston connections). All contribute songs (as does Jerome Kern). Relaxed, sinuous beat with slinky guitar and tasteful sax. B+(**) [cd]

Stephen Riley & Peter Zak: Haunted Heart (2014 [2015], SteepleChase): Tenor saxophonist, mainstream, has recorded on SteepleChase since 2005, paired here with the pianist for bare bones duets. Riley blows softly, almost a whisper, containing the intimacy, which the piano complements nicely. B+(**)

Stephen Riley/Peter Zak: Deuce (2014 [2017], SteepleChase): More tenor sax/piano duets, recorded the same time as their previous Haunted Heart, this time working a few originals (three Riley, one Zak) into the standards mix. Riley may be the softest tenor I've ever heard, but the understated approach works, especially warming up a standard like "Without a Song." B+(***)

Carrie Rodriguez: Lola (2016, Luz): Singer-songwriter, born in Texas (as was her father, folksinger David Rodriguez), cut some records with Chip Taylor then moved on to a solo career. Mexican roots, of course, which she indulges in more than usual this time. B+(*)

Roosevelt: Roosevelt (2016, City Slang): Marius Lauber, German electropop singer-songwriter, constructs wry songs with lush synths. B+(*)

The Sadies: Northern Passages (2017, Yep Roc): Country-ish band from Toronto, been around since the mid-1990s. Memorable song title: "God Bless the Infidels." Forgettable guest star: Kurt Vile. B+(*)

Sampha: Process (2017, Young Turks): Sampha Sisay, born in London, original singer in SBTRKT, first album after two EPs. Somewhere between trip hop and nu soul, evidently very fashionable -- album has an 86 score at Metacritic -- although most of it slips right past me. B+(*)

Sao Paulo Underground: Cantos Invisiveis (2016, Cuneiform): Sister city group, shares Rob Mazurek (cornet, keyboards, percussion) with Chicago Underground, the locals being Mauricio Takara (mostly drums), Guilherme Granado (mostly keyboards), and Thomas Rohrer (rabeca, flutes, soprano sax, electronics, percussion). Dense, complex, intensely rhythmic, closer to hip-hop than to MPB but even that's a stretch. B+(**) [dl]

Scarcity of Tanks: Ringleader Lies (2016, Total Life Society): Cleveland postpunk group, 7th album since 2008, actually a rather massive effort with 22 songs (5 topping 4 minutes, the longest an unpunkish 5:56) and (even more unpunklike) 17 musicians on the credits list (mostly guitar-bass-drums, a couple keyboards, a bit of violin, some percussion -- recognizable names include Nels Cline, Lee Ranaldo, and Mike Watt). Still sounds punkish. B+(**)

Luke Sellick: Alchemist (2016 [2017], Cellar Live): Bassist, from "the rich and eclectic musical climate of Winnipeg, Canada," after a spell at Juilliard currently based in "Harlem, NYC." Relaxed, friendly postbop, with Andrew Renfroe on guitar, either of two drummers, and a rotating horde of horn players (tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene probably the best known). B+(**) [cd]

Skee Mask: Shred (2016, Ilian Tape): DJ/producer from Munich, Germany, has managed thus far to keep his name private. First album after a couple singles, basically just sketchy rhythm tracks, slight variances in gloss. Still works fine. B+(**)

Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra: Effervescence (2016 [2017], Spartacus): Big band, a project of the Scottish tenor saxophonist, playing repertoire from Woody Herman and Dizzy Gillespie to Chick Corea, a very "youth jazz" thing to do. Smith isn't listed among the saxophonists, but as director and producer. B+(**)

Snakehips: All My Friends EP (2016, Sony Music, EP): British electronica duo, Oliver Lee and James Carter, second EP (four cuts, 13:34), shows off some impressive friends: Tinashe, Chance the Rapper, Anderson .Paak, Malika, Tory Lanez. Songs have some depth and resonance, too. B+(***)

Snakehips: Forever (Pt. II) EP (2015, Sony Music, EP): First EP, also four cuts, 14:37, makes a case for their electronic swish and song craft but the featured vocalists are less than famous: Kaleem Taylor, SYD, Sasha Keable, Daniella T.A.O.L. B+(*)

Sneaks: Gymnastics (2016, Merge, EP): DC group, singer Eva Moolchan, bass and drum machine, minimalist postpunk without anger or frenzy or even much flash, compressing ten songs into a rather satisfying 13:45. B+(*)

Dele Sosimi Meets Prince Fatty & Nostalgia 77: You No Fit Touch Am in Dub (2016, Wah Wah 45s): Afrobeat keyboardist, born in London, parents Nigerian, played with Fela (1979-86) and his successors, his 2015 album forming the base for this live dub remix. B+(**)

Dele Sosimi: You No Fit Touch Am (2015, Wah Wah 45s): The previous year's album: hold the dub echo, bring the guitar and horns forward, you're squarely in Afrobeat territory, even if the songs only run 6:10-9:04. Tuneful, political, learned a lot working with the Kuti clan. B+(***)

Hiromi Suda: Nagi (2015 [2017], BluJazz): Japanese singer, based in New York, third album, wrote six (of thirteen) songs, the rest Brazilian including two Jobims and one Veloso. The latter dominate the album, no small thanks to guitarist Romero Lubambo, with Anne Drummond (flute), Julian Shore (piano), bass and drums helping out. B+(*) [cd]

Thee Oh Sees: A Weird Exits (2016, Castle Face): Rock band from San Francisco, dates back to 1997 although their early albums were released as OCS (which seems to have had several meanings). They have a dozen albums since 2008, counting a sub-30-minute follow-up to this called An Odd Entrances. With its long instrumental jams and occasional whiffs of the SF bands who invented the genre, this probably qualifies as psychedelia. Easy to hear why they have a following, not that I'm so inclined. B+(*) [yt]

Throttle Elevator Music: IV (2014-16 [2016], Wide Hive): LA-based quintet, fourth album, can bounce between deep funk and avant noise, and are probably best when they do both. Bassist Matt Montgomery writes the songs, guitarist Gregory Howe produces, both occasionally play keyboards, but most notable are the horns: Erik Jekabson (trumpet, flugelhorn) and superstar Kamasi Washington (sax). B+(**)

Throttle Elevator Music: Retrorespective (2016 [2017], Wide Hive): Expecting a compilation -- not a bad idea given saxophonist Kamasi Washington's recent breakout stardom -- but the cover actually notes "New Songs From" and re-reading the title uncovered a twist. Group gets a new drummer (Thomas McCree) and adds guitarist Ava Mendoza, but more importantly they open up the throttle on the horns. B+(***)

Tinariwen: Elwan (2016, Anti-): From northeast Mali, which is to say the vast Saharan heartland, though they've long since moved on, finding a convivial desert studio in California near Joshua Tree National Park, convenient for various semi-famous musicians (only one I recognize is Kurt Vile) to drop in and dissolve into what's more than ever trance music. Hard to differentiate among their eight albums, but this one lacks the frenzy I recall, yet doesn't suffer for that. A-

Trouble Kaze: June (2016 [2017], Circum-Disc): Kaze was a Satoko Fujii project, with Natsuki Tamura (trumpet), Christian Pruvost (trumpet), and Peter Orrins (drums), with three albums together. This group doubles up on piano (Sophie Agnel) and drums (Didier Lasserre) as well as trumpet, and sounds like someone is mixing some electronics in. Joint credits, five untitled parts. I find the long sub-audible stretches annoying, but the noise (when it appears) isn't without merit. B+(*) [cd]

Yves Tumor: Serpent Music (2016, Pan): Sean Bowie, raised in Tennessee, based in Turin, Italy, second album, electronica that undulates suggestively, unable to get up and dance. B+(*)

Baron Tymas: Montréal (2015 [2017], Tymasmusic): Guitarist, third album, grooveful, Joshua Rager's piano adds to the lushness, guest vocal doesn't help, guest trumpet does. B+(*)

Ryley Walker: Golden Sings That Have Been Sung (2016, Dead Oceans): Singer-songwriter from Rockford, IL -- I keep forgetting that because he regularly scores much higher on British EOY lists. But then I also file him under folk, probably because of his first label (Tompkins Square) and that's clearly wrong, even if his songcraft is rooted in realism. Album ends with a 41:01 live version of "Sullen Mind" which sounds closer to jazz (excluding the rare vocals but with a noise crackup). Probably best to treat the latter as a free bonus (it fills up sides 3 & 4 of the LP). B+(*)

David Weiss & Point of Departure: Wake Up Call (2015 [2017], Ropeadope): Trumpet player, a postbop figure the New Jazz Composers Octet but a hard bopper with the Cookers, fourth album with Point of Departure although the band has no constants other than the leader, and the tenor sax (Myron Walden or JD Allen) and one of the guitar slots (Travis Reuter or Nir Felder) are split here -- Ben Eunson evidently plays throughout, and his blistering solo on the opener sets the pace, which remains torrid throughout. In fact, front cover is illustrated with guitar and trumpet, so that seems to be the concept. A- [cd]

The XX: I See You (2017, Young Turks): Most sources lowercase xx, although typographically the albums always looked to use multiplication signs if you want to get pedantic about it. Looks close enough to uppercase for me. Tough for me to judge: the hooks slip in with barely a notice, aside from one song ("On Hold") which will wind up among the year's most surefire hits. A-

Peter Zak: Standards (2014 [2016], SteepleChase): Pianist, from Ohio, based in New York, has about a dozen albums since 1989, this a trio with Jay Anderson (bass) and Billy Drummond (drums), playing ten standards. B+(*)

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

African Head Charge: Return of the Crocodile (1981-85 [2016], On-U Sound): Adrian Sherwood dub project, "unreleased tracks and version excursions" between their debut (My Life in a Hole in the Ground) and their best known (Off the Beaten Path). Mostly trivia, but "Low Protein Snack" is a choice cut. B+(**)

Bitori: Legend of Funana: The Forbidden Music of the Cape Verde Islands (1997 [2016], Analog Africa): Victor Tavares, who left Cabo Verde in the 1950s for Sao Tomé & Principe and returned in 1997 with an accordion, reviving a Cabo Verdean style that had been banned by the Portuguese colonial rulers. B+(***)

J Dilla: The Diary (2001-02 [2016], Mass Appeal/Pay Jay): James Yancey, died in 2006 at age 32 (thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura), better known as producer than rapper, although he raps on these tracks, meant to be his mainstream debut. Not sure how much was released at the time -- certainly the single "Fuck the Police," which comes with (but doesn't quite earn) a disclaimer. B+(*)

Doing it in Lagos: Boogie, Pop & Disco in 1980's Nigeria (1979-84 [2016], Soundway, 2CD): Uncertain about the years, but that's all the label talks about online. Deep dumpster diving, 21 artists and tracks I've never heard of, the fad of the moment being to mimic American pop, with Peter Abdul doing an amusing Michael Jackson. The disco is pretty mediocre, but this gets more interesting when they start tuning into P-Funk (e.g., Rik Asikpo's "Too Hot"). B

Anna Homler and Steve Moshier: Breadwoman & Other Tales (1985-93 [2016], RVNG Intl): Homler is a performance artist. She developed her Breadwoman character -- a face covered with a loaf of bread -- in 1982, and used it for her first album. Moshier is a composer, mostly working in Liquid Skin Ensemble. Hard to pin this down, a bit like Laurie Anderson only less witty, not to mention less catchy. B+(**)

Arthur Lipner: Two Hands One Heart: Best of Arthur Lipner (1990-2014 [2017], Malletworks Media, 2CD): Vibraphonist, also plays marimba, picks through nine albums here, divided into "acoustic" and "electric" discs. The former is predictably lighter, skimming on its groove, the latter similar with a few more twists. Makes for a couple hours of more than pleasant listening. B+(**) [cd]

Meridian Brothers V: El Advenimiento Del Castillo Mujer (2005 [2016], Discrepant): Vinyl reissue of the Colombian group's first album, recorded in Copenhagen by "core member" Eblis Alvarez, "abstract folk music" sounding remarkably disjointed -- recommended especially to fans of Tom Zé. A-

New York Noise: Dance Music From the New York Underground 1977-1982 (1977-82 [2016], Soul Jazz): Starts roughly where Brian Eno's No New York sessions left off -- Contortions and Mars included here, plus a later cut by DNA's Arto Lindsay -- and follows as "no wave" bands edge closer to a dance pulse, still keep it close and subtle -- no one here wants to be mistaken for disco. B+(**)

Joe Newman Sextet: The Happy Cats (1956 [2016], Fresh Sound): Trumpet player from New Orleans, played with Lionel Hampton, Illinois Jacquet, and for 13 years Count Basie with a couple dozen albums leading his own small groups (while not straying far: one of the best was called The Count's Men). With Frank Wess (tenor sax/flute), Frank Rehak (trombone), Johnny Acea (piano), Eddie Jones (bass), and Connie Kay (drums), plus some extra tracks. Easy swing, maybe too easy. B+(*)

Senegal 70: Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From the 70s (1970s [2015], Analog Africa): In 2009 Adamantios Kafetzis trekked to Senegal with a machine to digitize music which Moussa Diallo had recorded over four decades in Thiès, yielding "300 Senegalese songs that nobody had ever heard before." Five made the cut here, along with some less obscure period bands. Trivia, sure, but picks up over the second half. B+(**)

Sky Girl (1961-91 [2016], Efficient Space): Compiled by two French DJs, Julien Dechery and DJ Sundae, with fifteen songs I've never heard of, plays like a soundtrack to a relationship movie that isn't bad so much as achingly normal. B+(*)

Old Music

Anthony Braxton: Quintet (London) 2004: Live at the Royal Festival Hall (2004 [2005], Leo): Playing "Composition 343" (if you're counting), with Taylor Ho Bynum (trumpet), Mary Halvorson (guitar), Chris Dahlgren (bass), and Satoshi Takeishi (percussion). Took some extra volume to bring out the details, and most of what's interesting here is detail, as the piece doesn't exactly move. B+(**)

Anthony Braxton: Quartet (Moscow) 2008 (2008, Leo): Appears on Napster as Composition 367b, which is indeed the title of the main (70:04) piece, followed by a short (3:-1) "Encore." With Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet to valve trombone), Katherine Young (bassoon), and Mary Halvorson (electric guitar). Three horns skews the balance, especially as the guitar gets little solo space. The sort of abstraction that makes his compositions so difficult, with occasional flashes of the chops which can make them exciting. B+(**)

Avishai Cohen's Triveni: Dark Nights (2014, Anzic): Trumpet player from Israel, brother of Anat Cohen, not the bassist, probably has ten albums so far in various groups, this the third Triveni. Core group a trumpet trio with Omer Avital (bass) and Nasheet Waits (drums) although three tracks have guests: two each for Anat Cohen (clarinet) and Gerald Clayton (keyboards). Covers include "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," "Lush Life," and with a Keren Ann vocal, "I Fall in Love Too Easily." B+(**) [bc]

James Luther Dickinson: Dixie Fried (1972, Atlantic): Memphis blues-rocker, died in 2009, Christgau liked (a little) his late albums but never weighed in on his debut (and only album up to 1997), expanded to 16 cuts and reissued by Light in the Attic in 2016. But Napster only offers 9 tracks, the original album. He draws his vocal clues and boogie moves from Jerry Lee Lewis, and they work best when he escapes the background singers that clutter up the first part of the album. Not a lost classic, but potential . . . botched. B

James Luther Dickinson: Jungle Jim and the Voodoo Tiger (2006, Memphis International): He spent the intervening decades producing and compiling records, collecting songs and letting his voice go to pot, playing in bands like Mudboy and the Neutrons and Raisins in the Sun. He released a live one in 1997 and a studio one in 2002, and finally landed on a label built for him. B+(**)

James Luther Dickinson: Dinosaurs Run in Circles (2009, Memphis International): Last album (unless you count the one that came out in 2012, three years post-mortem, I'm Just Dead I'm Not Gone). First time I really noticed his piano playing, probably because he's never taken it this easy before -- more Moon Mullican than Jerry Lee, and I'm happier for that. B+(**)

Jens Lekman: When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog (2004, Secretly Canadian): First album, seems low-budget and straightforward, quietly observant, a bit sweet. He sings the title like he's never heard of the Stooges, but the sentiment isn't as far removed as the music. B+(*)

Brian Lynch Sextet: Peer Pressure (1986 [1987], Criss Cross): First album, age 30, shows how well developed his trumpet was, a bright spot in an impressive postbop lineup: Ralph Moore (tenor sax), Jim Snidero (alto sax), Kirk Lightsey (piano), Jay Anderson (bass), Victor Lewis (drums). I was going to say no hint of his Latin Jazz interest, but then he took Horace Silver's "The Outlaw" out for a spin and got hooked. B+(**)

Brian Lynch Quintet: Back Room Blues (1989 [1990], Criss Cross): Effectively a hard bop record, powered by a superb retro rhythm section (David Hazeltine, Peter Washington, Lewis Nash), with potent Javon Jackson on tenor sax, though there's no doubt the leader is the man with the trumpet. B+(**)

Brian Lynch: Spheres of Influence (1997, Sharp Nine): Still trying to mix it up, with pianist David Kikoski the only other one on all tracks: half go postbop with Donald Harrison (alto sax), Essiet Essie (bass), and Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums); the other half go Latin with John Benitez (bass), Adam Cruz (drums), and Milton Cardona (congas), two of those cuts with an extra five-piece brass section. High point is a Harrison solo. B+(*)

Brian Lynch Latin Jazz Sextet: ConClave (2004 [2005], Criss Cross): The trumpeter's first explicit Latin Jazz group, although by this time he had played on several Eddie Palmieri albums. Two Cubans -- Ernesto Simpson and Roberto Quintero -- keep the percussion bubbling, with Boris Kozlov (bass), Luis Perdomo (piano), and Ralph Bowen (tenor sax). B+(**)

Brian Lynch: Unsung Heroes Vol. 2 (2008-09 [2013], Hollistic MusicWorks): Eleven songs, two by Lynch, the others by other trumpet players: Donald Byrd, Joe Gordon, Howard McGhee, Idrees Sulieman, Tommy Turrentine. Classic bop quintet, Vincent Herring on alto sax, Rob Schneiderman on piano. B+(**)

Brian Lynch and Spheres of Influence: ConClave Vol. 2 (2010 [2011], Criss Cross): Aside from the trumpet player, no continuity in the band from either of the previous albums referred to, but Yosvany Terry (alto sax), Manuel Valera (piano), Luques Curtis (bass), Justin Brown (drums) and Pedro Martinez (percussion) know their stuff. B+(**)

Rova: Long on Logic: Compositions by Fred Frith, Henry Kaiser, and Rova (1989 [1990], Sound Aspects): Saxophone quartet, date back to mid-1970s, going from soprano to baritone: Bruce Ackley, Steve Adams, Larry Ochs, John Raskin. Fred Frith composed and mixed the first three pieces, Henry Kaiser the fourth, all rigorously abstract B+(**) [bc]

Bob Wilber: Horns-a-Plenty (1994, Arbors): The horns are all in the leader's hands: he's credited with four saxes (tenor, alto, curved soprano, and straight soprano) and clarinet. Backed by piano (Johnny Varro), bass, and drums, playing a nice mix of originals and swing standards. B+(*)

The Bob Wilber/Dany Doriz Quintet: Memories of You: Lionel and Benny (1995 [1996], Black and Blue): Doriz is a French vibraphone player and sometime big band leader, so his affinity for Hampton is a given. Wilber gets a chance to air out his clarinet, evoking the small group sessions Goodman organized with Hampton in the late 1930s. B+(**)

Bob Wilber: Nostalgia (1996, Arbors): Playing soprano sax this time, which usually puts him in a Bechet frame of mind, but this is more relaxed, especially with Bucky Pizzarelli's laconic guitar, and Ralph Sutton hamming it up on piano. B+(**)

Bob Wilber/Dick Hyman: A Perfect Match: In Tribute to Johnny Hodges and Wild Bill Davis (1997 [1998], Arbors): Davis always struck me as a middling organ player, but he pioneered the instrument playing it in Louis Jordan's Tympany Five, made several records with legendary alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges in the 1960s, and played some with Duke Ellington just before/after Hodges' death. Of course, Wilber has no chance of matching Hodges, but Hyman's organ is a plus, and the group includes Britt Woodman on trombone and James Chirillo on guitar. The vintage Ellingtonia doesn't quite measure up, but "It's Only a Paper Moon" shines. B+(*)

Bob Wilber and the International March of Jazz All Stars: Everywhere You Go There's Jazz (1998 [1999], Arbors): You may quibble about the ten-piece band's star status -- Antti Sarpila, Bent Persson, and Lars Erstrand count as internationals (and possibly some others I'd have to look up -- Wilber was born in the US but lives in England, as does three-song singer Joanne Horton). Mixed blessings: the Ellingtonia Wilber loves tepid, but they jump all over "Mahogany Hall Stomp." B+(*)

Bob Wilber and the Tuxedo Big Band: Fletcher Henderson's Unrecorded Arrangements for Benny Goodman (2000, Arbors): Fine print reveals that the big band hails from Toulouse, France, but neither the label nor Discogs provides any names -- Arbors usually provides detailed booklets, and this is clearly a coup of sorts. What I can say is that the band is up to the challenge, as is Wilber's clarinet. A-

Bob Wilber and the Tuxedo Big Band: Rampage! (2011, Arbors): Returns direction of the Toulouse, France big band to Paul Cheron, on a program of Wilber arrangements and (mostly) originals. Not sure if it's the songs or the band, but they can't sustain their occasional brilliant flashes. B

Revised Grades

Sometimes further listening leads me to change an initial grade, usually either because I move on to a real copy, or because someone else's review or list makes me want to check it again:


American Honey [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] (1974-2015 [2016], UME): [was B+(***)]: A- [cdr]

Additional Consumer News:

Previous grades on artists in the old music section.

  • Anthony Braxton: 53 other albums
  • Avishai Cohen: Introducing Triveni (2009 [2010], Anzic): B+(***)
  • Avishai Cohen: Triveni II (2012, Anzic): B+(**)
  • Avishai Cohen: Into the Silence (2015 [2016], ECM): B+(**)
  • James Luther Dickinson: Killers From Space (2007, Memphis International): B+(*)
  • Jens Lekman: Night Falls Over Kortedala (2007, Secretly Canadian): B+(*)
  • Jens Lekman: An Argument With Myself (2011, Secretly Canadian, EP): B+(***)
  • Jens Lekman: I Know What Love Isn't (2012, Secretly Canadian): A-
  • Brian Lynch: 24/7 (2002 [2005], Nagel Heyer): B+
  • Brian Lynch/Bill Charlap: Brian Lynch Meets Bill Charlap (2004, Sharp Nine): B+
  • Brian Lynch/Eddie Palmieri: Simpático (2005 [2006], ArtistShare): A-
  • Brian Lynch: Unsung Heroes (2008-2009 [2011], Hollistic Music Works): B+(***)
  • Brian Lynch/Emmet Cohen: Questioned Answer (2012 [2014], Hollistic MusicWorks): B+(**)
  • ROVA: Beat Kennel (1987, Black Saint) B-
  • ROVA: John Coltrane's Ascension (1995, Black Saint) B
  • ROVA:Orkestrova: Electric Ascension 2003 (2003 [2005], Atavistic): B
  • ROVA Saxophone Quartet: The Juke Box Suite (2006 [2007], Not Two): A-
  • ROVA & Nels Cline Singers: The Celestial Septet (2008 [2010], New World): B+(***)
  • Bob Wilber: Dancing on a Rainbow (1989, Circle): A
  • Bob Wilber and the Scott Hamilton Quartet (1977, Chiaroscuro): B
  • Bob Wilber: Bean (1994, Arbors) B+
  • Bob Wilber: More Never Recorded Arrangements for Benny Goodman, Volume Two (2002 [2003], Arbors): B+
  • Bob Wilber Is Here! (2010, Arbors): B+(**)
  • Bob Wilber and the Three Amigos (2012, Arbors): B+(***)

Notes

Everything streamed from Napster (ex Rhapsody), except as noted in brackets following the grade:

  • [cd] based on physical cd
  • [cdr] based on an advance or promo cd or cdr
  • [bc] available at bandcamp.com
  • [sc] available at soundcloud.com
  • [sp] available at spotify.com
  • [yt] available at youtube.com
  • [os] some other stream source
  • [dl] something I was able to download from the web; may be freely available, may be a bootleg someone made available, or may be a publicist promo

Monday, February 27, 2017


Music Week

Music: Current count 27834 [27814] rated (+20), 391 [386] unrated (+5).

Rated count slipped severely last week, and would have been much worse had I not dove down a hole trying to find a better Brian Lynch album than I was already aware of -- I have his 2006 collaboration with Eddie Palmieri, Simpático, at A-, and Unsung Heroes (2011) as well as last year's Madera Latino at B+(***). I found lots of pretty good records, but nothing better than those.

Excuses, excuses: I took Tuesday off to cook birthday dinner for my wife: a half-dozen Japanese dishes including salmon teriyaki and a flourless chocolate cake for dessert. Lost Monday evening shopping, and queued up three "good ol' good 'uns" while I was cooking -- Ronnie Lane's One for the Road, The Very Best of the Drifters, and Louis Jordan's Five Guys Named Moe: Vol. 2 -- and enjoyed them so much I repeated them, twice. Even now, I have Jordan songs rattling around my head. Also took some time on Sunday for an encore dinner: leftovers (mostly extra produce as opposed to reheating, but I turned the excess dashi into miso soup) plus chicken wings coated in a sticky teriyaki glaze. Alas, no new dessert.

Other things that slowed me down: my two new A- jazz records got a lot of exposure -- the Satoko Fujii double got three plays, and MOPDTK probably got six, maybe more. Not so hard to make up my mind, but I kept putting off the writing. Two non-jazz records also got three spins each: the Jens Lekman that got a Christgau A (and is currently rated 11th at Metacritic, down from 2nd when I first noticed it) and the Jesca Hoop record I actually prefer (currently 5th at Metacritic -- note that the current 2 [Tinariwen] and 3 [XX] albums are already on my fledgling 2017 A-list, although I'm not much impressed by top-rated Sampha, nor by the 6 [Loyle Carner] and 7 [William Basinski] records I checked out this week). Mark Masters and Billy Mintz also got more plays than should have been necessary.

As that rundown suggests, I spent more time looking at 2017 than 2016 releases last week, for the first time this year. As it is, I've heard 91 of the top 100 new records in my 2016 EOY Aggregate -- up from 71 as recently as 2014 (at least that's what a post I found said; I probably listened to a few more after that). I didn't add any new lists to the Aggregate last week, although I plugged in a couple new grades (from Christgau and myself).

I did spend quite a bit of time last week collecting reviews from my Streamnotes columns. I'm currently up to October 2015, so I still have about 17 months to sort through (this month's column should be up later this week, probably about the time I catch up). Reviews for 20th century albums go straight into the draft file, which is currently at 415 pages (225k words). Later reviews go into a sorted text file which I'll later use to fill up the 21st century book (currently Jazz CG only: 145 pages, 52k words; the text file has 1064k words, of which perhaps as much as one-third are redundant entries, so maybe 750k words, which in the current format would mean about 1300 pages).

I think the next step after Streamnotes will be to go through the database files and add stubs for all of the rated but unreviewed albums. That should push the 20th century guide up a bit over 500 pages, but will add very little to the 21st century. I don't think I have enough material for a valid 20th century guide, but I do have more than I expected when I started gathering this writing. I've also skipped over a shitload of non-jazz reviews (I mean thousands), which could be used to seed other projects: my database ratings for country, blues, and pre-1980 rock are pretty encyclopedic, but I doubt if I have reviews for more than 20% of any of them.


Another time sink last week was watching the Oscars and several nominated films on demand (and La La Land in the theater). I've started a book file where I'm collecting political blog posts (I'm still back in 2002, so this has just started). I've been running across a lot of movie reviews from back then, and have squirreled them away in an appendix. Reminds me how much more I saw then than now. Still, I thought I'd look back at the 2016 film list and at least jot down some grades as best I remember them.

  • Hail, Caesar!: B
  • Finding Dory: Animation. B
  • The Secret Life of Pets: Animation. B+
  • Hell or High Water: B+
  • Snowden: A-
  • Moonlight: B+
  • Loving: A-
  • Arrival: B+
  • Manchester by the Sea: B+
  • La La Land: A-

Not much here, and seems even less given that I saw fewer than half in the local monopoly's theaters. Probably the fewest movies I've seen in any year since the mid-1980s. Aside from the snub to Snowden, I don't begrudge the Oscar picks -- Moonlight seems better in memory than it did at the time; Manchester too. Still, far from a banner year.

Oh, we also saw a mockumentary Jason Bailey produced -- not on the Wikipedia list, and not really released yet so I can't look up the title, but I enjoyed it more than anything listed above.

More movies I kinda wished we had seen (well, had some small interest in, sometimes very small): Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater), Elvis & Nixon, Florence Foster Jenkins, Café Society (Woody Allen), Me Before You, Our Kind of Traitor, Captain Fantastic, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, Jason Bourne, Equity, Sully, The Magnificent Seven, Queen of Katwe (Mira Nair), Deepwater Horizon, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Tim Burton), The Girl on the Train, The Birth of a Nation, Hacksaw Ridge, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Lion, Jackie, Fences, Hidden Figures. Laura saw Zootopia and hated it.


New records rated this week:

  • William Basinski: A Shadow in Time (2017, Temporary Residence): [r]: B
  • Loyle Carner: Yesterday's Gone (2017, AMF): [r]: B
  • Allison Crutchfield: Tourist in This Town (2017, Merge): [r]: B+(**)
  • Satoko Fujii: Invisible Hand (2016 [2017], Cortez Sound, 2CD): [cd]: A-
  • Jean-Brice Godet: Lignes De Crêtes (2016 [2017], Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Jesca Hoop: Memories Are Now (2017, Sub Pop): [r]: A-
  • Jens Lekman: Life Will See You Now (2017, Secretly Canadian): [r]: B+(***)
  • Brian Lynch: Madera Latino (2012 [2016], Hollistic MusicWorks, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
  • Mark Masters Ensemble: Blue Skylight (2015-16 [2017], Capri): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Billy Mintz: Ugly Beautiful (2015 [2017], Thirteenth Note, 2CD): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Loafer's Hollow (2016 [2017], Hot Cup): [cd]: A-
  • The Sadies: Northern Passages (2017, Yep Roc): [r]: B+(*)

Old music rated this week:

  • Jens Lekman: When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog (2004, Secretly Canadian): [r]: B+(*)
  • Brian Lynch Sextet: Peer Pressure (1986 [1987], Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
  • Brian Lynch Quintet: Back Room Blues (1989 [1990], Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
  • Brian Lynch: Spheres of Influence (1997, Sharp Nine): [r]: B+(*)
  • Brian Lynch Latin Jazz Sextet: ConClave (2004 [2005], Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
  • Brian Lynch: Unsung Heroes Vol. 2 (2008-09 [2013], Hollistic MusicWorks): [r]: B+(**)
  • Brian Lynch and Spheres of Influence: ConClave Vol. 2 (2010 [2011], Criss Cross): B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Bill Brovold & Jamie Saft: Serenity Knolls (Rare Noise): advance: March 31
  • David Feldman: Horizonte (self-released): March 10
  • Jü: Summa (Rare Noise): advance, March 31
  • Robert McCarther: Stranger in Town (Psalms 149 Music)
  • Bill O'Connell: Monk's Cha Cha: Live at the Carnegie-Farian Room (Savant)
  • Miles Okazaki: Trickster (Pi): March 24
  • Rocco John: Peace and Love (Unseen Rain): March 3
  • University of Toronto 12Tet: Trillium Falls (UofT Jazz): March 10
  • University of Toronto Jazz Orcherstra: Sweet Ruby Suite (UofT Jazz): March 10
  • Jim Yanda Trio: Regional Cookin' (1987, Corner Store Jazz)
  • Jim Yanda Trio: Home Road (Corner Store Jazz, 2CD)

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Weekend Roundup

Another week, so here we go again.


Some scattered links this week in the Trumpiverse:


Also a few links less directly tied to the ephemeral in America's bout of political insanity:

  • Andrew Bacevich: At the Altar of American Greatness: There's a line deep into this piece about how "it's the politics that's gotten smaller," and indeed this piece is a good deal smaller than at first advertised -- see the subtitle: "David Brooks on Making America Great Again." Brooks is normally an easy target, but Bacevich stumbles, declaring "among contemporary journalists, he is our Walter Lippmann, the closest thing we have to an establishment-approved public intellectual." Lippmann retired in 1967, so for me was a famous name that signified little -- even today most of what I know about him I had gleaned from Walter Karp's The Politics of War, which featured him as a prominent hawk behind the so-called Great War, but while he often catered to political power, the main thing he's remembered for was his cynicism about the ignorance and gullibility of the American people. Brooks, on the other hand, is little more than a partisan hack with a bit of cosmopolitan make up to pass muster with New York/Washington elites. Still, it's interesting that Bacevich digs up a Brooks column from 1997 prefiguring Donald Trump (cue Marx's joke about tragedy/farce), titled "A Return to National Greatness" -- a title Brooks reiterated in 2017. Especially precious is the line: "The things Americans do are not for themselves only, but for all mankind." He should pinch himself to recall that he's talking about a country which positively worships the ideal of individuals pursuing their self-interest -- as witnessed by the fact that we just elected as president a guy who has done nothing but for more than fifty years.

    Under the circumstances, it's easy to forget that, back in 2003, he and other members of the Church of America the Redeemer devoutly supported the invasion of Iraq. They welcomed war. They urged it. They did so not because Saddam Hussein was uniquely evil -- although he was evil enough -- but because they saw in such a war the means for the United States to accomplish its salvific mission. Toppling Saddam and transforming Iraq would provide the mechanism for affirming and renewing America's "national greatness."

    Anyone daring to disagree with that proposition they denounced as craven or cowardly. Writing at the time, Brooks disparaged those opposing the war as mere "marchers." They were effete, pretentious, ineffective, and absurd. [ . . . ]

    In refusing to reckon with the results of the war he once so ardently endorsed, Brooks is hardly alone. Members of the Church of America the Redeemer, Democrats and Republicans alike, are demonstrably incapable of rendering an honest accounting of what their missionary efforts have yielded.

    Brooks belongs, or once did, to the Church's neoconservative branch. But liberals such as Bill Clinton, along with his secretary of state Madeleine Albright, were congregants in good standing, as were Barack Obama and his secretary of state Hillary Clinton. So, too, are putative conservatives like Senators John McCain, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, all of them subscribing to the belief in the singularity and indispensability of the United States as the chief engine of history, now and forever. [ . . . ]

    That Donald Trump inhabits a universe of his own devising, constructed of carefully arranged alt-facts, is no doubt the case. Yet, in truth, much the same can be said of David Brooks and others sharing his view of a country providentially charged to serve as the "successor to Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome." In fact, this conception of America's purpose expresses not the intent of providence, which is inherently ambiguous, but their own arrogance and conceit. Out of that conceit comes much mischief. And in the wake of mischief come charlatans like Donald Trump.

  • Srecko Horvat: Tom Hardy's Taboo goes to the heart of our new imperialist darkness: Not sure the series is that coherent, but the asides like how "colonialism doesn't cause misery only in poorer countries, it boomerangs back to rich countries with their rising inequality" are spot on. Also he notes how today private companies, much like the "honourable" British East India Company two centuries ago, have become far-from-benign forces all around the world (and he didn't even cite Exxon Mobil as an example).

  • Robin McKie: Biologists say half of all species could be extinct by end of century: Not really a new story: I read a lot about mass extinction back in the 1990s and maybe earlier, when the Alvarez theory of the K-T extinction event became popular and Carl Sagan came up with the notion of "nuclear winter." So, no surprise that it's gotten worse. Still, I'm struck by how the threat has receded in our consciousness as our politicians keep coming up with more urgent short-term crises. Thinking about the end of the century has started to look like a luxury.

  • John Nichols: Tom Perez Narrowly Defeats Keith Ellison for DNC Chair: Margin over Keith Ellison was 35 votes. It's tempting to regard Perez as a corporate stooge, but Esme Cribb has him saying some useful things, like: "I heard from rural America that the Democratic Party hasn't been there for us recently"; "We also have to redefine our mission"; and "Our unity is our greatest strength, and frankly our unity is Donald Trump's greatest nightmare." Underscoring that unity, he named Ellison "deputy chair" (see Trump Claims DNC Chair Race Was 'Totally Rigged,' Offers No Evidence.


POSTSCRIPT:

Monday, February 20, 2017


Music Week

Music: Current count 27814 [27779] rated (+35), 386 [393] unrated (-7).

Still mostly 2016 releases below, including a couple A-list finds (the current A-lists are 74 jazz and 67 non-jazz), but the share is dropping as I dip more often into my 2017 new jazz queue. Also checked out the new Tinariwen, which even with its American guests is very similar to old Tinariwen, still enough for my second 2017 non-jazz A- (after Run the Jewels 3).

Still added a few more 2017 lists to the EOY Aggregate file (a couple are mentioned in "recommended links" below). The new lists resulted in several changes to the top-twenty rank order, mostly in line with longer term trends: A Tribe Called Quest climbed into 5th, ahead of Solange; Chance the Rapper is up to 7th, barely edging Kanye West and dropping Nick Cave to 9th; Anderson .Paak took 11th from Bon Iver; Leonard Cohen took 13th from Car Seat Headrest; Mitski took 18th from Kaytranada. I'd say most of these cases favor the better record (aside from the last pair).

Not sure I'm done, but the rate of additions slowed down quite a bit midweek, as the weather warmed up enough to do some yardwork (well, actually we've been breaking records), and I finally resumed collecting reviews for the Jazz Guide(s). The latter got to be much more fun after I finished the 2001-09 notebooks (I'm assuming anything after that is redundant with the column files) and moved into Rhapsody Streamnotes, and the latter got to be more fun once I hit 2014, when I consolidated Jazz Prospecting and Recycled Goods into Streamnotes (finally, everything I run into is new for the books). Currently up to May 2014, and the 20th Century compilation is up to 374 pages. Good chance I'll finish Streamnotes this coming week.

The first two entries under "old music" were picked up while looking for newer albums. I was pleased to find Bandcamp sites for Anzic Records (looking for Daniel Freedman) and for ROVA, but both turned out to be less than ideal: Anzic had a couple albums complete, but others didn't have enough tracks to review (Anat Cohen was one important artist I wasn't able to fill in).

The reason I looked up Bob Wilber was a Facebook post by Chris Drumm inquiring about worthwhile Arbors Records releases. I've long been a fan of Wilber's and was pleased to find one album I've heard a lot about (Fletcher Henderson's Unrecorded Arrangements for Benny Goodman, a PG 4-star and a Gary Giddins favorite). The Henderson record lived up to its billing, but nothing else I had missed turned out to be essential. And still, my own Wilber favorite is 1989's Dancing on a Rainbow (Circle).

I should probably remind readers that I occasionally write little 140-character nuggets as @tomhull747. My "follower" count recently hit 250. Mostly notices of new blog posts, but sometimes something else. Total tweets to date 1714, average rate down since I stopped trying to review records on the fly, so I'm not going to swamp your feed -- just occasionally remind you of something interesting.


Recommended music links:


New records rated this week:

  • Angles 9: Disappeared Behind the Sun (2016 [2017], Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(**)
  • CP Unit: Before the Heat Death (2016 [2017], Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Tim Daisy: October Music Vol. 2: 7 Compositions for Duet (2016, Relay): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Bill Evans/Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: Beauty & the Beast (2011 [2016], Spartacus): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Factory Floor: 25 25 (2016, DFA): [r]: A-
  • Daniel Freedman: Imagine That (2016, Anzic): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Joana Gama/Luís Fernandes/Richardo Jacinto: Harmonies (2016 [2017], Shhpuma): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Josh Green & the Cyborg Orchestra: Telepathy & Bop (2016 [2017], self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Rich Halley/Carson Halley: The Wild (2015 [2017], Pine Eagle): [cd]: A-
  • Kayo Dot: Plastic House on Base of Sky (2016, The Flenser): [r]: B
  • Amirtha Kidambi/Elder Ones: Holy Science (2016, Northern Spy): [r]: B+(*)
  • Dave King Trucking Company: Surrounded by the Night (2016, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
  • Daniel Levin Quartet: Live at Firehouse 12 (2016 [2017], Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Martha: Blisters in the Pit of My Heart (2016, Dirtnap): [r]: A-
  • Donny Most: Mostly Swinging (2016 [2017], Summit): [cd]: B+(**)
  • The MUH Trio [Roberto Magris/Frantisek Uhlir/Jaromir Helesic]: Prague After Dark (2016 [2017], JMood): [cdr]: B+(***)
  • Tisziji Muñoz: Tathagata Guitar: Whisperings of Peace (2016, Anami Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Tisziji Muñoz: Heart Ground (2016, Anami Music): [r]: B+(*)
  • Doug Munro and La Pompe Attack: The Harry Warren Songbook (2016 [2017], GotMusic): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Oui' 3: Occupy Your Mind (2016 [2017], ITI): [cd]: B
  • Jason Palmer: Beauty 'N' Numbers: The Sudoku Suite (2015 [2016], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Luke Sellick: Alchemist (2016 [2017], Cellar Live): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra: Effervescence (2016 [2017], Spartacus): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Snakehips: Forever (Pt. II) EP (2015, Sony Music, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Snakehips: All My Friends EP (2016, Sony Music, EP): [r]: B+(***)
  • Tinariwen: Elwan (2017, Anti-): [r]: A-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:

  • Anna Homler and Steve Moshier: Breadwoman & Other Tales (1985-93 [2016], RVNG Intl): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sky Girl (1961-91 [2016], Efficient Space): [r]: B+(*)

Old music rated this week:

  • Avishai Cohen's Triveni: Dark Nights (2014, Anzic): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Rova: Long on Logic: Compositions by Fred Frith, Henry Kaiser, and Rova (1989 [1990], Sound Aspects): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Bob Wilber: Horn's-a-Plenty (1994, Arbors): [r]: B+(*)
  • The Bob Wilber/Dany Doriz Quintet: Memories of You: Lionel and Benny (1995 [1996], Black and Blue): [r]: B+(**)
  • Bob Wilber: Nostalgia (1996, Arbors): [r]: B+(**)
  • Bob Wilber/Dick Hayman: A Perfect Match: In Tribute to Johnny Hodges and Wild Bill Davis (1997 [1998], Arbors): [r]: B+(*)
  • Bob Wilber and the International March of Jazz All Stars: Everywhere You Go There's Jazz (1998 [1999], Arbors): [r]: B+(*)
  • Bob Wilber and the Tuxedo Big Band: Fletcher Henderson's Unrecorded Arrangements for Benny Goodman (2000, Arbors): [r]: A-
  • Bob Wilber and the Tuxedo Big Band: Rampage! (2011, Arbors): [r]: B


Grade changes:

  • American Honey [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] (1974-2015 [2016], UME): [cdr]: [was B+(***)]: A-


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Bill Hart: Touch of Blue (Blue Canoe)
  • Doug MacDonald: Jazz Marathon 2 (BluJazz, 2CD)
  • The Milwaukee Jazz Orchestra: Welcome to Swingsville! (BluJazz)
  • Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures: Glare of the Tiger (M.O.D. Technologies): March 10

Sunday, February 19, 2017


Weekend Roundup

Trump's crazy, disjointed press conference had me thinking: I doubt that Donald Trump has ever read David Ogilvy, but he's done a bang-up job of following Ogilvy's main piece of advice on living one's life:

Develop your eccentricities while you are young. That way, when you get old, people won't think you're going gaga.

Trump's biography is chock full of such peculiarities, and indeed that's given him a certain protection against anything he does now -- a way of making excuses, rationalizing his tirades and outrages.

Still, I think the most important lesson from last week is the extent to which Trump has chosen to vilify the media. Admittedly, that's a tactic that has served him well in the past, but there is a fundamental difference between attacking the system from outside and defending the system he's gained control of. The media has always been eager to kowtow to power, but that's partly because they expect some stroking in return. Trump's characterization of everything they say as "fake news" is an affront (and a challenge) to their self-image.

On the other hand, Trump's emergence as crazy-in-chief has thus far worked out nicely for the Republican party regulars, both in Congress and increasingly in the administration (and eventually in the courts). As any con artist knows, the key is to get the marks to pay attention elsewhere while they pull off their manipulations unseen, and Trump is a marvelous distraction. Isn't it interesting that Trump's own staunchest campaign supporters have failed to get job offers in the new regime: Rudy Giulliani, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich? Even Kris Kobach, the only Republican in Kansas to endorse Trump before the caucuses here, was passed over despite a couple of high-profile photo ops with Trump. The only exception I can think of is former Senator, new Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump has managed to keep a couple pet advisers like Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway in non-policy positions, but that's about it. He's well on his way to becoming the loneliest and most expendable man in his administration. I can't say as I'm surprised.


Some scattered links this week in the Trumpiverse:

Along the way, I wandered across a lot of liberal links critical of Trump but obsessed with Russia, including posts by John Cassidy, Paul Krugman, George Packer, and David Remnick. In particular, Packer complains about "the heads of key House and Senate committees who are doing as little as possible to expose corruption and possible treason in the White House." The word that sticks in my craw there is "treason." I can't overstate how sick and tired I am of that word -- not least because it implies that we're obligated to be loyal to some hidden, unknowable, and unquestionable power. Packer goes on to describe "an authoritarian and erratic leader" -- I mean, which is it? Doesn't the latter subvert the former? He also names John McCain and Lindsey Graham as among "the few critical Republican voices" -- the only thing they've been critical of is that Trump hasn't started any new wars yet (and the word for that isn't "critical" -- it's "impatient").

Also a few links less directly tied to the ephemeral in America's bout of political insanity:

Monday, February 13, 2017


Music Week

Music: Current count 27779 [27740] rated (+39), 393 [383] unrated (+10).

Having a hard time letting go of 2016, possibly because I get the feeling I have so little to look forward to in 2017.

Queue continues to grow as I pick up 2016 list items -- seems like a lot of these came from Jason Gubbels, although Élage Diouf came from an Afropop list I found on ILXOR, and the Meridian Brothers reissue first appeared in the fine print under metal-crazed Uncle Fester's Lucky 13 (or is it psyched-out -- whatever the fuck psych is). Most interesting HMs are by Autolux, Fantastic Negrito, and Dele Sosimi (2015 releases keep sneaking in). Best jazz this week is the new Throttle Elevator Jazz Retrorespective.

Martha sounds good for next week, but needs another spin. Sampha strikes me as super-overrated (Metacritic score 86 on 24 reviews, which will most likely make it a top-20 album a year from now, somewhere between Kaytranada and Anderson Paak this year -- Tinariwen's Elwan and Jens Lekman's Life Will See You Now have 87 scores but only 8-10 reviews, so their scores are less significant).

Started reading Ira Katznelson's Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time, which is proving uncomfortable and more than a little annoying. Thus far (120 pages in) the main subject is the notion that liberal democracy was looking doomed in the early 1930s with fascism and bolshevism ascendant -- e.g., he cites Walter Lippman arguing for a beneficient dictatorship. Then as now the driving force behind fascism was fear, but as I read this I keep thinking, hey, don't we know better this time? Granted, the news is full of proof way too many of us don't know shit, and sensible minds are in short supply.


New records rated this week:

  • Africans With Mainframes: K.M.T. (2016, Soul Jazz): [r]: A-
  • A$AP Ferg: Always Strive and Prosper (2016, Polo Grounds/RCA): [r]: B+(**)
  • Autolux: Pussy's Dead (2016, 30th Century/Columbia): [r]: B+(***)
  • Heather Bambrick: You'll Never Know (2016 [2017], self-released): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Bentcousin: Bentcousin (2016, Team Love): [r]: B+(**)
  • Dierks Bentley: Black (2016, Capitol Nashville): [r]: B
  • Laura Cannell: Simultaneous Flight Movement (2016, Brawl): [r]: B+(*)
  • City Yelps: Half Hour (2016, Odd Box): [r]: B+(*)
  • Chook Race: Around the House (2016, Trouble in Mind): [r]: B+(*)
  • Kweku Collins: Nat Love (2016, Closed Sessions): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jon De Lucia Group: As the River Sings (2014 [2017], Fresh Sound New Talent): [cdr]: B+(***)
  • Élage Diouf: Melokáane (2016, Pump Up the World): [r]: A-
  • DJ Diamond: Footwork or Die (2016, Duck N' Cover): [r]: B-
  • Mark Ernestus' Ndagga Rhythm Force: Yermande (2016, Ndagga): [r]: B+(**)
  • Fantastic Negrito: The Last Days of Oakland (2016, Blackball Universe): [r]: B+(***)
  • Nick Finzer: Hear & Now (2016 [2017], Outside In Music): [r]: B+(*)
  • Injury Reserve: Live From the Dentist Office (2015, Las Fuegas): [sc]: B+(**)
  • Leyla McCalla: A Day for the Hunter, a Day for the Prey (2016, Jazz Village): [r]: B+(**)
  • Cass McCombs: Mangy Love (2016, Anti-): [r]: B
  • Merso: Red World (2016, Good to Die): [r]: B+(**)
  • Moksha: The Beauty of an Arbitrary Moment (2016, Jazzland): [r]: B+(*)
  • Hannah Peel: Awake but Always Dreaming (2016, My Own Pleasure): [r]: B
  • Florian Pellissier Quintet: Cap De Bonne Esperance (2016, Heavenly Sweetness): [r]: B+(**)
  • Luis Perdomo: Spirits and Warriors (2016, Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
  • Renegades of Jazz: Moyo Wangu (2016, Agogo): [r]: B+(***)
  • Carrie Rodriguez: Lola (2016, Luz): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sampha: Process (2017, Young Turks): [r]: B+(*)
  • Scarcity of Tanks: Ringleader Lies (2016, Total Life Society): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sneaks: It's a Myth (2016, Merge, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Dele Sosimi: You No Fit Touch Am (2015, Wah Wah 45s): [r]: B+(***)
  • Dele Sosimi Meets Prince Fatty & Nostalgia 77: You No Fit Touch Am in Dub (2016, Wah Wah 45s): [r]: B+(**)
  • Throttle Elevator Music: IV (2014-16 [2016], Wide Hive): [r]: B+(**)
  • Throttle Elevator Music: Retrorespective (2016 [2017], Wide Hive): [r]: B+(***)
  • Trouble Kaze: June (2016 [2017], Circum-Disc): [cd]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:

  • J Dilla: The Diary (2001-02 [2016], Mass Appeal/Pay Jay): [r]: B+(*)
  • Doing It in Lagos: Boogie, Pop & Disco in 1980's Nigeria (1979-84 [2016], Soundway, 2CD): [r]: B
  • Arthur Lipner: Two Hands One Heart: Best of Arthur Lipner (1990-2014 [2017], Malletworks Media, 2CD): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Meridian Brothers V: El Advenimiento del Castillo Mujer (2005 [2016], Discrepant): [r]: A-
  • Joe Newman Sextet: The Happy Cats (1956 [2016], Fresh Sound): [r]: B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Greg Abate/Tim Ray Trio: Road to Forever (Whaling City Sound): February 24
  • Jason Anick & Jason Yeager: United (Inner Circle Music): March 10
  • Ballrogg: Abaft the Beam (Clean Feed)
  • Carlos Bica & Azul: More Than This (Clean Feed)
  • Akua Dixon: Akua's Dance (Akua's Music)
  • Gerry Gibbs & Thrasher People: Weather or Not (Whaling City Sound): February 24, should be 2CD but only one arrived
  • Gorilla Mask: Iron Lung (Clean Feed)
  • Jill Jack and the American SongBook Band: Pure Imagination (UpHill Productions)
  • Kirk MacDonald Jazz Orchestra: Common Ground (Addo): February 24
  • Ben Markley Big Band: Clockwise: The Music of Cedar Walton (OA2): February 17
  • Lisa Mezzacappa: Avant Noir (Clean Feed)
  • Nicole Mitchell: Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds (FPE): May 5
  • Velkro: Too Lazy to Panic (Clean Feed)
  • Michael Zilber: Originals for the Originals (Origin): February 17

Sunday, February 12, 2017


Weekend Roundup

Running the image again. I doubt I'll really keep that up for four years, but for now it inspires me to dig up this shit.

Still need to write up something about Matt Taibbi's Insane Clown President: Dispatches From the 2016 Circus -- recently read, although it recycles a lot that I had previously read, including a sizable chunk of Taibbi's 2009 book The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire -- an excavation so profound that Maureen Dowd snarfed up a keyword for her own regurgitation of campaign columns, The Year of Voting Dangerously: The Derangement of American Politics (a title which makes me wonder how she would have faired in Taibbi's 2004 Wimblehack -- see Spanking the Donkey: Dispatches From the Dumb Season).

Still, I suspect that the weakness of both Taibbi and Dowd books is their focus on the more obvious story: how ridiculous the Republicans were (a subject that served Taibbi best in 2008 when he compiled his brief Smells Like Dead Elephants before taking the time to craft The Great Deformation). In retrospect, the real story wasn't how Trump won, but how Hillary Clinton lost. Looking ahead, books by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes (Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign, out April 18) and/or Doug Wead (Game of Thorns: The Inside Story of Hillary Clinton's Failed Campaign and Donald Trump's Winning Strategy, February 28) promise some insight (or at least insider dope). Still, I doubt anyone is going to write something that satisfactorily explains the whole election for some time.

One thing that keeps eating at me about the election is that while Trump's polls oscillated repeatedly, falling whenever voters got a chance to compare him side-by-side (as in the debates, or even more strongly comparing the two conventions), then bouncing back on the rare weeks when he didn't say something scandalous, Clinton's polls never came close to topping 50%. She was, in short, always vulnerable, and all Trump needed to get close was a couple weeks where he seemed relatively sane (on top of all that Koch money organizing down ballot, especially in Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, and the Midwest). I doubt if any other Republican could have beat Clinton: Trump's ace in the hole was his antithesis to Washington insider-dom, which gave him credibility she couldn't buy (despite massive evidence that he was the crooked one). But just as importantly, Trump suckered her into campaigning on high-minded centrism (including support from nearly everyone in the permanent defense/foreign affairs eatablishment), which weakened her support among traditional Democrats. Any other Republican would have forced her to run as a Democrat, and she would have been better off for that.

Again, it's not that working people rationally thought they'd be better off with Trump. It's just that too many didn't feel any affinity for or solidarity with her. Of course, those who discovered their own reasons for voting against the Republicans -- which includes the left, blacks, Latinos, immigrants, single women, and others the Democrats bank on but don't invest in -- voted for her anyway. But others needed to be reminded of the differences between the parties, and Clinton didn't do a good job at that (nor did Obama give her much to build on, as he almost never blamed Republicans for undermining his efforts).

Meanwhile, Trump's net favorability polling is down to -15.


Some links on the Trump world this week:


Also a few links not so directly tied to America's bout of political insanity:

  • At TomDispatch this week: Tom Engelhardt: Crimes of the Trump Era (a Preview); Raja Menon: Is President Trump Headed for a War with China?. Menon, by the way, has a book called The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention (2016). Regarding China, I'm reminded of a scenario sketched out by the late Chalmers Johnson: suppose a country launched a dumptruck-load of gravel into earth orbit (something well within China's capability); it would in short order destroy every satellite (including China's, but most are American or owned by corporations). Without killing any people, the economic effects would be devastating, and it would cripple America's ability to spy on friend and foe, or indeed to direct foreign wars. I'd argue that this capability all by itself makes China too big to attack (Russia, of course, could do the same, at more cost to itself; moreover, the technology isn't far out for emerging rocket builders, notably Iran and North Korea). Given these realities, the US would be well advised to work on cooperation instead of intimidation. Still, that's not Trump's style, nor is it China's: "Xi Jinping, like Trump, presents himself as a tough guy, sure to trounce his enemies at home and abroad. Retaining that image requirse that he not bend when it comes to defending China's land and honor." Neocon Robert Kagan has his own alarming scenario: Backint Into World War III. But then he's arguing to march forward into conflict, rather than back into it -- which, by the way, he sees Trump doing in his "further accommodation of Russia" (as opposed to his "tough" stance against China).

  • Stan Finger: Police seek answers, reversal as aggravated assaults surge: Could a 50% increase in aggravated assault cases since the 2013 passage of Kansas' "open carry" gun law have anything to do with that law? Minds boggle, especially as the delayed opening up of open gun carry on college campuses is looming. One complaint is new gun toters haven't been "properly trained," but wasn't a big part of the 2013 law the elimination of training requirements?

    Also in the Eagle today: Dion Lefler/Stan Finger: Race to replace Pompeo in Congress is down to three candidates: Republicans nominated Brownback crony Ron Estes, while the Democrats are backing civil rights attorney James Thompson, who will hopefully turn the election to replace CIA Director Mike Pompeo into a referendum on the Trump and Brownback administrations. (Salon has a piece by Rosana Hegeman on Thompson.) Also: Dion Lefler: 1,500 Sanders tickets sold so far, leading to move to a bigger venue, who will be speaking in Topeka on February 25.

  • Sayed Kashua: Preparing My Kids for the New America: One thing I've long noted is how much the right-wing, traditionally the last bastion of anti-semitism, has grown to admire Israel. So as they consolidate their power, it shouldn't be surprising that they're starting to make America look more like Israel, or that the first to notice would be Palestinians who lived in (and fled from) Israel.

  • John McQuaid: Coastal cities in danger: Florida has seen bad effects from Trump-like climate gag orders: North Carolina, too. Also, John Upton: Coastal Cities Could Flood Three Times a Week by 2045.

  • Daniel Oppenheimer: Not Yet Falling Apart: "Two thinkers on the left offer a guide to navigating the stormy seas of modernity." Quasi-review of Mark Lilla's The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction, trying to contrast it with Corey Robin's The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism From Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin (due for a new edition, with Trump eclipsing Palin, as indeed it does get worse, not to mention dumber). Oppenheimer make much of Lilla reviewing (and panning) Robin's book, then not including the review in his short collection (like Robin, the book stakes out the terrain of a broad, systematic study but falls short by recycling old book reviews -- in this case "thinkers" such as Franz Rosenzweig, Leo Strauss, Eric Vogelin, and Michel Houllebecq).

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


Music Week

Music: Current count 27740 [27708] rated (+32), 383 [363] unrated (+20).

Failed to get this posted on Monday (or Tuesday before I finally went to bed) for the first time since I can't remember. The immediate cause on Monday was that I got distracted researching possible fixes for a faulty ice maker. Yesterday I wound up ordering a part which may not be the total fix but is at least necessary. I agree with the proposition of a movie called The Mosquito Coast that "ice is civilization," so this is a matter of some import. (That movie, by the way, was the first place I really noticed Helen Mirren.)

Then I wound up wasting much of Tuesday adding Metacritic's Top Ten Lists to my EOY Aggregate. Thought I was done with that, and indeed I had moved on to resume work on my Jazz Guides (finally getting through the 2001-09 notebooks and into Rhapsody Streamnotes). But I kept thinking it would be nice to hit the bottom before posting, and it didn't happen until early Wednesday evening. Then I found ILXOR's thread, so I've started scanning through it. I don't expect these additions to change positions much -- although there are some close ones: Solange leads Tribe for 5th by 5 (437-432), Chance passed Nick Cave for 7th (395-378), Bon Iver's hold on 11th has been slipping to Anderson Paak (318-314), Car Seat Headrest has grabbed 14th from Anohni (276-264), Rihanna edged into 16th ahead of Danny Brown (230-225), Kaytranada barely holds 18th over Mitski (202-201).

Below you'll find a typical long list of records: a little bit of 2017 jazz and a lot of interesting-looking 2016 EOY list items, few of which panned out. I had a lot of trouble with the XX album too -- Michael Tatum likes it, and hopefully will write about it soon. Took me a lot of plays, but I found my favorite song from the album rattling around in my head several days later. You might note that two albums (Injury Reserve, The Hamilton Mixtape) from last week's Expert Witness fell just short (after 2-3 plays), while I previously graded two of Bob's HMs at A- (Atmosphere, Ka; I had Noname and J Cole at **). I've since caught up with two other albums (Kool A.D. and the older Injury Reserve, having to go to Bandcamp and Soundcloud respectively), but I couldn't find the politically timely Battle Hymns.

One thing you'll note below is seven SteepleChase releases. The Danish label, notorious for never sending out promos, has recently appeared on Napster, so after noticing that I've been looking through their recent release lists. Chris Byars is an artist I've wanted to catch up on -- his Photos in Black, White and Gray was a JCG Pick Hit in 2007, and after he moved to SteepleChase the one record I did get a chance to hear, 2011's Lucky Strikes Again, is a terrific Lucky Thompson tribute. Still most of his catalog isn't on Napster. Hopefully they'll eventually get the whole back catalog up: Nils Winther founded the label in 1972, starting out with expat Americans like Dexter Gordon and Duke Jordan, and wound up being a refuge for dozens of important mainstream jazz players (like Byars). I count 17 A/A- records in my database, but there are surely dozens more I haven't heard.

Lot of incoming mail last week, much of it promising. I got another package from Clean Feed today (not listed below). Despite my tardiness, this week's list was cut off Sunday night. Been listening to more of the same the last couple days.


New records rated this week:

  • Oren Ambarchi: Hubris (2016, Editions Mego): [r]: A-
  • Ballister: Slag (2015 [2017], Aerophonic): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Joe Bourne: Upbeat and Sweet (2016 [2017], Summit): [cd]: C
  • Chris Byars: Two Fives (2014 [2015], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Chris Byars: The Music of Frank Strozier (2015 [2017], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • The CCM Jazz Orchestra as James Bond: Nobody Does It Better (2013 [2017], Summit): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Carla dal Forno: You Know What It's Like (2016, Blackest Ever Black): [r]: B+(*)
  • Death Grips: Bottomless Pit (2016, Third Worlds/Harvest): [r]: B+(*)
  • Olegario Diaz: Aleph in Chromatic (2015 [2016], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Dvsn: Sept. 5th (2016, OVO Sound/Warner Brothers): [r]: B+(*)
  • The Flat Five: It's a World of Love and Hate (2016, Bloodshot): [r]: B-
  • Injury Reserve: Floss (2016, Las Fuegas): [r]: B+(***)
  • Kirk Knuffke/Jesse Stacken: Satie (2015 [2016], SteepleChase): [r]: B
  • Kool AD: Official (2016, self-released, EP): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Michel Lambert: Alom Mola (2016 [2017], Jazz From Rant): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Jihye Lee Orchestra: April (2016 [2017], self-released): [cd]: B-
  • Okkyung Lee & Christian Marclay: Amalgam (2014 [2016], Northern Spy): [r]: B
  • James Brandon Lewis Trio: No Filter (2016, BNS Sessions): [r]: B+(**)
  • Chelsea McBride's Socialist Night School: The Twilight Fall (2016 [2017], Browntasaurus): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Brad Myers & Michael Sharfe: Sanguinaria (Hopefulsongs) (2016 [2017], Colloquy): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Awa Poulo: Poulo Warali (2016 [2017], Awesome Tapes From Africa): [r]: B+(**)
  • Primal Scream: Chaosmosis (2016, First International/Ignition): [r]: B+(**)
  • Stephen Riley & Peter Zak: Haunted Heart (2014 [2015], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Stephen Riley/Peter Zak: Deuce (2014 [2017], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Roosevelt: Roosevelt (2016, City Slang): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sao Paulo Underground: Cantos Invisiveis (2016, Cuneiform): [dl]: B+(**)
  • Skee Mask: Shred (2016, Ilian Tape): [r]: B+(**)
  • Baron Tymas: Montréal (2015 [2017], Tymasmusic): [cd]: B+(*)
  • The XX: I See You (2017, Young Turks): [r]: A-
  • Peter Zak: Standards (2014 [2016], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:

  • The Hamilton Mixtape (2016, Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
  • New York Noise: Dance Music From the New York Underground 1977-1982 (1977-82 [2016], Soul Jazz): [r]: B+(**)

Old music rated this week:

  • Anthony Braxton: Quintet (London) 2004: Live at the Royal Festival Hall (2004 [2005], Leo): [r]: B+(**)
  • Anthony Braxton: Quartet (Moscow) 2008 (2008, Leo): [r]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Sebastien Ammann: Color Wheel (Skirl)
  • AMP Trio: Three (self-released)
  • Angles 9: Disappeared Behind the Sun (Clean Feed)
  • Gianni Bianchini: Type I (self-released): February 21
  • Alex Cline's Flower Garland Orchestra: Oceans of Vows (self-released, 2CD): advance
  • CP Unit: Before the Heat Death (Clean Feed)
  • Bill Evans/Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: Beauty & the Beast (Spartacus)
  • Satoko Fujii: Invisible Hound (Cortez Sound): February 10
  • Joana Gama/Luís Fernandes/Richardo Jacinto: Harmonies (Clean Feed)
  • Jean-Brice Godet: Lignes De Crêtes (Clean Feed)
  • Rich Halley/Carson Halley: The Wild (Pine Eagle)
  • Daniel Levin Quartet: Live at Firehouse 12 (Clean Feed)
  • Mark Masters Ensemble: Blue Skylight (Capri): February 17
  • Billy Mintz: Ugly Beautiful (Thirteenth Note): March 7
  • Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Loafer's Hollow (Hot Cup): February 24
  • The MUH Trio [Roberto Magris/Frantisek Uhlir/Jaromir Helesic]: Prague After Dark (JMood)
  • Eivind Opsvik: Overseas V (Loyal Label)
  • Keith Oxman: East of the Village (Capri)
  • Noah Preminger: Meditations on Freedom (self-released)
  • The Reunion Project: Veranda (Tapestry)
  • Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra: Effervescence (Spartacus): February 24
  • Hiromi Suda: Nagi (BluJazz)
  • Trouble Kaze: June (Circum-Disc): March 3

Sunday, February 5, 2017


Weekend Roundup

Picked up this image off Twitter. Looks like we've found our Weekend Roundup motto, for the next four years anyways. More links than usual because so much shit's been happening. Less commentary than in the old days because it's all so straightforwardly obvious.

I had meant to write about Matt Taibbi's book Insane Clown President: Dispatches From the 2016 Circus, but should hold off and do that later. I will say that the big problems with the book are due to the concept: it mostly a compilation of previously published pieces, so tends to preserve the moment's misconceptions in amber rather than taking the time to rethink the story from its conclusion in a way that might make more sense of it all. On the other hand, it didn't make sense, and still doesn't make sense, and as the consequences of the election unfold becomes more and more surreal. In Taibbi's defense, he probably had a better grasp both of Trump's appeal and of Clinton's repulsion than any journalist I can think of. Also does a heroic job of not mincing words, and remains exceptionally conscious of how presidential campaigns warp the media space around them. Still, he can't quite believe how it turned out, and neither can I.


A short bit from a New York Times "By the Book" interview with Viet Tranh Nguyen (wrote a novel, The Sympathizer, which my wife read and loved):

I've been reading news and opinion pieces on Facebook and Twitter. They're utterly terrifying and depressing, since my social circle basically thinks that a Trump presidency spells the end of the world. To get out of the echo chamber, I read Donald Trump's Twitter feed. It's utterly terrifying and depressing, and I run back into the echo chamber.

I take comfort in the children's literature that I read to my 3-year-old son. He will tolerate the tales of Beatrix Potter, which I find soothing, but mostly he wants to hear about Batman, Superman, Ghostbusters and Star Wars. The moral clarity is comforting not just for a 3-year-old, but also for many adults. This is why they are relevant to our divided age, where most people identify with the rebels but so many in fact are complicit with the Empire.

The links below, of course, come from the left-liberal echo chamber (well, plus some anti-war paleo-conservatives). They're the ones paying attention (in some cases a welcome change after sleepwalking through the Obama years).


I picked this up off Twitter, but I also saw the video clip (OK, on Saturday Night Live, but it sure looked authentic. Comes from Bill O'Reilly interviewing Trump:

O'REILLY: But he's a killer though. Putin's a killer.

TRUMP: There are a lot of killers. We've got a lot of killers. What do you think -- our country's so innocent?

There are a lot of things one can say about this. For one thing it's true, which isn't often the case with Trump. But it's hardly a revelation. It's just something that no politician would say -- least of all someone like Obama or the Clintons who have personally signed off on execution orders then gone on to gloat about their killings in public. So you can chalk Trump's admission up to his anti-PC ethic: his willingness to call out truths in blunt language. But more specifically, he's denying O'Reilly resort to a PC cliché. He's saying you can't dismiss working with Putin out of hand because he's a killer. We're all killers here -- Trump joined the club last week in ordering a Seal Team 6 assault in Yemen -- so that hardly disqualifies Putin. The disturbing part is that being a killer is probably something Trump admires in Putin. Back during the campaign, Trump not only vowed to kill ostensible enemies like ISIS, he talked on several occasions about shooting random people on Fifth Avenue, like the ability to do that and not be held accountable would be the pinnacle of freedom. Being elected president doesn't quite afford him that latitude, but it does offer plenty of opportunities to indulge his blood lust. Worse still, Trump's championing of killers helps establish murder as a political and social norm. Sure, assassination has been sanctioned as expedient politics by US presidents at least as far back as Kennedy, but Trump threatens to make it a uniquely new bragging point.

As this and similar stories play out, all sorts of nonsense is likely to ensue. I don't know whether to laugh or cry at Adam Gopnik: Trump's Radical Anti-Americanism. The truth is that America has a long history of split-personality disorder, at once touting lofty progressive intentions while having committed a long series of inexcusable atrocities. So will the real America stand up? At least with the exceptionalist cant you knew they'd try to put on a kind and honorable face. But with Trump and his more bloodthirsty followers, you're liable to get something else: a celebration of the underside of American history, a legacy that celebrates brutal and ruthless conquest.


Some scattered links this week:

Also a few links not so directly tied to America's bout of political insanity:

Saturday, January 30, 2016


Music Week

Music: Current count 27708 [27673] rated (+35), 366 [363] unrated (+3).

Most of what I have to say both about new music and EOY lists has already appeared in last week's Streamnotes post. Since then I added the new David Weiss album to my nascent 2017 A-list. Still almost exclusively jazz because that's what I have physical copies of, but I'm working on the xx -- new album is as slow to catch as the old ones, but Tatum likes it a lot and I'm sorta getting there.

Updated EOY Aggregate file to include the Village Voice's Pazz + Jop results, as well as Robert Christgau's ean's List. I wrote some extra code for the latter to include the reviews in the CG database -- all but eight records appear (some appeared at Noisey after my last update, some have yet to appear).

Glenn McDonald's tabulation of Pazz + Jop results is here. I didn't see a link to this at from the Voice site, so I'm personally late in looking at it. Here's my own ballot analysis: my centricity score was 0.887 (451 of 542), less than my historic average, although I only voted for one record this time that no one else listed (Chemistry, by Houston Person & Ron Clarke, one of those marvelous mainstream sax albums I'm so partial to). Still, the hive think this year was such that I fell into the most obscurantist decile despite voting for three albums with 10+ other votes: Drive-By Truckers (55), Brandy Clark (20), Aesop Rock (10). The most similar ballots to mine were by Todd Kristel (3 common albums; he was the only other voter for Aly Keita's Kalo-Yele; 9 of his albums were on my A-list, the only exception a *** for Car Seat Headrest, and he was the only one to vote for Tom Zé's Canções Eróticas de Ninar) and Tim Riley (2 common albums, DBT and Clark, only 6 A-list, I wasn't among his 16 most similar ballots).

Among voters I've been similar to in the past, Jason Gubbels had my 6th most similar ballot (common votes for David Murray and Brandy Clark; 7 A-list, 3 ***), and Michael Tatum was 12th (common vote for DBT, 6 A-list, 2 ***, 2 lower). Tatum's most similar ballot belonged to Robert Christgau (not on my common list, but we both had DBT, and he had 9 of my A-list albums plus one ***), so if the ballots went deeper we would have been more similar. Looking at these lists, perhaps I should reconsider Car Seat Headrest and American Honey. I wouldn't be surprised if either rose a notch if I bothered to give them much more time. By the way, Gubbels' long, unranked EOY list is here.

I hope to resume work on the Jazz Guide(s), which got interrupted a couple months ago due to a computer crash.


New records rated this week:

  • Rez Abbasi & Junction: Behind the Vibration (2015 [2016], Cuneiform): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Shirley Collins: Lodestar (2016, Domino): [r]: B+(***)
  • Stephan Crump/Ingrid Laubrock/Cory Smythe: Planktonic Finales (2015 [2017], Intakt): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Tim Daisy's Celebration Sextet: The Halfway There Suite (2016, Relay): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Tim Daisy: Red Nation "1" (2016 [2017], Relay): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Frank Gratkowski/Alexey Kruglov/Simon Nabatov/Oleg Yudanov: Leo Records 35th Anniversary Moscow (2014 [2015], Leo): [r]: B+(*)
  • Barry Guy & Ken Vandermark: Occasional Poems (2014 [2015], |Not Two, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
  • I.P.A.: I Just Did Say Something (2016, Cuneiform): [dl]: B+(**)
  • Led Bib: Umbrella Weather (2016 [2017], RareNoise): [cdr]: B+(*)
  • Terrace Martin: Velvet Portraits (2016, Ropeadope): [r]: B
  • Dave Rempis/Elisabeth Harnik/Michael Zerang: Wistfully (2013 [2016], Aerophonic): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Dave Rempis/Joe Morris/Tomeka Reid/Jim Baker: Nettles (2013 [2016], Aeroponic): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Dave Rempis/Darren Johnston/Larry Ochs: Neutral Nation (2015 [2016], Aerophonic): [bc]: B
  • Dawn Richard: Redemption (2016, Our Dawn): [r]: B+(**)
  • Richmond Fontaine: You Can't Go Back if There's Nothing to Go Back To (2016, Fluff & Gravy): [r]: B+(***)
  • Free Nelson Mandoomjazz: The Organ Grinder (2016, RareNoise): [r]: B+(*)
  • Slava Ganelin/Lenny Sendersky: Hotel Cinema (2016, Leo): [r]: B+(**)
  • Le Rex: Wild Man (2014 [2015], Cuneiform): [dl]: B+(*)
  • Simon Nabatov Trio: Picking Order (2015 [2016], Leo): [r]: B+(**)
  • Qasim Naqvi: Chronology (2016, New Amsterdam): [bc]: B
  • Jeff Rosenstock: Worry (2016, Side One Dummy): [r]: B+(*)
  • Xenia Rubinos: Black Terry Cat (2016, Anti): [r]: B+(*)
  • Richard Sears Sextet: Altadena (2015 [2016], Ropeadope): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kandace Springs: Soul Eyes (2016, Blue Note): [r]: B
  • Jonah Tolchin: Thousand Mile Night (2016, Yep Roc): [r]: B+(**)
  • Yves Tumor: Serpent Music (2016, Pan): [r]: B+(*)
  • David Weiss & Point of Departure: Wake Up Call (2015 [2017], Ropeadope): [cd]: A-
  • Weyes Blood: Front Row Seat to Earth (2016, Mexican Summer): [r]: B-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:

  • African Head Charge: Return of the Crocodile (1981-86 [2016], On-U Sound): [r]: B+(**)
  • Bitori: Legend of Funana: The Forbidden Music of the Cape Verde Islands (1997 [2016], Analog Africa): [r]: B+(***)
  • Gqom Oh! The Sound of Durban Vol 1 (2016, Goom Oh!): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Elvis Presley: Way Down in the Jungle Room (1976, RCA/Legacy, 2CD): [r]: B+(*)
  • Putumayo Presents: African Rumba (1962-2015 [2016], Putumayo World Music): [cd]: A-
  • Senegal 70: Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From the 70s (1970s [2015], Analog Africa): [r]: B+(**)
  • Space Echo: The Mystery Behind the Cosmic Sound of Cabo Verde Finally Revealed! (1977-85 [2016], Analog Africa): [r]: B+(**)

Old music rated this week:

  • James Luther Dickinson: Dixie Fried (1972, Atlantic): [r]: B
  • James Luther Dickinson: Jungle Jim and the Voodoo Tiger (2006, Memphis International): [r]: B+(**)
  • James Luther Dickinson: Dinosaurs Run in Circles (2009, Memphis International): [r]: B+(**)


Grade changes:

  • Fanfare Ciocarlia: 20 (1996-2016 [2016], Asphalt Tango): [r]: [was B:+(***)] A-


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Heather Bambrick: You'll Never Know (self-released): February 10
  • Josh Green & the Cyborg Orchestra: Telepathy & Bop (self-released): March 2
  • Donny Most: Mostly Swinging (Summit)

prev -- next