Blog Entries [10 - 19]
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Music: current count 30774  rated (+38), 259  unrated (-5).
No Weekend Roundup this week. Sunday was the deadline for ballots
for the 13th Annual Jazz Critics Poll, and I spent pretty much every
waking hour collecting and compiling mail, checking details on records,
and occasionally kicking back requests for clarification or changes --
main problem is the arbitrary 10-year cutoff date between new and
historical music categories. Still counted a couple of stragglers
today, giving us 137 ballots -- same as in 2017. I expect results to
be published at NPR sometime next week, but don't know anything for
sure. Presumably they'll let me know in time for me to set up the
complete totals and individual ballots on
I still have some annotation to do, but everything is pretty well
set up on my end. That means I should get back to normal shortly --
it's just that aside from JCP, nothing I had planned to do last week
got done, so I'm starting from a hole.
I did wind up making one minor change to my JCP ballot (see
Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Awase from 10th place on my new list and
moved Martin Küchen & Landaeus Trio: Vinyl into its slot
from the Reissues/Historical list (moving the following three records
there up). Küchen's music dates from 2013-14, so doesn't qualify as
historical given the 10-year rule. And I decided that it isn't really
a reissue, even though the music was previously released on two vinyl
LPs. This was their first appearance on CD, and it's not unusual for
new records to go through changes from format to format. Seemed like
the best answer for JCP, although I still have it Reissue/Historical
in my own still-evolving EOY lists
Non-Jazz). Both of
those lists grew by 2 last week, so now are 55-49. Still, none of
the new records came close to being ballot picks.
No incoming CDs last week, although I did get a couple packages this
week, including new releases from NoBusiness in Lithuania. I don't think
I've ever run the numbers before, but my impression has long been that
close to half of my top-rated albums come from European artists (22/55
this year) and/or labels (25/55) -- not that I'm sure I'm counting either
right. (Add one in both columns for Japan/Asia.)
I should also offer a link to the
EOY Aggregate file. I was
close to caught up a week ago, but since then I've fallen way behind --
lots of lists are coming out, and I've only counted a few. So I expect
quite a bit of change as I catch up.
New records rated this week:
- Albatre: The Fall of the Damned (2018, Shhpuma): [r]: B
- Anguish: Anguish (2018, RareNoise): [cdr]: B+(**)
- Lotte Anker/Pat Thomas/Ingebrigt Hĺker Flaten/Stĺle Liavik Solberg: His Flight's at Ten (2016 , Iluso): [bc]: B+(**)
- Kadhja Bonet: Childqueen (2018, Fat Possum): [r]: B-
- Butcher Brown: Camden Session (2018, Gearbox): [r]: B+(*)
- Carla Campopiano Trio: Chicago/Buenos Aires Connections (2018, self-released): [cd]: B
- Guillermo Celano/Jachim Badenhorst/Marcos Baggiani: Lili & Marleen (2016 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
- Coyote Poets of the Universe: Strange Lullaby (2018, Square Shaped, 2CD): [cd]: A-
- Dystil: Dystil (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- Satoko Fujii/Joe Fonda: Mizu (2018, Long Song): [bc]: B+(***)
- The Goon Sax: We're Not Talking (2018, Wichita): [r]: A-
- Guillermo Gregorio/Rafal Mazur/Ramón López: Wandering the Sounds (2018, Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(***)
- Barry Guy: Barry Guy @ 70: Blue Horizon: Live at Ad Libitum ()2017 , Fundacja Sluchaj, 3CD): [bc]: A-
- Eric Harland: 13th Floor (2018, 13th Floor): [r]: B+(*)
- Stefon Harris + Blackout: Sonic Creed (2017 , Motéma): [r]: B-
- Ingrid Jensen/Steve Treseler: Invisible Sounds: For Kenny Wheeler (2018, Whirlwind): [r]: B+(***)
- Jessice Lurie: Long Haul (2017, Chant): [r]: B+(**)
- Masta Ace & Marco Polo: A Breukelen Story (2018, Fat Beats): [bc]: B+(***)
- Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet: Polka (2018, Whirlwind): [r]: A-
- Onyx Collective: Lower East Suite Part One (2017, Big Dada, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Onyx Collective: Lower East Suite Part One (2017, Big Dada, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Onyx Collective: Lower East Suite Part Three (2018, Big Dada): [r]: B+(***)
- Chris Pitsiokos/Susana Santos Silva/Torbjörn Zetterberg: Child of Illusion (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- Rosalía: El Mal Querer (2018, Sony Music): [r]: B
- Akira Sakata & Chikamorachi With Masahiko Satoh: Proton Pump (2015 , Family Vineyard): [r]: B+(***)
- Akira Sakata/Simon Nabatov/Takashi Seo/Darren Moore: Not Seeing Is a Flower (2017 , Leo): [r]: B+(**)
- Josh Sinton's Predicate Trio: Making Bones, Taking Draughts, Bearing Unstable Millstones Pridefully, Idiotically, Prosaically (2018, Iluso): [bc]: B+(**)
- Tirzah: Devotion (2018, Domino): [r]: B+(**)
- Turbamulta: Turbamulta (2018, Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- Chucho Valdés: Jazz Batá 2 (2018, Mack Avenue): [r]; B+(***)
- Voicehandler: Light From Another Light (2017 , Humbler): [cd]: B+(*)
- Walking Distance: Freebird by Walking Distance feat. Jason Moran (2018, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(***)
- Aida Bird Wolfe: Birdie (2018, self-released): [cd]: B+(***)
- Z-Country Paradise: Live in Lisbon (2016 , Leo): [r]: A-
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Joan Jett: Bad Reputation [Music From the Original Motion Picture] (1976-2016 , Legacy): [r]: A-
- L7: Wireless (1992 , Easy Action): [r]: B+(***)
- L7: Fast and Frightening (1990-98 , Easy Action, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
Old music rated this week:
- L7: Slap-Happy (1999, Bong Load): [r]: B+(**)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week: no music albums, but
let's list some recent music books:
- Robert Christgau: Is It Still Good to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism 1967-2017 (paperback, 2018, Duke University Press)
- John Corbett: Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium (paperback, 2017, Duke University Press)
- Tom Smucker: Why the Beachboys Matter (paperback, 2018, University of Texas Press)
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Music: current count 30736  rated (+44), 264  unrated (-7).
Got so jammed up Monday I didn't get a word of this written on
its appointed day, but I did manage to move the records from the
scratch file and start on next week while I was falling behind.
One task was to format Robert Christgau's latest
question and answer session, which came out in the wee hours of
Tuesday morning. Another was counting ballots for the 13th Annual
Jazz Critics Poll (56 in at present, deadline Sunday, December 9,
7pm). I can't show you any of that, but I've also been counting
EOY lists for my
EOY Aggregate, which
you can track the progress of. Although lists started to appear
before Thanksgiving, there wasn't much until December 1 (or the
It occurs to me I should probably nail down my Jazz ballot now,
rather than wait for the end of the week. Of course,
my real list remains
subject to change. If the past is any guide, I'll probably find
a new A- record within 2-3 days, and something to nudge into the
ballot territory in 10-15 days.
- Joakim Milder/Fredrik Ljungkvist/Mathias Landraeus/Filip Augustson/Fredrik Rundkvist: The Music of Anders Garstedt (Moserobie)
- Peter Kuhn Trio: Intention (FMR)
- Kira Kira: Bright Force (Libra)
- Rich Halley 3: The Literature (Pine Eagle)
- Rodrigo Amado: A History of Nothing (Trost)
- James Brandon Lewis/Chad Taylor: Radiant Imprints (OFF) **
- Sons of Kemet: Your Queen Is a Reptile (Impulse!) **
- Henry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg: Dirt . . . and More Dirt (Pi)
- Kevin Sun: Trio (Ectomorph Music)
- Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Awase (ECM) **
- Martin Küchen & Landaeus Trio: Vinyl (2013-14, Moserobie)
- Alexander Von Schlippenbach/Aki Takase: Live at Café Amores (1995, NoBusiness)
- Art Pepper: Unreleased Art Pepper Vol. 10: Toronto (1977, Widow's Taste, 3CD)
- Fred Hersch: Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard (Palmetto)
- Benjamin Boone/Philip Levine: The Poetry of Jazz (Origin)
- Kevin Sun: Trio (Ectomorph Music)
- David Virelles: Igbó Alákorin (The Singer's Groove) Vol I & II (Pi)
You may notice that the Reissues/Historical list doesn't match the
EOY file. I decided to only include records that I have physical copies
of -- partly to credit the few good publicist who actually still send
me eligible records, and partly because some of the records on the
current list (like the expanded Sonny Rollins Way Out West and
the reduced Anthony Braxton Quartet (Willisau) 1991 Studio)
are items I was already pretty familiar with. Also, note that only
three Reissue/Historical albums will be counted. I went to four in
case the judge decides that the Küchen album is too recent (although
it is literally a reissue of recent vinyl releases).
[PS: I finally decided to treat Küchen/Landaeus as new and slot it
at number 10, bumping Nik Bärtsch's Ronin from the top ten. So, turns
out my blog-posted ballot didn't last 30 minutes before I had a change
Streamnotes (November 2018)
last Friday, so most of this week's batch of newly rated records got
written up there. I added one more jazz A- in the two days after
Streamnotes (Flavio Zanuttini), and I've actually added one more in
the two days between when I ended last week and as I'm writing now
(Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet's Polka). My current division of
A-lists is 53 Jazz vs. 47
Non-Jazz, so it's
tilted a bit toward jazz over the last couple weeks.
I was hoping to get a couple of technical things set up so I
could announce them this week, but didn't get around to doing the
I plan on setting up an RSS feed, like I did for Robert Christgau's
website. Same idea:
manually manage a list of new/updated files (checking against a
time-sorted list of files), and write a bit of code to format that
list as RSS 2.0. This could just include the faux blog files --
that's certainly the piece that needs RSS exposure. Shouldn't take
more than a couple hours to set up at this point.
I want to add a question-and-answer feature, like I did for
Robert Christgau with XgauSez. It will take a couple hours to set
up a special email account, add the captcha code, port the question
form and the Q&A reader, and add some links. I'd also like to
add some new features, like a keyword search.
I want to set up an email list (based on GNU Mailman) for
people who would like to offer advice (technical but also user)
on my various website projects (especially
tomhull.com, and a future music
website, to be hosted at
often found myself wishing I could tap into a pool of technical help,
as well as to get comments on user design questions, especially as I
undertake development projects, like the recent RSS feeds, and more
importantly a redesign of the Christgau website. I expect this to be
set up shortly after I post this, but it will (at least for the time
being) be a private list, so if you want to join (to participate or
maybe just to lurk) please send me
email. Most likely I will subscribe
you then, and you will receive email with an account password (which
you can change). You can use your password to change your options
(such as to elect to receive a daily digest instead of every email
message as it's sent), or to unsubscribe. You may also at any time
ask me to unsubscribe you.
So, one (mostly) down. The others shouldn't be too hard to get
working in the next week. Also managed to get a stub set up over
at Terminal Zone, so I can start hanging things there. Still, most
of this coming week will go to tabulating ballots and collecting
lists. I guess the latter qualifies as my favorite waste of time.
At some point I need to stop and get onto other work, but for now,
'tis the season for it.
New records rated this week:
- Juhani Aaltonen/Raoul Björkenheim: Awakening (2016 , Eclipse): [r]: B+(**)
- Tom Abbs & Frequency Response: Hawthorne (2018, Engine Studios): [r]: B+(***)
- Anderson .Paak: Oxnard (2018, Aftermath/12 Tone Music): [r]: A-
- Brom: Sunstroke (2017 , Trost): [bc]: B+(**)
- Peter Brötzmann/Heather Leigh: Sparrow Nights (2018, Trost): [bc]: B+(*)
- Dustin Carlson: Air Ceremony (2017 , Out of Your Head): [cd]: B+(**)
- Neneh Cherry: Broken Politics (2018, Smalltown Supersound): [r]: B+(***)
- Chicago Edge Ensemble: Insidious Anthem (2018, Trost): [bc]: B+(***)
- Lando Chill: Black Ego (2018, Mello Music Group): [r]: B+(*)
- Zack Clarke: Mesophase (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- Collective Order: Collective Order Vol. 3 (2018, self-released): [cd]: B
- Francesco Cusa & the Assassins Meets Duccio Bertini: Black Poker (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- Drone Trio [Evelyn Davis/Fred Frith/Phillip Greenlief]: Lantskap Logic (2013 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- James Francies: Flight (2018, Blue Note): [r]: B
- Full Blast: Rio (2016 , Trost): [bc]: B+(***)
- Marquis Hill: Modern Flows Vol. 2 (2018, Black Unlimited Music Group): [r]: B
- Khruangbin: Con Todo El Mundo (2018, Dead Oceans): [r]: B+(*)
- Frank Kimbrough: Monk's Dreams: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Sphere Monk (2017 , Sunnyside, 6CD): [r]: A-
- Roy Kinsey: Blackie: A Story by Roy Kinsey (2018, Not Normal): [bc]: B+(***)
- Simone Kopmajer: Spotlight on Jazz (2018, Lucky Mojo): [cd]: B+(**)
- Andrew Lamb Trio: The Casbah of Love (2018, Birdwatcher): [r]: B+(**)
- Low: Double Negative (2018, Sub Pop): [r]: B+(*)
- Kirk Knuffke/Steven Herring: Witness (2017 , SteepleChase): [r]: B
- Thomas Marriott: Romance Language (2017 , Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
- Joakim Milder/Fredrik Ljungkvist/Mathias Landraeus/Filip Augustson/Fredrik Rundkvist: The Music of Anders Garstedt (2016 , Moserobie): [cd]: A
- Father John Misty: God's Favorite Customer (2018, Sub Pop): [r]: B
- Fredrik Nordström: Needs (2018, Clean Feed): [r]: B+(***)
- Miles Okazaki: Work: The Complete Compositions of Thelonios Monk (2018, self-released, 6CD): [bc]: B+(***)
- Caterina Palazzi/Sudoku Killer: Asperger (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(***)
- Charlie Porter: Charlie Porter (2018, Porter House): [r]: B+(*)
- Quoan [Brian Walsh/Daniel Rosenboom/Sam Minaie/Mark Ferber]: Fine Dining (2017 , Orenda): [r]: B+(**)
- Ernesto Rodrigues/Guilherme Rodrigues/Bruno Parrinha/Luís Lopes/Vasco Trillo: Lithos (2017 , Creative Sources): [cd]: B+(**)
- Renee Rosnes: Beloved of the Sky (2017 , Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(**)
- John Scofield: Combo 66 (2018, Verve): [r]: B+(**)
- Sleep: The Sciences (2018, Third Man): [r]: B+(*)
- Marcus Strickland Twi-Life: People of the Sun (2018, Blue Note): [r]: B
- Trio Heinz Herbert: Yes (2018, Intakt): [cd]: B+(***)
- The Way Ahead: Bells Ghosts and Other Saints (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- Mars Williams: Mars Williams Presents an Ayler Xmas (2017, Soul What): [bc]: B+(***)
- Mars Williams: Mars Williams Presents an Ayler Xmas: Volume 2 (2018, Soul What): [bc]: B+(**)
- Yoko Yamaoka: Diary 2005-2015: Yuko Yamaoka Plays the Music of Satoko Fujii (2018, Libra, 2CD): [cd]: B+(**)
- Flavio Zanuttini Opacipapa: Born Baby Born (2018, Clean Feed): [r]: A-
Old music rated this week:
- Boneshaker: Unusual Words (2012 , Soul What): [bc]: B+(***)
- Billie Holiday: Songs for Distingué Lovers (1957 , Verve): [r]: A-
- Terry Pollard: Terry Pollard (1955, Bethlehem): [r]: B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Sam Broverman: A Jewish Boy's Christmas (Brovermusic)
- Scheen Jazzorchester/Eyolf Dale: Commuter Report (Losen)
Sunday, December 2, 2018
Any week since Trump became president, spend a day or two and you'll
come up with a fairly long list of pieces worth citing, and the sense
that you're still missing much of what is going on. For instance, my
usual sources on Israel/Palestine have yet to catch up with this:
Josef Federman: Israeli Police Recommend Indicting Netanyahu on Bribery
Charges. Seems like that should be at least as big a story as
Putin and Saudi crown prince high-five at G20 summit. But this
is all I came up with for the week.
I probably should have written standalone pieces on GWH Bush and on
Jill Lepore's These Truths, but wound up squeezing some notes
here for future reference. Under Bush, I wondered how many articles I'd
have to read -- critical as well as polite or even adulatory -- before
someone would bring up what I regard as the critical juncture in his
period as president: his invasion of Panama. I lost track, but in 20-30
pieces I looked at, none broached the topic. I had to search specifically
before I came up with this one:
Greg Grandin: How the Iraq War Began in Panama. When Bush became
president, people still talked about a "Vietnam syndrome" which inhibited
American politicians and their generals from starting foreign wars. Bush
is generally credited as having "kicked the Vietnam syndrome," with two
aggressive wars, first in Panama, then in Iraq. Bush and the media
conspired to paint those wars as glorious successes, the glow from
which enabled Clinton, Bush II, and Obama to launch many more wars:
Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq (again), Syria, as well as
dozens of more marginal operations. Woodrow Wilson once claimed to
be fighting "a war to end all wars." Bush's legacy was more modest:
a war to kindle many more wars.
Oddly enough, the story below that links up most directly to Bush's
legacy of war is the one about the increasing rate of premature deaths
(suicides and overdoses). That's what you get from decades of nearly
continuous war since Bush invaded Panama in 1989. The other contributing
factor has been increasing income inequality, which has followed a straight
line ever since 1981, when the Reagan/Bush administration slashed taxes on
Recently, we've seen many naive people praise Bush for, basically, not
being as flat-out awful as his Republican successors. They've done this
without giving the least thought to how we got to where we are now. The
least they could do is check out Kevin Phillips' 2004 book: American
Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House
Some scattered links this week:
Matthew Yglesias: President George H.W. Bush dies at 94: First line
here took me aback: "George H.W. Bush was a genuinely excellent president
responsible for historic achievements that are often overlooked because
of the arbitrary way we value presidential legacies." Indeed, my first
reaction was to look up how old Yglesias was when Bush was president: 7
when Bush was elected in 1988 and took office in 1989, 11 when Bush lost
in 1992 and left office in 1993. For comparison, I was 10-13 while John
Kennedy was president, and while I remember the 1960 election and a fair
amount from that period, most of what I know about those years I learned
later. The times were different, but I suspect a similar dynamic, as we
tend to view past presidents through the prism of their successors. Bush
had the good fortune to be followed by two much worse Republicans -- his
eldest son, and now Donald Trump. Yglesias would have us believe that Bush
was "the last of the Republican pragmatists," because his successors have
been very different: basically, ideological culture warriors -- the son
sometimes tried to hide it, which in turn has helped to rehabilitate him
relative to Trump. On the other hand, what I found most striking in Bush's
career was his role in normalizing, at every step along the way, the
right-wing descent of the Republican Party. Not that he was ever my idea
of a decent, principled Republican -- and note that there actually were
some in 1966, when he was first elected to Congress -- but two changes
he made c. 1980 are indicative: when he joined the anti-abortion forces,
and when he shelved his critique of "voodoo economics" to embrace Reagan.
Those shifts were opportunistic more than pragmatic. They were moves he
could make because he was empty inside, little more than a hack serving
the class interests of his benefactors -- much like his Senator father
had done, and as his sons would do. Jack Germond liked to call him "an
empty suit." Yglesias is pretty selective about what he mentions and
what he leaves out. (Perhaps we should have an office pool on how many
Bush articles I read before anyone mentions Panama?) He does mention
the Iraq War as some kind of internationalist success, not mentioning
any connection to the thirty years of recurring chaos and conflict that
ensued. On the other hand, he doesn't mention two generally positive
foreign policy things that happened under Bush: a fairly broad shift
to democracy (including wins by left-ish political movements) in Latin
America, and pressure on Israel to negotiate peace (leading to the Oslo
Accords, which Clinton allowed Netanyahu and Barak to undermine).
Other Bush links:
Peter Beinart: What the Tributes to George HW Bush Are Missing: "The
41st president was the last person to occupy the Oval Office whose opponents
saw him as fully legitimate." Beinart attributes that to his WASP heritage,
and to the fact that he was elected with a majority of the votes -- something
only Barack Obama has since achieved -- but it really has more to do with
the security and sensibility of the opposition. Democrats controlled Congress
when Bush was president, and saw him as someone who would work with them.
On the other hand, Republicans saw Clinton as an usurper and a threat, and
dispensed with all pretenses of bipartisanship. When Obama came in, they
simply doubled down, opting for pure obstructionism. Democrats didn't react
to Republican presidents with such venom, but both Bush and Trump entered
office after having lost the popular vote, and both pursued hard-right,
strictly partisan agendas.
Ariel Dorfman: George HW Bush thought the world belonged to his family.
How wrong he was.
Franklin Foer: The Last WASP President: Not literally true, not
figuratively either, inadvertently showing the lengths some people
have to take to come up with a hook to hang Bush on. For example:
Take his record on race. Bush comes from a Yankee tradition that prides
itself on its liberal attitudes. His father, a senator from Connecticut,
sponsored legislation desegregating schools, protecting voting rights,
and establishing an equal-employment commission. George H. W. Bush
seemed to accept this as his patrimony. At Yale, he lead a fund-raising
drive for the United Negro College Fund. When he moved to Midland, Texas,
he made a point of inviting the head of the local NAACP to his house for
dinner. As the chairman of the Harris County GOP, he put the party's
money in a black-owned bank.
Of course, the next paragraph had to bring up "the notorious Willie
Horton ad," and the following one notes:
After so accurately decrying Voodoo Economics, he joined the administration
that enshrined them. He stood by Reagan as he opposed sanctions against
South Africa's apartheid regime, and as the administration mounted a
crusade against "reverse discrimination," an effort to undo affirmative
The problem is that if the only reason you exhibit "liberal attitudes"
is for show, there's nothing to keep you from ditching them as soon as
the fashion changes. Personal aside here: I never heard of "WASP" until
I went to a college where more than half of the students were Jewish,
although I've also heard non-Jewish northeasterners use the term. It
was one of several identities I was grouped in but never thought of
myself as belonging to (including its constituent parts: white,
Anglo-Saxon, and protestant). But I picked up the term, even if it
rarely meant much to me. About the only time I've thought of it
lately was in regards to the Supreme Court. For much of American
history, the Supreme Court was exclusively a WASP club. That changed
a bit with Louis Brandeis, but remained pretty much the norm into
the 1980s. Since then Republicans have almost exclusively nominated
Catholics (including Clarence Thomas), and Democrats mostly Jews,
until at present we have six Catholics, three Jews, and no WASPS on
the Supreme Court. I suppose you could credit Bush with nominating
the last of the liberal WASP justices (David Souter) -- one of those
things that right-wing Republicans never forgave him for, even though
he clearly didn't mean to offend them. His other Supreme Court pick
Mehdi Hasan: The Ignored Legacy of George HW Bush: War Crimes, Racism,
and Obstruction of Justice: Much about Iraq, but still no mention
Laura McGann: Eight women say George HW Bush groped them. Their claims
deserve to be remembered as we assess his legacy.
Rachel Withers: George HW Bush's "Willie Horton" ad will always be the
reference point for dog whistle racism. Withers also wrote:
Trump praises George HW Bush, the president whose vision he recently
mocked (hoary picture here: note how close the Clintons and Bushes
George HW Bush's state funeral arrangements: what we know.
Other Yglesias pieces this week:
Jason Ditz: UN Confirms US Airstrike in Helmand Killed 23 Civilians:
News reports focused last week on unapologetic murderers giving each other
high-fives at the G20 summit in Argentina, but week-by-week the US proves
to be the real killing machine. Also by Ditz:
US Says SW Libya Airstrike Kills 11 al-Qaeda 'Suspects';
Observatory: US Airstrikes Kill Dozens in Eastern Syria. If you're
surprised that the US is (still) bombing in Libya, learn about AFRICOM:
Nick Turse: US Military Says It Has a "Light Footprint" in Africa. These
Documents Show a Vast Network of Bases. Back to Afghanistan, consider:
Danny Sjursen: America Is Headed for Military Defeat in Afghanistan.
Marc Fisher: Trump borrows his rhetoric -- and his view of power -- from
Bernard E Harcourt: How Trump Fuels the Fascist Right: I think this
gives him credit for deliberation that he probably doesn't deserve, but
here's the argument:
Everything about Trump's discourse -- the words he uses, the things he
is willing to say, when he says them, where, how, how many times -- is
deliberate and intended for consumption by the new right. When Trump
repeatedly accuses a reporter of "racism" for questioning him about his
embrace of the term "nationalist," he is deliberately drawing from the
toxic well of white supremacist discourse and directly addressing that
base. Trump's increasing use of the term "globalist" in interviews and
press conferences -- including to describe Jewish advisers such as Gary
Cohn or Republican opponents like the Koch brothers -- is a knowing use
of an anti-Semitic slur, in the words of the Anti-Defamation League, "a
code word for Jews." Trump's self-identification as a "nationalist,"
especially in contrast to "globalists" like George Soros, extends a hand
to white nationalists across the country. His pointed use of the term
"politically correct," especially in the context of the Muslim ban,
speaks directly to followers of far-right figures such as William Lind,
author of "What is 'Political Correctness'?"
Trump is methodically engaging in verbal assaults that throw fuel on
his political program of closed borders, nativism, social exclusion, and
punitive excess. Even his cultivated silences and failures to condemn
right-wing violence, in the fatal aftermath of the Unite the Right rally
in Charlottesville, for instance, or regarding the pipe-bombing suspect
Cesar Sayoc, communicate directly to extremists. We are watching, in real
time, a new right discourse come to define the American presidency. The
term "alt-right" is too innocuous when the new political formation we
face is, in truth, neo-fascist, white-supremacist, ultranationalist, and
counterrevolutionary. Too few Americans appear to recognize how extreme
President Trump has become -- in part because it is so disturbing to
encounter the arguments of the American and European new right.
Umair Irfan: Sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, explained.
Jen Kirby: USMCA, the new trade deal between the US, Canada, and Mexico,
explained: Not all that different from NAFTA. One thing to keep in
mind is that when it comes to trade deals, the conflicts are less between
countries than between companies and people (workers, customers, and the
governments should they be tempted to challenge the companies). Also:
Paul Krugman: When MAGA Fantasy Meets Rust Belt Reality: Posits
two possible meanings of Make America Great Again: "a promise to restore
the kind of economy we had 40 or 50 years ago -- an economy that still
offered lots of manly jobs in manufacturing and mining"; and "a promise
to return to the good old days of raw racism and sexism." Krugman argues
that the former would be an impossible task even if Trump had a clue,
which he clearly does not -- most of this piece explains why. As for the
racism/sexism, Krugman does concede that "Trump is delivering on that
promise." I think he's overly generous there: sure, Trump knows how to
be racist and sexist, but are people following his lead or resisting it,
and are they making a real difference in the world? Maybe, a little bit,
but not so much as to actually satisfy Trump's supporters.
Krugman also wrote:
The Depravity of Climate-Change Denial. I agree with most of what he
says here, but take exception to: "climate change isn't just killing people;
it may well kill civilization." That's really excessive hyperbole, the sort
of thing that lets deniers present themselves as skeptics vs. alarmists --
I read a letter in the Wichita Eagle last week that used that ploy. Even
fairly large climate shifts (say on the order of +6°C/10°F), while causing
large economic dislocations (as a first guess, North Dakota becomes Kansas,
and Kansas becomes Coahuila), are things people can readily adapt to easy
enough. Maybe overall habitability is diminished a bit (you lose land to
rising sea levels, but you gain utility from arctic lands; perhaps more
ominously, tropical diseases will spread). But unless climate change
triggers cataclysmic war, that's nothing civilization cannot handle.
I've long thought that people who think about climate change tend to
exaggerate its effects and importance, so I'm not surprised to find
the level of hysteria grow as evidence mounts and parties vested in
carbon fuel continue to thwart even modest attempts to reduce the risk.
Still, I doubt the solution is to ramp the rhetoric up to apocalyptic
German Lopez: After a mall shooting, police killed the wrong person --
and the real shooter remains at large: The mall was in Alabama.
The dead bystander was black. A follow-up article explains:
PR Lockhart: The Alabama mall shooting highlights the dangers of
owning a gun while black.
Ella Nilsen: House Democrats unveil their first bill in the majority: a
sweeping anti-corruption proposal: To be introduced as House Resolution
1, no chance of passing the Republican Senate let alone of overriding a
Trump veto, but this stakes out high ground from which to investigate
and judge the most thoroughly corrupt administration in US history. Also:
Akela Lacy: In Democrats' First Bill, There's a Quiet Push to Make Public
Campaign Finance a Reality.
David Roberts: I'm an environmental journalist, but I never write about
overpopulation. Here's why.
Jennifer Rubin: Trump has done nothing for rural Americans.
Aaron Rupar: Michael Cohen's plea deal shows that Russia did have something
Other links on Cohen:
Dylan Scott: Under Trump, the number of uninsured kids is suddenly
rising. Note that the chart shows a steady decrease in number
of uninsured children from 2008 through 2016, before the rise in
Dylan Scott: Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith wins Mississippi Senate
election: Duly noted, by a 54-46% margin. You know why. Still,
that's a lot closer than Mississippi split since, uh, the 1870s.
For more, see:
Bob Moser: Don't Hate Mississippi:
It's never a shock to see white Mississippians cover themselves in shame.
They've been doing it reliably throughout the entire history of a place
that became known as the "lynching state" long before the inceptions of
the Confederacy, the Klan, or Jim Crow. . . . In politics, too, white
Mississippians have always put passion -- for white supremacy and black
subjugation -- above all pragmatic considerations. With clockwork
regularity, every election, they've chosen to keep their state an
economic and educational backwater, an international symbol of America's
Emily Stewart: GM is closing plants and cutting jobs. Here's what it
means for workers -- and for Trump.
Julissa Trevińo: Suicides are at the highest rate in decades, CDC report
shows: Up 33 percent since 1999, up 2000 from 2016 to 2017, something
which gets less press than the number of drug overdoses, which has surged
to even higher levels. On the latter, see:
German Lopez: Drug overdose deaths were so bad in 2017, they reduced overall
life expectancy. Also see:
Lenny Bernstein: US life expectancy declines again, a dismal trend not
seen since World War I.
Alex Ward: Russia just openly attacked Ukraine. That could mean their
war will get worse. Like virtually all western reports, this is
rather slanted, but the crisis is significant. Basic background: after
anti-Russian, pro-West political factions in Ukraine affected a coup
in 2014, removing a more/less democratically elected Russia-friendly
president, several regions of Ukraine with large Russian demographics
revolted, especially Crimea and Donbass. Russia encouraged (and perhaps
orchestrated) these revolts, including a declaration by local officials
in Crimea of their intent to be annexed by Russia. There was a vote in
Crimea to join Russia, which was boycotted by opponents, so carried by
a large margin. Crimea has been under Russian control since then, and
the ties were made literal by the construction of a 12-mile bridge over
the Kerch Strait between Russia and Crimea. Since 2014, there has been
sporadic and indecisive fighting in Donbass and along the border, and
Ukraine (and its Western allies) has refused to recognize any changes.
The Kerch Strait separates the Sea of Azov from the Black Sea and the
Mediterranean, so it remains an important shipping lane for Ukraine, as
well as for Russia. With the opening of the bridge, Ukraine attempted
to reassert its rights to send naval ships through the Kerch Strait,
and Russia responded by blockading the channel, seizing the ships, and
imprisoning the sailors: that's what "openly attacked" means in the
headline above. Russia charged Ukraine with a "well-thought-out
provocation." For a counter view, see:
Ted Galen Carpenter: Ukraine Doesn't Deserve America's Blind Support.
Julian E Zelizer: Why the US Can't Solve Big Problems.
The federal government released a devastating report last week documenting
the immense economic and human cost that the U.S. will incur as a result
of climate change. It warns that the damage to roads alone will add up to
$21 billion by the end of the century. In certain parts of the Midwest,
farms will produce 75 percent less corn than today, while ocean acidification
could result in $230 billion in financial losses. More people will die from
extreme temperatures and mosquito-borne diseases. Wildfire seasons will
become more frequent and more destructive. Tens of millions of people living
near rising oceans will be forced to resettle. The findings put the country
on notice, once again, that doing nothing is a recipe for disaster.
Yet odds are that the federal government will, in fact, do nothing. It's
tempting to blame inaction on current political conditions, like having a
climate change denier in the White House or intense partisan polarization
in Washington. But the unfortunate reality is that American politicians
have never been good at dealing with big, long-term problems. Lawmakers
have tended to act only when they had no other choice.
Finally, here are some links reviewing Jill Lepore's big book
These Truths: A History of the United States (recently read by
The Wilentz piece is probably the best of the bunch -- at least I found
myself agreeing with most of the substantive criticisms. It occurs to me
that there are two basic models for writing a 700+ page history of the US
from colonial times to Donald Trump: either briefly sum up most of the
stuff most people already know, or assume that readers already know that
stuff and add little side-glances they don't know that help round out the
picture. Lepore did the latter, and included a lot of material I didn't
especially know before. She also limited her focus to the ebb and flow of
ideals, corruptions, and manipulations in politics. I was surprised, for
instance, that from the 1930s on she focused mostly on the development of
polling and campaign management, which sort of logically led to Trump --
she actually gets to Trump before 2000, Bush-Gore, and Obama. But even
earlier, she spent a good deal of time on the rise of the partisan press
c. 1800, and the shift toward non-partisan journalism from the 1880s on
(papers like the New York Times, and later the big three TV networks).
Worth reading, but not for many clear lessons. A much more pointed book
on founders and ideals is Ganesh Sitaraman's The Crisis of the
Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our
Republic. But then I suppose she'd reply that history is always
messy, never cut and dried.
One more point to make: These Truths differs from most US
history books in that Lepore makes a conscious effort to recognize
and treat fairly everyone -- not just the dominant white males that
traditionally get all the pages. She balances off natives against
colonizers, slaves against slaveholders, women against men, and (to
a lesser extent) laborers against captains of industry. She writes
as much about Jane Franklin as her brother Ben, and as much about
Harry Washington as his one-time owner George. She writes way too
much about Phyllis Schlafly (but also Donald Trump, who probably
wouldn't have garnered a mention had she finished the book three
Friday, November 30, 2018
Streamnotes (November 2018)
Starting to sift through and sort out EOY lists, including my own
I've also started to compile this year's
EOY Aggregate list.
Not enough lists yet for the latter to be of much use.
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, usually based on one or two plays, accumulated
since my last post along these lines, back on October 31. Past reviews
and more information are available
here (12132 records).
Juhani Aaltonen/Raoul Björkenheim: Awakening (2016
, Eclipse): Two of Finland's most famous jazz musicians, the
former established himself as a tenor saxophonist in the late 1970s,
the latter as an electric guitarist in the 1990s. Duo here, opting
for softer instruments -- flute vs. 6- or 12-string guitar or viola
da gamba -- not that they roll over and play nice. I'm not much of
a flute fan, but nothing here makes me regret the times I've voted
for him in polls.
Ambrose Akinmusire: Origami Harvest (2018, Blue Note):
Trumpet player, from Oakland, major label has given him a big profile
and encouraged him to break new ground, attempting here a novel mix of
chamber jazz and hip-hop -- most songs have lyrics from Victor Vasquez
(Kool A.D.), one from Terrard Robinson (LMBR-JCK T). Reminds me how
after dragging my feet what finally sold me on hip-hop was the beats,
mostly because they're so slack here: Marcus Gilmore programs as well
as drums, but the music is mostly plain strings (MIVOS Quartet).
Joey Alexander: Joey. Monk. Live! (2017, Motéma):
Pianist, from Bali, Indonesia, father named Denny Sila, dropping
the patronymic name seems to be common there. Third album, cut at
Lincoln Center shortly before he turned 14. I'm not easily impressed
by prodigies, but his first album was a pleasant surprise, helped
more than a little by adults on bass and drums. Scott Colley and
Willie Jones III fill that role here, after opening with a solo
Joey Alexander: Eclipse (2017 , Motéma): Fourth
album, eight trio tracks with Reuben Rogers on bass and Eric Harland
on drums, plus three with Joshua Redman on tenor sax. The latter are
quite nice, especially the opener ("Bali"). Not my idea of a great
pianist, but technically he's very solid.
Amu: Weave (2018, Libra, CD+DVD): Part of pianist
Satoko Fujii's album-per-month 60th birthday celebration, a trio with
Natsuki Tamura (trumpet) and Takashi Itani (drums) plus "percussive
dancer" Mizuki Wildenhahn -- although not percussive enough to make
much of an impression on the CD. She does fare better on the DVD (if
you're into that sort of thing), at least filling in some of the
otherwise unintelligible stretches. Also helps when the piano and/or
trumpet explode, although not by changing the video focus.
Anderson .Paak: Oxnard (2018, Aftermath/12 Tone Music):
Working his way up the California coastline, perhaps on his way to Big
Sur to complete his transformation into hippiedom (or underground literary
renown). I haven't sorted this all out -- doubt I ever will -- but it's
as fetching as his previous one.
Ethan Ardelli: The Island of Form (2018, self-released):
Drummer-composer, from Nova Scotia, based in Toronto, first album, an
alto sax quartet featuring Luis Deniz, with Chris Donnelly (piano) and
Devon Henderson (bass). Lovely tone on the alto, nice flow throughout
with just enough tension to keep it interesting.
Mandy Barnett: Strange Conversation (2018, Dame
Productions/Thirty Tigers): Country singer, first claim to fame came
in 1995 when she starred in a Patsy Cline tribute, but didn't follow
up her superb 1998 I've Got a Right to Cry until 2011, and this
is the first I've noticed in 20 years. Covers of pop obscurities, most
terrific -- my pick is the doo-wop of "It's All Right (You're Just in
Love)," originally by the Tams. Christgau's favorite is a rockabilly
piece called "The Fool." The only one I immediately recognized was
from Sonny & Cher. Archivalism on a par with prime Ry Cooder.
Pat Bianchi: In the Moment (2018, Savant): Organ
player, seems like he's been around a while but he's only 42, just
a couple albums under his own name. Trio with Paul Bollenback (guitar)
and Byron Landham (drums) plus various guests: Peter Bernstein, Carmen
Intorre Jr., Joe locke, Kevin Mahogany, Pat Martino.
Big Bold Back Bone: Emerge (2015 , Wide Ear):
Jazztronica group, I guess: Marco von Orelli (trumpet/slide trumpet),
Luis Lopes (electric guitar and objects), Travassos (electronics),
Sheldon Suter (prepared drums). Scattered sounds, improvised without
BROM: Sunstroke (2017 , Trost): Russian avant
sax trio -- Anton Ponomarev (tenor sax), Dmitry Lapshin (electric
bass), Yaroslav Kurillo (drums) -- started around 2008 (first two),
sax shows a strong Brötzmann/Gustafsson influence, but the bassist
rocks. Probably too tricky for metalheads and noise freaks, but up
Magnus Broo Trio: Rules (2017 , Moserobie):
Swedish trumpet player, best known in groups like Atomic and the
Godforgottens and side-credits, but recorded four quartet albums
1999-2008. This frames him nicely in a trio with Ingebrigt Hĺker
Flaten on bass and Hĺken Mjĺset Johanson on drums, relatively
short at 35:11.
Bobby Broom & the Organi-sation: Soul Fingers
(2018, MRi): Guitarist, group is a trio with Ben Paterson on organ
and Kobie Watkins on drums, plus you get the occasional guest.
Mostly chintzy pop trifles ("Come Together," "Ode to Billie Joe,"
"Do It Again," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Summer Breeze,"
etc.): problem with such tunes is that they inevitably taste of
Muzak, not that this isn't a cut above that.
Peter Brötzmann/Heather Leigh: Sparrow Nights (2018,
Trost): Leigh plays pedal steel guitar; Brötzmann credit reads:
"b-flat/bass/contra-alto clarinet, alto/tenor/bass saxophone."
Duo has recorded several albums since 2015, but never struck me
as an especially good fit. The extra range of horns helps.
Don Byron/Aruán Ortiz: Random Dances and (A)tonalities
(2017 , Impakt): Duets, clarinet/saxophone and piano, the latter
from Cuba with a strong run of recent records (mostly trios), the former
an instant star on jazz clarinet with his 1992 debut but hasn't led an
album since his 2006 Jr. Walker tribute. Patient listening here, an
even match which doesn't blow you away but is always interesting.
Francesco Cafiso Nonet: We Play for Tips (2017 ,
EFLAT/Inciipt): Alto saxophonist, from Italy, was 12 in 2001 when he
cut his first record. Two trumpets, trombone, three saxes (each also
on a clarinet or flute), piano-bass-drums.
Rosanne Cash: She Remembers Everything (2018, Blue Note):
Singer-songwriter, born into country music but retains little beyond a
basic naturalism and an eye for detail. Good songs here. Also perks for
Elvis Costello and Kris Kristofferson.
Annie Chen Octet: Secret Treetop (2018, Shanghai Audio
& Video): Chinese singer-songwriter, born in Beijing but based in
New York, nominally jazz although I hear more affinity to light opera.
The singer is counted in an octet with trumpet, alto sax, piano (Glenn
Zaleski), guitar, violin, bass, drums.
Neneh Cherry: Broken Politics (2018, Smalltown Supersound):
Afro-Swedish singer, original surname Karlsson, mother married trumpet
player Don Cherry, grew up in US and UK, sang in punk bands including
the Slits, recorded two brilliant hip-hop albums 1989-92, then nothing
until The Cherry Thing (with Norwegian avant-jazz trio Thing) in
2012. This one is produced by Kieran Hebden (dba Four Tet), electronics
that sneak up and grow on you.
Chicago Edge Ensemble: Insidious Anthem (2018, Trost):
Chicago avant quintet, I figure guitarist Dan Phillips for the leader,
with two Vandermark 5 founders -- Mars Williams (saxophones) and Jeb
Bishop (trombone) -- Krzysztof Pabian on bass and Hamid Drake on drums.
Often terrific, but stumbles here and there.
Lando Chill: Black Ego (2018, Mello Music Group):
Rapper, "equal parts west coast funk and deert trip-hop," clever
music obscured the lyrics at first, then got a bit too clever as
I lost my way.
The Chills: Snow Bound (2018, Fire): Pop rockers from
New Zealand, principally Martin Phillipps, started around 1980, peaked
with two 1990-92 albums, split up, regrouped, lost more than a decade
before coming back in 2013, 2015, and here. Unmistakable sound, just
not as struck by the songs here as last time (Silver Bullets).
Eric Church: Desperate Man (2018, EMI Nashville):
Country singer-songwriter, seemed headed for rock stardom a few years
back, sporting one of the loudest bands in Nashville. Dials it back
a bit here, giving the songs more air and resonance, leaning toward
Steve Earle territory. Happy to hear more of that.
Richie Cole: Cannonball (2018, RCP): Alto saxophonist,
started recording in 1976, prolific through the 1980s, slowed down later
but never skipped more than five years, and has rebounded a bit lately.
Back cover lists a sextet here, with trombone (Reggie Watkins) the other
horn, plus guitar, piano, bass, and drums, swinging through Cannonball
Adderley's songbook, but this sometimes sounds more like a big band --
indeed, the notes inside list additional musicians, including singer
Denia on two cuts.
Collective Order: Collective Order Vol. 3 (2018,
self-released): Toronto outfit, 21 members listed, no idea of the
internal dynamics and relationships, probably because it's too
much work to care at this distance. I will say too many vocals.
Also that I did hear some interesting music, but no longer recall
where or when.
The Chick Corea + Steve Gadd Band: Chinese Butterfly
(2017 , Stretch/Concord, 2CD): Piano and drums for the leaders,
the drummer four years younger -- they played together as far back as
1976 (My Spanish Heart), reunited in 2006's Super Trio
(with Christian McBride). With Steve Wilson (sax/flute), Lionel Loueke
(guitar), Luisito Quintero (percussion), and Philip Bailey (vocals,
featured on one track but present elsewhere). Voted Jazz Album of the
Year by Downbeat readers, doesn't strike me as offering much
beyond pleasant background groove.
Roxy Coss: The Future Is Female (2018, Posi-Tone):
Tenor saxophonist (also plays bass clarinet), originally from Seattle,
now New York, fourth album, postbop quintet with guitar (Alex Wintz),
piano (Miki Yamanaka), bass and drums. Woke titles, the guitar often
stealing solo space, the sax more engaging, but rather thick and slick.
Mario Costa: Oxy Patina (2017 , Clean Feed):
Portuguese drummer-composer, debut album, with Marc Ducret (guitar)
and Benoît Delbecq (piano) -- both formidable musicians.
Andrew Cyrille: Lebroba (2017 , ECM): Legendary
drummer, with even bigger names just below the title: Wadada Leo Smith
(trumpet) and Bill Frisell (guitar). All three contribute pieces (Smith's
by far the longest): abstract, scattered, often evocative, but nothing
much in the way of flow.
Josephine Davies: Satori (2016 , Whirlwind):
British saxophonist, photos show tenor but I'm also hearing soprano,
leads a trio with Dave Whitford (bass) and Paul Clarvis (drums),
live at Iklectik in London. I may be a sucker for sax trios, but
only if they're as consistently on point at this one is.
Josephine Davies' Satori: In the Corners of Clouds
(2018, Whirlwind): Tenor sax trio again, same bassist (Dave Whitford),
new drummer (James Madden). Pretty much the same sound and dynamics
as on her group-defining Satori.
Doctor Nativo: Guatemaya (2018, Stonetree): From
Guatemala, first album, Christgau noted a rhythmic likeness to Manu
Chao (which was enough to get me interested). Roger that, although
he's less cosmopolitan and more rooted in cumbia, namechecked with
some frequency here.
David Dominique: Mask (2018, Orenda): Credited with
"flugabone and voices," claims Mingus as a "major influence," but also
Zappa -- neither occurred to me, but the latter explains a lot. With
three saxophonists, viola, guitar, bass, and drums.
Kaja Draksler/Petter Eldh/Christian Lillinger: Punkt. Vrt.
Plastik (2016 , Intakt): Piano trio, the pianist from
Slovenia, bassist Swedish, drummer German. Hard to say what makes
this one of the year's finest piano trio albums: maybe inner strength,
which gives her unpredictable moves an air of destiny. An attentive
rhythm section helps, too.
Open Mike Eagle: What Happens When I Try to Relax
(2018, Auto Reverse, EP): Rapper, underground, points out "some people
are dummies but I'm intellectual"; true that, but he doesn't separate
himself from the dummies. Six cuts, 19:41.
Kurt Elling: The Questions (2017 , Okeh): Jazz
singer, used to do lots of fancy inflections and such that I never much
cared for. Lately, seems to have lost his shtick as well as his voice,
leaving rather little.
John Escreet: Learn to Live (2018, Blue Room):
Pianist, half-dozen albums so far, opens with electric keyboard
here, adding trumpet (Nicholas Payton), sax (Greg Osby), bass,
and two drummers for fusion groove -- sometimes packed with
tension, sometimes cheesy.
The Gil Evans Orchestra: Hidden Treasures Monday Nights: Volume
One (2016-17 , Bopper Spock Suns Music): Produced by Noah
Evans, co-produced by Miles Evans (trumpet), executive producer Anita
Evans, core band has 10 members, 15 more guests here and there, most
fairly famous, I count 13 in the inside jacket picture. Closes with two
Gil Evans pieces, after five from five others (including one by Miles
Evans). No doubt where the ideas come from, but little memorable ensues.
Marianne Faithfull: Negative Capability (2018, BMG):
Past 70 now, if you thought her voice was shot a decade ago, you
should hear her now -- starting excruciatingly rough, gradually
gaining hard-earned grandeur. Many songs are familiar, including
her Nth "As Tears Go By" and a particularly affecting "Witches Song"
(from her masterpiece, Broken English). Nick Cave and Ed
Harcourt contribute songs and help out. "No Moon in Paris" is such
a perfect closer you forgo the extra "Deluxe Edition" cuts.
Alan Ferber Big Band: Jigsaw (2016 , Sunnyside):
Trombonist, has often worked in large groups and goes whole hog here,
with a conventional 17-piece big band -- mostly name players, working
in New York, including some crack soloists. Ferber's pieces, with a
little Latin tinge.
Birgitta Flick Quartet: Color Studies (2018, Double
Moon): Tenor saxophonist, based in Berlin, two previous Quartet albums,
also two with her Flickstick group, and a duo with Carol Liebowitz
(below). With piano (Andreas Schmidt), bass (James Banner), and drums
Michael Formanek Elusion Quartet: Time Like This
(2018, Intakt): Bassist, an important figure and leader since 1990.
Quartet with Tony Malaby (tenor/soprano sax), Kris Davis (piano),
and Ches Smith (drums/vibes/Haitian tambou) -- stars in their own
right, but here they shape their efforts to add color and (rarely)
spice to the bassist's compositions.
James Francies: Flight (2018, Blue Note): Young
pianist (23), from Houston, based in New York, first album. Derrick
Hodge produced, throwing a lot of flash and muscle his way: Chris
Potter sax, Mike Moreno guitar, vibes, two drummers, "three uniquely
powerful singers . . . highlight one track apiece." The singers
aren't the only problem here, but they detract from whatever jazz
promise he had. Hope he escapes soon. Also hope he retains Potter's
Gabriela Friedli Trio: Areas (2015 , Leo):
Swiss pianist, second trio album with Daniel Studer (bass) and
Dieter Ulrich (drums). Rigorously avant, keeps you off guard.
David Friesen: My Faith, My Life (2017-18 ,
Origin, 2CD): Best known as a bassist, also a composer of notes,
has headlined albums since 1976, summing up his career here with
one disc of solo bass, a second of solo piano. Easily proficient
at the latter, but I prefer the bass work, spiced with a bit of
Full Blast: Rio (2016 , Trost): Avant sax
trio -- Peter Brötzmann credited with reeds, Marino Pliakis "E-Bass,"
Michael Wertmüller drums -- recorded live in Brazil but otherwise
making no concessions to their hosts. Group name from their 2009
album. Not quite as full a blast as expected: maybe Brötzmann is
mellowing a bit at 75, or maybe my ears are finally adjusting.
Aaron Goldberg: At the Edge of the World (2016 ,
Sunnyside): Pianist, originally from Boston, records start in 1999, trio
here, with Matt Penman on bass and Leon Parker on drums and "vocal
percussion" -- playing this after Amu made me think of tap.
Randy Halberstadt: Open Heart (2018, Origin): Pianist,
from Seattle, previous albums date back to 1991. Septet: three horns,
vibes, piano trio, originals sprinkled with classics -- I prefer the
Gershwin to the Chopin -- some quite nice, some run on a bit.
Clay Harper: Bleak Beauty (2018, self-released):
Singer-songwriter from Atlanta, started in a group called the Coolies,
third album since 1997.
David Hazeltine: The Time Is Now (2018, Smoke Sessions):
Mainstream pianist, been around, trio with Ron Carter and Al Foster. Six
originals, some nice standards.
Claus Hřjensgĺrd/Emanuele Mariscalco/Nelide Bendello: Hřbama
(2017 , Gotta Let It Out): Trumpet/keyboards/drums trio, the
leader (and label) Danish, produced by Tomo Jacobson. Tightly wound,
relatively short (32:54).
Christopher Hollyday: Telepathy (2018, Jazzbeat
Productions): Alto saxophonist, originally from Connecticut, recorded six
albums 1985-92, moved to California in 1993, and this is his first album
in over 25 years. Classic bop quintet with trumpet (Gilbert Castellanos),
piano (Joshua White), bass and drums, doing standards and classics --
nothing more recent than Freddie Hubbard. Six tracks, 33:01, "I've Got
the World on a String" certainly does.
Homeboy Sandman & Edan: Humble Pi (2018, Stones Throw,
EP): New York underground rapper Angel Del Villar II, working with Edan
Portnoy's beats. Considers this an album, but like most of his output is
within EP range (seven tracks, 22:57).
Adam Hopkins: Crickets (2018, Out of Your Head): Bassist,
from Baltimore, based in Brooklyn, first album after a 2017 EP and
a fairly wide range of side credits (e.g., Quartet Offensive, Ideal
Bread, Dave Ballou & BeepHonk). Sextet, three saxophones (Anna
Webber, Ed Rosenberg, Josh Sinton, ranging from tenor to bass plus
bass clarinet), guitar (Jonathan Goldberger), and drums (Devin Gray).
Jason Kao Hwang Burning Bridge: Blood (2018, True Sound):
Violinist, has done a lot to incorporate traditional Chinese music into
avant-jazz. Band here includes erhu (Wang Guowei) and pipa (Sun Li), as
well as Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet), Steve Swell (trombone), Joseph Daley
(tuba), Ken Filiano (bass), and Andrew Drury (drums).
Rocco John Iacovone/Jack DeSalvo/Mark Hagan/Phil Sirois/Tom Cabrera:
Connoisseurs of Chaos IV (2018, Woodshedd): Should probably
file this under drummer Cabrera, as he's the only constant over four
volumes, or for that matter on all six tracks here: the alto saxophonist
(who usually dba Rocco John) but drops out on two tracks (a bass-drums
duo and a guitar-bass-drums trio). DeSalvo plays guitar. Hagan and Sirois
split the bass duties.
Tomo Jacobson/Maria Laurette Friis/Emanuele Maniscalco + Karlis
Auzixs: Split : Body (2016-17 , Getta Let It Out):
Originally a cassette release, the trio (bass, voice/electronics, piano)
filling one 44:08 side, the other a 40:56 soprano saxophone solo. The
first piece doesn't make much of an impression, but the solo is rather
engaging, even given the usual limits.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis: Handful
of Keys (2016 , Blue Engine): Title suggests Fats Waller
to me, but the uptown rulers opted for a more generic piano-focused
program, featuring six pianists in age from 13 (Joey Alexander) to 89
(Dick Hyman). Starts with James P. Johnson's "Jingles" (Hyman) and a
standard Waller used to play ("Lulu's Back in Town") before they move
into the modern era with pieces by Tyner, Evans, Kelly, Peterson, and
in a startling departure from their canon, Myra Melford.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis: Una Noche
Con Rubén Blades (2014 , Blue Engine): Latin night, the
big band positively bubbling with enthusiasm. The Panamanian singer, who
seemed poised to be a huge star back in the 1980s -- there was even talk
of running for president -- has settled into a steady career. Here he
slips in a couple of English-language standards with Sinatra-esque flair,
notably "Too Close for Comfort."
Jentsch Group No Net: Topics in American History
(2016 , Blue Schist): Guitarist Chris Jentsch, with a nine-piece
group conducted by JC Sanford -- flutes, clarinets, saxophones (Jason
Rigby), trumpet (David Smith), trombone (Bryan Drye), piano (Jacob
Sacks), bass, drums. Postbop, lush, a bit overgrown.
Russ Johnson: Headlands (2018, Woolgathering): Trumpet
player, quartet with Rob Clearfield (keyboards), Matt Ulery (double bass),
and Jon Deitemyer (drums).
Frank Kimbrough: Monk's Dreams: The Complete Compositions of
Thelonious Sphere Monk (2018, Sunnyside, 6CD): Seventy tracks,
not the first to tackle them all -- Alexander von Schlippenbach did
that in Monk's Casino (2005, 3CD) -- nor the only one to act on
the idea during the centennial of Monk's birth (see guitarist Miles
Okazaki's Work). With Scott Robinson (saxophone and trumpet),
Rufus Reid (bass), and Billy Drummond (drums). Way too much for me to
let it sink in, but Robinson both does a perfect Charlie Rouse but can
switch up on the horns to give you some variety. Meanwhile, the others
understand that much of Monk's appeal is rhythmic, and they're up to it.
Roy Kinsey: Blackie: A Story by Roy Kinsey (2018, Not
Normal): Chicago rapper, "fourth album but first physical offering," a
story cycle that starts in "Mississippi Mud" and migrates north, inspired
y his late grandmother.
Simone Kopmajer: Spotlight on Jazz (2018, Lucky Mojo):
Standards singer from Austria, thirteen albums since 2004, sings in
English, backed by piano, guitar, bass, drums, plus some tasty sax and
clarinet by Terry Myers, putting the spotlight on songs like "Struttin'
With Some Barbecue" and "Stompin' at the Savoy," "Mood Indigo" and
"Poinciana." Closes with a jumpier remix of "Dig That Riff."
Fredrik Kronkvist: Kronicles (2017 , Connective):
Swedish alto saxophonist, fifteen records since 2003, this a quartet
with Orrin Evans (piano), Martin Sjoset (bass), and Jeff 'Tain' Watts
(drums). Rhythm section is roiling, and the sax wants to soar.
Rich Krueger: NOWThen (2018, Rockin'K Music): Born in
New York, based in Chicago, singer-songwriter, wrote some songs back
in 1985-98 while he was training to become a doctor, then set them
aside until 2007, when he started writing new material. This combines
both early ("Then") and late ("NOW") material. Something about his
sound bothers me, but he's smart and literate and I can imagine
warming to his recent albums -- this follows one called Life Ain't
That Long -- even though I'm not quite there yet.
Ingrid Laubrock: Contemporary Chaos Practices: Two Works for
Orchestra With Soloists (2017 , Intakt): Alto saxophonist,
working with a large orchestra -- strings, a full assortment of winds,
voices (although I never seem to notice them) -- conducted by Eric
Wubbels (title piece) or Taylor Ho Bynum ("Vogelfrei"). The other
soloists are Mary Halvorson (guitar), Kris Davis (piano), and Nate
Wooley (trumpet). The huge scale is striking, the details interesting.
Lawful Citizen: Internal Combustion (2018, self-released):
Canadian quartet, led by tenor saxophonist Evan Shay (born in Seattle,
based in Montreal). First group album, with guitar (Aime Duquet), electric
bass (Antoine Pelegrim), and drums (Kyle Hutchins). Stated influences
include metal, but really they just like a little noise.
Robbie Lee & Mary Halvorson: Seed Triangular (2018,
New Amsterdam): Lee, has a couple albums, credited here with baroque
flute, 8-key flute, chalumeau [clarinet], soprillo [sax], melodica, and
bells; Halvorson with guitar and banjo.
Ravyn Lenae: Crush (2018, Atlantic, EP): Neo-soul
singer from Chicago, third EP (5 tracks, 16:33), still in her teens,
produced by Steve Lacy, a little choppy.
LFU: Lisbon Freedom Unit: Praise of Our Folly (2015
, Clean Feed): Nine-piece free jazz ensemble, Portuguese as far
as I can tell -- best known musicians here are Luis Lopes (guitar),
Rodrigo Amado (tenor sax), and all three members of RED Trio (Rodrigo
Pinheiro, Hernani Faustino, Gabriel Ferrandini). Most impressive flat
out, but when they hold back you can feel the tension build.
Carol Liebowitz/Birgitta Flick: Malita-Malika (2017
, Leo): Duets, piano and tenor saxophone, most hauntingly slow
pieces with delicate shading but nothing remotely resembling cocktail
or chamber cliché. Liebowitz also credited with voice, singing
"September in the Rain" and "You Don't Know What Love Is" -- brings
to mind Sheila Jordan, not nearly as expert but clearly an inspiration.
Chris Lightcap: Superette (2018, The Royal Potato
Family): Bassist, called a 2002 album Bigmouth and has since
used that title for a group name, switches to bass guitar here, adds
guitar (Jonathan Goldberger and Curtis Hasselbring) and drums, plus
guests John Medeski (organ) and Nels Cline (more guitar). Seems too
subtle for fusion, but develops a bit under pressure, and the surf
Lithics: Mating Surfaces (2018, Kill Rock Stars):
Portland, Oregon postpunk band, two-guitar quartet, songs tight,
guitars sound a lot like Wire, vocals only a bit less.
["abridged": 6/12 cuts]
Maisha: There Is a Place (2018, Brownswood): London
group led by drummer Jake Long, nominally a sextet -- best known is
saxophonist Nubya Garcia -- but has more credits, including a bunch
of strings, including harp.
Roc Marciano: RR2: The Bitter Dose (2018, Marci
Enterprises): Rapper Rakeem Calief Myer, with a solid sequel to
last year's Rosebudd's Revenge.
Thomas Marriott: Romance Language (2017 ,
Origin): Trumpet player, from Seattle, close to a dozen albums
since 2005, goes for ballads this time and come up with a lovely
set (but "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is a bit much). Backed by
Joe Locke (vibes), Ryan Cohan (keybs), Jeff Johnson (bass), and
John Bishop (drums).
Christian McBride: Christian McBride's New Jawn (2017
, Mack Avenue): Bassist, pretty much the top mainstream guy ever
since his major label debut in 1995, last heard fronting a big band
that did him no credit. Here he goes for the other extreme, with a
talented pianoless quartet: Josh Evans (trumpet), Marcus Strickland
(sax), and Nasheet Waits (drums). Everyone kicks in two songs, with
the closer from Wayne Shorter.
Donny McCaslin: Blow. (2018, Motéma): Tenor saxophonist,
has few peers in terms of chops, but I've rarely taken to his albums --
2006's Recommended Tools is an exception, and he can tear the
roof off other artists' albums, as he did with Art Hirahara's Sunward
Bound earlier this year. His most famous side-credit was on David
Bowie's Blackstar, and he seems to be intent here on producing
a sequel, studded with various Bowie-isms, rendered by a bunch of guest
vocalists (Mark Kozelek is the one I recognized).
Makaya McCraven: Universal Beings (2017-18 ,
International Anthem): Drummer, pieced this album together from four
sessions (each given an LP side) recorded by different groups in New
York, Chicago, London, and Los Angeles -- the rhythm a unifying thread,
whether with the softer New York instruments (harp, vibes, cello, bass)
or the horns that pop up elsewhere.
Joakim Milder/Fredrik Ljungkvist/Mathias Landraeus/Filip
Augustson/Fredrik Rundkvist: The Music of Anders Garstedt
(2016 , Moserobie): Two tenor saxes (latter also credited with
soprano and clarinet), plus piano-bass-drums. The composer was Swedish,
played trumpet, died in 2000 at age 31, didn't leave any records under
his own name, not many side credits either (one each with Fredrik Norén
and Christian Falk). The musicians claim ties to him, and bring his
music brilliantly to life.
Rhett Miller: The Messenger (2018, ATO): Singer-songwriter,
mostly with the Old 97's, but has seven solo albums since 2002. Nothing
very pop, but soft-edged and tuneful, songs that could grow on you but
won't knock you over.
Mr. Fingers: Cerebral Hemispheres (2018, Alleviated):
Chicago DJ Larry Heard, started in the 1980s (guess that makes him
house), had a group in 1988 called Fingers, Inc., released three albums
as Mr. Fingers 1988-94, returns to the alias here with a rather chill
downtempo album, brightened by bits of Zachary McElwain tenor sax.
Kyle Nasser: Persistent Fancy (2018, Ropeadope): Tenor
saxophonist (also soprano), from Massachusetts, second album, sextet
with Roman Filiu on alto sax, plus both guitar and piano as well as
bass and drums. Postbop leaning toward groove, or vice versa.
Jorge Nila: Tenor Time (Tribute to the Tenor Masters)
(2018 , Ninjazz): Tenor saxophonist, offers this "tribute to the
tenor masters" -- pieces by Dexter Gordon, Hank Mobley, Wayne Shorter,
Joe Henderson, Sonny Stitt, Harold Vick, Tadd Dameron, and, well, Stevie
Wonder. Ably backed by guitar (Dave Stryker), organ (Mitch Towne), and
drums (Dana Murray).
John O'Gallagher Trio: Live in Brooklyn (2015 ,
Whirlwind): Alto saxophonist, with Johannes Weidenmueller (bass) and
Mark Ferber (drums), coming off two excellent albums (The Anton
Webern Project and The Honeycomb). Strong performance here.
Old Man Saxon: The Pursuit (2018, Pusher, EP): Los
Angeles rapper, first song has a metalic thrash like Death Grips,
second dials it back to beats, then works within that range. Single
is called "Stop Shooting." Five tracks, 18:55.
Evan Parker/Eddie Prévost: Tools of Imagination
(2017 , Fundacja Sluchaj): Tenor sax and drums duo, although
the latter's percussion includes metallic drones as well as thumps.
One long piece (58:24), much of it rather tentative, although they
do have moments -- some that put you on edge.
William Parker: Flower in a Stained-Glass Window/The Blinking
of the Ear (2018, Centering/AUM Fidelity, 2CD): Two albums
packed together, continuing the bassist's recent interest in singers.
The first features Leena Conquest, mostly declaiming slogan-worthy
political screeds, things I mostly agree with but are mixed blessings
as music. The band -- five piece including Steve Swell on trombone,
plus two extra alto saxes on three pieces -- is quite interesting on
its own. Second is another quintet -- Swell again, Daniel Carter, Eri
Yamamoto on piano -- is if anything more potent, but I find mezzo
soprano AnnMarie Sandy harder to listen to.
Chris Pasin: Ornettiquette (2018, Piano Arts):
Trumpet player, third album, playing five Ornette Coleman tunes,
one from Ayler, two originals. Karl Berger is especially notable
on vibes and piano, along with Michael Bisio (bass), Harvey
Sorgen (drums), with Adam Siegel (alto sax) and Ingrid Sertso
(vocals) on a couple tunes.
Hanna Paulsberg Concept & Magnus Broo: Daughter of the
Sun (2018, Odin): Norwegian tenor saxophonist, fourth album
with this group, adds a trumpet this time. Seems unhelpful at first
but eventually finds his stride.
Ken Peplowski Big Band: Sunrise (2017 , Arbors):
Conventional big band (both piano and guitar), leader and whole section
credited with saxophone/clarinet/flute, mostly familiar names at the
label, swing-to-bop standards, Mark Lopeman and Billy May the main
Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Mark Feldman/Jason Kao Hwang: Strings
1 (2018, Leo): Avant tenor saxophonist, from Brazil, releases
records in bunches. Maneri plays viola, the others violin -- instruments
I almost automatically associate with dreaded classical music, although
this trio breaks that mold in distinctive ways.
Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Hank Roberts/Ned Rothenberg: Strings
2 (2018, Leo): Tenor sax and viola on all tracks, Roberts
(cello) on 7 (of 9), so the strings aren't so overwhelming here.
Also, Rothenberg plays bass clarinet on 4 tracks, in a reminder of
Perelman's summer batch of bass clarinet duos.
Lucas Pino's No Net Nonet: That's a Computer (2018,
Outside In Music): Tenor saxophonist, also plays bass clarinet, group
has two brass, three saxophones, guitar, piano (Glenn Zaleski) trio.
Opens with nicely layered, interesting postbop, but I start to lose
interest when the voice (Camilla Meza) joins in. Then I get confused
when they go Latin for the closer (not bad).
Pistol Annies: Interstate Gospel (2018, RCA Nashville):
Country supergroup, although only Miranda Lambert was well known before
their 2011 debut. Group went on hiatus after their 2013 album, with
Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley as well as Lambert releasing pretty
good solo albums. Still, this is a group effort, with nearly all songs
Charlie Porter: Charlie Porter (2018, Porter House):
Trumpet player, from Portland, first album (as far as I can tell),
eleven pieces (originals plus an Ellington), using various groups
from solo to sextet "and back again" with a total of 21 musicians --
perhaps there's a syndrome for trying to do too much on a debut.
Sounds pretty respectable, just not that interesting.
Quoan [Brian Walsh/Daniel Rosenboom/Sam Minaie/Mark Ferber]:
Fine Dining (2017 , Orenda): Quartet, with two
avant horns from Los Angeles -- (clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabass
clarinet) vs. (trumpet, piccolo trumpet, flugelhorn) -- fired up
by bassist and drummer from New York.
Nikita Rafaelov: Spirit of Gaia (2016-17 ,
Gotta Let It Out): Pianist, born in Russia, based in Finland, first
album, on a Danish label, solo but multilayered, aiming at a dense
Ernesto Rodrigues/Guilherme Rodrigues/Bruno Parrinha/Luís
Lopes/Vasco Trillo: Lithos (2017 , Creative Sources):
Portuguese group -- viola, cello, bass clarinet, electric guitar,
percussion -- looks a bit like avant-chamber but feels closer to
Rich Rosenthal/Jack DeSalvo/Tom Cabrera: Connoisseurs of
Chaos (2018, Woodshedd): First of four volumes released
this year -- don't have recording dates -- all with drummer Tom
Cabrera, his name always listed last so my rules file then under
other artists. Rosenthal plays guitar. DeSalvo switches from the
guitar he plays in other volumes to cello and bass ukulele here.
Renee Rosnes: Beloved of the Sky (2017 ,
Smoke Sessions): Pianist, from Saskatchewan, 18 albums since
1989, wrote 7/9 tracks here. Group features Chris Potter (sax
and flute), with Steve Nelson (vibes), Peter Washington (bass),
and Lenny White (drums).
Rudy Royston: Flatbed Buggy (2018, Greenleaf Music):
Drummer, third album, quintet with a soft front line -- John Ellis
(bass clarinet/saxophones), Gary Versace (accordion), Hank Roberts
(cello) -- and bass. Takes a bit to find its center.
Jerome Sabbagh/Greg Tuohey: No Filter (2017 ,
Sunnyside): Quartet actually, leaders, who attended Berklee together
in the early 1990s, play tenor sax and guitar, backed with bass and
drums. Sax seems typical of Sabbagh's soft-edged postbop, but guitar
doesn't add much.
Dave Sewelson: Music for a Free World (2017 , FMR):
Baritone saxophonist (also sopranino), first album with his name up
front but he's been around a while: I think I first noticed him in
Microscopic Septet (or maybe its Fast 'N' Bulbous spin-off), but he's
also been in William Parker's orchestras and is on a couple albums
with Peter Kuhn. Freewheeling two-horn quartet here, with Steve Swell
(trombone) facing off, Parker on bass, and Marvin Smith on drums. A
little ragged, but freedom's like that.
Julian Siegel Quartet: Vista (2018, Whirlwind):
British tenor saxophonist (also soprano sax/bass clarinet), first
album 1997, only a few widely scattered since, this one with Liam
Noble (piano), Oli Hayhurst (bass), and Gene Calderazzo (drums).
Solid mainstream effort.
Paul Simon: In the Blue Light (2018, Legacy): New
recordings of ten songs from previous albums, four from 2000's
You're the One, one each from six other albums spanning
1973-2011. A songwriter I never liked except when he picked an
outstanding rhythm and baited his hooks liberally. He does none
of that here, but doesn't make himself obnoxious either.
Esperanza Spalding: 12 Little Spells (2018, Concord):
Started as a promising mainstream jazz bassist, then started to sing
and crossed over into a form of r&b that doesn't really succeed
Vince Staples: FM! (2018, Def Jam, EP): Off the mean
streets ("Don't Get Chipped") and into the warm sun ("Feels Like Summer"),
runs through 11 tracks in 22:16 -- one skit, two very short interludes,
but still nothing runs over 3:08.
Marcus Strickland Twi-Life: People of the Sun (2018,
Blue Note): Tenor saxophonist, first appeared as a mainstream player
with tremendous chops, but Blue Note's tempted him to cross over to
their "new groove" hip-hop fusion model -- possibly the worst idea a
major label has embraced since soul-fusion destroyed Blue Note back
in the early 1970s. This is sharper than 2016's Nihil Novi,
but mostly on the strength of the leader's towering lines. Beyond
that, I have little idea, but note that the label's hype doesn't
offer any credits info, perhaps because none is merited.
Yuhan Su: City Animals (2018, Sunnyside): Vibraphonist,
born in Taiwan, based in New York, second album, fanciful cover shows
penguins flying over Battery Park. With Matt Holman (trumpet), Alex
LoRe (alto sax), bass and drums.
Subtone: Moose Blues (2018, Laika): German group (I
think): Magnus Schrieft (trumpet/flugelhorn), Malte Dürrschnabel (tenor
sax/clarinet/flute), Florian Hoefner (piano), Matthias Pichler (bass),
Peter Gall (drums) -- Hoefner, the one I'm familiar with, wrote four
songs, Schrieft four, Gall three. Bright and cheery post-bop.
Jay Thomas With the Oliver Groenewald Newnet: I Always Knew
(2018, Origin): Plays alto/tenor sax, but trumpet is his lead credit here.
Arranger Groenewald also plays trumpet, as does Brad Allison, credited as
"lead trumpet." Ten-piece group, nicely layered, favors those trumpets.
Trio Heinz Herbert: Yes (2018, Intakt): Swiss fusion
(jazztronica) group -- Dominic Landolt (guitar/effects), Ramon Landolt
(synthesier/sampler/piano), Mario Hänni (drums/effects) -- novel sounds,
nothing slick, some intense.
Harriet Tubman: The Terror End of Beauty (2018,
Sunnyside): Guitar-bass-drums trio -- Brandon Ross, Melvin Gibbs,
JT Lewis -- fifth album since 1998. Dense, heavy riffs, seems a
bit monochromatic without the guest trumpet that lifted their
last two albums (especially Araminta, with Wadada Leo
The David Ullmann Group: Sometime (2018, Little Sky):
Guitarist, has a couple previous records, core group includes organ,
drums, and extra percussion, but most songs pick up horns, also some
keyboards, guitar-like instruments (tres, sitar, mandolin), and vibes.
Fusion with a full kitchen sink.
Piet Verbist: Suite Réunion (2018, Origin): Bassist,
from Belgium, third album plus one by Mamutrio and a couple of side
credits. Postbop quartet, no idea what "Suite" means here but the
group is stocked with early collaborators, notably Bart Borremans
(tenor sax) and Bram Weijters (piano), plus drums (split in two).
Harry Vetro: Northern Ranger (2018, T.Sound): Canadian
drummer, leads a sextet on six (of 12) tracks, which drops down to piano
or guitar trio, solo piano or guitar, and string quartet. Still flows
nicely, with scattered riches.
David Virelles: Igbó Alákorin (The Singer's Groove) Vol I
& II (2017 , Pi): Pianist, born in Cuba, moved to
New York in 2009, studying with Henry Threadgill. Combines two volumes
on a single CD: the 35:19 "David Virelles Introduces Qrquesta Luz de
Oriente" and the 23:17 "Danzones de Romeu at Café La Diana." The
latter are duos with güiro player Rafael Abalos, offering an engaging
code to the main action, which is the medium-sized orchestra with
lead singers Alejandro Almenares and Emilio Despaigne Robert. I
often find myself enjoying Latin jazz groups yet wondering what if
anything makes one special. No doubts here, not that I can really
Cuong Vu 4Tet: Change in the Air (2017 , Rare
Noise): Trumpet player, from Vietnam, left for Seattle at 6 (1975),
has a dozen albums since 1997. Quartet with Bill Frisell (guitar),
Luke Bergman (bass), and Ted Poor (drums), one piece from Bergman,
three each for the others.
David S. Ware Trio: The Balance (Vision Festival XV+)
(2009-10 , AUM Fidelity): Tenor saxophonist, Ayler school, his
long-running Quartet exemplified free jazz in the 1990s, died in 2012
after kidney problems. Fourth posthumous release, combining a Vision
Festival performance with out-takes from Onecept, both with
William Parker (bass) and Warren Smith (drums).
Becky Warren: Undesirable (2018, self-released):
Nashville singer-songwriter, second album after 2016's excellent
War Surplus. This lacks that album's overarching concept,
but extends its sensibility. Rocks harder, too. Occasionally reminds
me of Lucinda Williams.
Trevor Watts & RGG: RAFA: Live in Klub Zak Jazz Jantar
2018 (2018, Fundacja Sluchaj): Cover seems to list RGG --
Polish piano trio of Lukasz Ojdana, Maciej Garbowski, and Krzysztof
Gradziuk -- first, but the alto avant-saxophonist is the guest and
the star at this Gdansk festival. Didn't recall the "probably
greatest Polish piano trio," but their Live @ Alchemia
with Evan Parker (2017) was even better.
Way North: Fearless and Kind (2018, self-released):
Toronto group: Rebecca Hennessy (trumpet), Petr Cancura (tenor sax),
Michael Herring (bass), Richie Barshay (drums). Postbop with some
edge and freedom.
Kenny Werner: The Space (2016 , Pirouet):
Pianist, first album came out in 1978 (The Piano Music of Bix
Beiderbecke/Duke Ellington/George Gershwin/James P. Johnson),
several dozen since then. This one is solo, quiet, thoughtful,
a mix of originals and unobvious covers.
Jeff Williams: Lifelike (2017 , Whirlwind):
Drummer, originally from Ohio, discography stretches back to 1975 but
only a handful of albums under his own name. This was recorded live
in London with trumpeter Gonçalo Marquez "featured guest" -- also
John O'Gallagher (alto sax), Josh Arcoleo (tenor sax), Kit Downes
(piano), and Sam Lasserson (bass). The trumpeter (elsewhere known as
Marques) makes an impression, the saxes even more so.
Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries
Dexter Gordon Quartet: Espace Cardin 1977 (1977 ,
Elemental Music): Previously unreleased live set, from Espace Pierre
Cardin in Paris, with Al Haig (piano), Pierre Michelot (bass), and Kenny
Clarke (drums). A typical set, the songs averaging 10+ minutes, in fine
form throughout, maybe a hair better than the Tokyo 1975 release
earlier this year (although I'm bothered by the discrepancies between
the LP and digital releases). [LP has 4 songs, Napster has 5/6].
Charlie Haden & Brad Mehldau: Long Ago and Far Away
(2007 , Impulse): Recorded at a festival in Mannheim, Germany,
just bass and piano. Not revelatory, but lovely nonethless -- you don't
often hear sensitize comping behind tear-jerking bass solos every day,
but Haden often brought such emotion to bear.
Jimi Hendrix: Both Sides of the Sky (1968-70 ,
Legacy): A compilation of "posthumously released 'archival recordings'"
post-Electric Ladyland, a reorganization that has now run to
three CDs -- after Valleys of Neptune (2010) and People, Hell
and Angels (2013). I haven't heard those two, and I'm not enough of
a fan to be able to identify how any of them maps onto previous waves
of posthumous releases. (Wasn't First Days of the New Rising Sun,
in 1997, supposed to be the official fourth Hendrix album? I've heard
lots of late Hendrix, but somehow missed that one). Mixed bag here, with
"Georgia Blues" outstanding, "Mannish Boy" fine -- found the latter on
Blues (1994), the former on Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues:
Jimi Hendrix (2003). Some terrific guitar scattered amongst lots of
Fred Hersch: Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard
(1997 , Palmetto): Previously unreleased tape, with Drew Gress
and Tom Rainey, predates four other Village Vanguard records
I've heard, and probably the best of the bunch. Came at a time when
he was releasing a series of songbook albums. Two originals, one from
the bassist, five standards -- got the mix just right.
Keith Jarrett: La Fenice (2006 , ECM, 2CD):
Umpteenth solo piano album, from a concert at Teatro La Fenice in
Venice, Italy, parts of the title piece extending well into the
second disc, ending with "My Wild Irish Rose," "Stella by Starlight,"
and "Blossom", running 97:39. Crowd is enthusiastic.
Jazz at the Philharmonic [Oscar Peterson/Illinois Jacquet/Herb
Ellis]: Blues in Chicago 1955 (1955 , Verve): Not
a group per sé, just an ad hoc collection of stars who Norman Granz
brought together for jam session shows all over the world. Just three
names on the cover, and Jacquet only appears on 3 (of 4) tracks, same
as unlisted stars Flip Phillips, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie, and
Roy Eldridge. The rhythm section -- Peterson, Ellis, Ray Brown, and
Buddy Rich -- are on all four. Starts with 20:00 of "The Blues" --
same title as on JATP's 1944 First Concert starring Jacquet --
backed with a 13:06 "Ballad Medley" giving each horn player a solo.
Rounded out with two shorter pieces, "The Modern Set" (Gillespie and
Young) and "The Swing Set" (Eldridge, Phillips, and Jacquet).
The Gene Krupa Quartet: Live 1966 (1966 , Dot
Time Legends): Drummer (1909-73), rose to fame with Benny Goodman,
led his own big band and small combos, the most famous with Anita
O'Day and Roy Eldridge. He mostly recorded for Norman Granz 1953-62,
and trailed off after that, with nothing after 1965. Recorded at the
Indiana Jazz Festival in Evansville, a small swing combo with Eddie
Shu (sax), Dill Jones (piano), and Benny Moten (bass, not to be
confused with pre-Basie pianist Bennie Moten). Unremarkable, except
that some of the drum parts couldn't be anyone else.
Thelonious Monk: Mřnk (1963 , Gearbox): Quartet
set, recorded live in Copenhagen with Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), John
Ore (double bass), and Frankie Dunlop (drums). Limited edition vinyl,
collector-priced, good sound on classic tunes, nothing you haven't
heard before, but superb.
Frank Morgan/George Cables: Montreal Memories (1989
, High Note): Alto sax/piano duets, previously unreleased live
tape. Morgan had made an impression as a be-bopper early on, but landed
in jail in 1955 and didn't get out until 1985, when he started out on
an impressive comeback, recording regularly up to his death in 2007.
Boppish program here, with "Now's the Time," "A Night in Tunisia,"
and "Confirmation" in the first half, separated by "All the Things
You Are" and "'Round Midnight." Cables, who had done similar work
with Morgan's old San Quentin bandmate Art Pepper, is perfect here.
Outlaws & Armadillos: Country's Roaring '70s (1971-79
, Legacy, 2CD): Discogs only lists a 12-track LP, but I slogged
through the entire 35-track stream, collated from more than just Sony's
back catalogue (mostly Columbia and RCA), the emphasis on covering all
the bases in Texas (Jerry Jeff Walker and Terry Allen bring up the
armadillos), including some blues as well as a lot of Lubbock.
Art Pepper: Unreleased Art Pepper Vol. 10: Toronto
(1977 , Widow's Taste, 3CD): Much discussion here of this being
Pepper's first-ever band tour, which seems strange given that he toured
relentlessly in his last years, up to his death at 56 in 1982. He had
spent the better part of 1954-65 in jail, and didn't record much in
the following decade, until the superb Living Legend in 1975,
starting one of the most extraordinarily productive runs in history.
The best place to start is his big (16-CD) box of Complete Galaxy
Recordings: dive in anywhere and be amazed. Another choice is his
pivotal 1977 Village Vanguard Sessions, originally released in
four volumes then boxed up complete for 9-CD. Then there are the live
bootlegs from the period, which Laurie Pepper has collated into ten
volumes: nearly every disc has its share of breathtaking stretches,
and this one is no exception. This is touted as a tune-up for the
Village Vanguard stand, but the rhythm section here (Bernie Senensky,
Gene Perla or Dave Piltch, Terry Clarke) was to be replaced by much
more familiar names (George Cables, George Mraz, Elvin Jones). Still,
Pepper adjusts by blowing even harder. Third disc is padded out with
a 30-minute interview, which I may not play again but was never for
a moment tempted to eject. Among other things, he talks about falling
in love with Miles Davis' Live-Evil, and wishing to play with
that rhythm section. Too bad that never happened -- would have been
especially poignant given that one of his first great albums was a
chance meeting with Davis' famous 1957 rhythm section.
Art Pepper: The Art Pepper Quartet (1956 ,
Omnivore): Recorded a couple months before his famed Meets
the Rhythm Section (with Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly
Joe Jones from Miles Davis' first great hard bop quintet), this
rhythm section epitomized West Coast cool: Russ Freeman (piano),
Ben Tucker (bass), and Gary Frommer (drums). Filling the CD out
with alternate takes (including a false start) brings this to an
odd end, but the original record is superb -- as was pretty much
everything Pepper did during this brief period between jail terms.
Art Pepper: Blues for the Fisherman: Unreleased Art Pepper
Vol VI (1980 , Widow's Taste, 4CD): Live at Ronnie
Scott's in London, recorded over two nights, with what was probably
Pepper's most regular quartet lineup: Milcho Leviev (piano), Tony
Dumas (bass), and Carl Burnett (drums). At the time, the publicist
(or label) balked at sending out full sets, so all I received was
a useless sampler. Looks like the digital is released in four parts,
but it would be a hopeless task to choose between them. Only repeats
are "Ophelia" and "Make a List." Even though he talks about being
nervous the first night, all four discs are terrific -- better than
the earlier Toronto, enough so that I can imagine eventually
bumping the grade. And while that's mostly Pepper, the band has
grown (especially Leviev).
Woody Shaw/Louis Hayes: The Tour: Volume One (1976 ,
High Note): Recorded at Liederhalle Mozartsaal in Stuttgart, Germany, a
crack hard bop quintet with the leaders on trumpet and drums, plus Junior
Cook on tenor sax, Ronnie Matthews on piano, and Stafford James on bass.
Hot stuff, Shaw is in especially good form.
Woody Shaw/Louis Hayes: The Tour: Volume Two (1976-77
, High Note): Six cuts from the same tour, collected from five
more shows, mostly in Germany (one in Austria), mostly with the same
band (René McLean replaces Junior Cook for the 1977 Munich track). As
on Volume One, the trumpeter is in imposing form.
Joe Strummer: 001 (1981-2002 , Ignition, 2CD):
Singer-songwriter (with Mick Jones) in the Clash, which released two
insanely great albums in 1977 and 1979, two merely great ones in 1978
and 1980 (the latter sprawling over 3LP), and a swansong in 1982 which
only disappointed in context. After that, Mick Jones left for Big
Audio Dynamite -- I loved their first album, but Christgau panned
it, and I quickly lost interest in later albums -- while Strummer
released a final album under the Clash brand (Cut the Crap),
and occasionally popped up with something or other, including a band
called the Mescaleros shortly before he died in 2002 (age 50). None
of that seemed to work, although I thought his half of the soundtrack
to the 1988 film Permanent Record showed that he could still
do something terrific. It turns out that he left thousands of tapes
when he died, and 16 years later we're finally getting a glimpse of
what he had been working on. Slightly more than half of this came out
on various albums and soundtracks, but not much here that really stands
out -- just little bits that invariably remind you of better work on
older albums (like the still marvelous "Trash City," from Permanent
[Napster omits 6/32 tracks. More extravagant product offerings add some
Ben Webster: Valentine's Day 1964 Live! (1964 ,
Dot Time): Recorded at the Half Note in New York, with Dave Frishberg
(piano), Richard Davis (bass), and Grady Tate (drums). Sound is a bit
iffy, and early on the pieces run faster than you'd expect, a roughness
that pays dividends in places.
Mandy Barnett: The Original Nashville Cast Recordings of "Always . . .
Patsy Cline": Live at the Ryman Auditorium (1995, Decca): Cline's
picture on the cover, with no mention of Barnett, who established her own
name with an eponymous album in 1996 and a still better one in 1999, but
most sources file this under Barnett. She was the singer, with her perfect
renditions of Cline's hits. In between you hear uncredited narrative from
a Houston fan Cline befriended, Louise Seger. Author Ted Swindley has
restaged the show regularly, showcasing many Patsy Cline impersonators,
but Barnett set the standard.
Mandy Barnett: Sweet Dreams (2011, Opry Music): Not sure
why she didn't follow up her 1996-99 albums, but aside from a Christmas
album distributed by Cracker Barrel, this was her first in 12 years, a
return to Patsy Cline's songbook, suggesting that's how she made her
living. My guess is that this was recorded as a fungible souvenir of her
live act. Near perfect, so much so it can't avoid charges of redundancy.
Jimi Hendrix: First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1968-70
, MCA): With the Hendrix Estate taking charge of what had been a
messy scattershot of posthumous releases, this appeared as an imagined
fourth album along with remasters of the three he released during his
brief life. Nothing actually new here, as the tracks had been previously
released on The Cry of Love (1971), Rainbow Bridge (1971),
and War Heroes (1972). (Nor was this an original idea, as 1995's
Voodoo Soup started with the same idea, but added extra dubs so
the Estate quashed it.) Could have been tightened up a bit for a proper
release, but pretty unique.
Allan Holdsworth: I.O.U. (1982 , Enigma): British
fusion guitarist (1946-2017), I knew his name, noted his recent death,
had him filed under rock, listing three albums highly rated by AMG, none
heard by me. I probably would have left it at that, but he's finished
second in Downbeat's Readers Poll the last two years (losing
first to Wynton Marsalis, then to Ray Charles, and not by much). Lots
of their picks are dubious: e.g., this year Snarky Puppy won Jazz Group,
and Trombone Shorty topped the list of trombonists, but those are picks
I know better than, whereas I knew next to nothing of Holdsworth. This
seemed to be the place to start (second, album, but "the first solo
album over which he had full artistic control"). Guitar not bad but
not up to the brag of his 12-CD box set (The Man Who Changed Guitar
Forever). Vocals by Paul Williams explain why this was taken (and
ignored) as rock.
Allan Holdsworth With I.O.U.: Metal Fatigue (1985,
Enigma): Alan Pasqua joins on keyboards, a respected jazz pianist
mostly wasted here. Vocals on only three (of six) tracks, the three
shortest, with Paul Korda replacing Paul Williams on the last (and
best). Nothing here makes me think "guitar genius."
Allan Holdsworth: Atavachron (1986, Enigma): Plays
SynthAxe (a fretted, guitar-like MIDI controller) as well as guitar,
using bass (Jimmy Johnson) and alternating between two keyboardists
(Alan Pasqua on three tracks) and three drummers (Gary Husband on
four, Tony Williams on one). Vocals down to one (Rowanne Mark).
Allan Holdsworth: Sand (1987, Relativity): No vocals,
more sound effects (John England's credit), Alan Pasqua on keyboards,
a split decision on bass and drums. His most fusion-sounding album to
date, though I can't say that means he's getting better.
Allan Holdsworth: Secrets (1989, Intima): Vocals return:
one track each from Rowanne Mark and Craig Copeland, plus some spoken
word -- nothing out of the ordinary.
Allan Holdsworth: Wardenclyffe Tower (1992, Restless):
Still Jimmy Johnson on bass, but various keybs and drums, including
three tracks with Gordon Beck, a fine jazz pianist who worked with
Holdsworth early on (and before that discovered John McLaughlin).
Allan Holdsworth: The Sixteen Men of Tain (2000, Gnarly
Geezer): Skipping ahead a few albums, nothing much has changed: well,
drop the keyboards, add a trumpet, but still, nothing much.
Allan Holdsworth/Alan Pasqua/Jimmy Haslip/Chad Wackerman: Blues
for Tony (2007 , Moonjune, 2CD): Presumably Tony Williams,
the young drummer in the 1965-70 Miles Davis Quintet who went on to run
a pathbreaking fusion group in the 1970s. Holdsworth appeared on the
1975-76 New Tony Williams Lifetime albums, and Williams played on a
couple of the guitarist's efforts, along with Pasqua. Yellowjackets
bassist Haslip adds some muscle at bass, and Wackerman establishes
himself early with a big drum solo.
Joakim Milder: Ways (1990-92 , Dragon): Swedish
tenor/soprano saxophonist, 20+ albums since 1988, seven in my database
as Penguin Guide picks but none I've heard (although I A-listed
2014's Spark of Life, filed under Marcin Wasilewski). Thought
I'd look him up after I got a new record, but only found this one item:
eleven pieces by various lineups mostly with piano and strings (drums
on less than half). Probably not the place to start, although note that
the one cut with conventional tenor sax-piano-bass-drums, "Buurgogne,"
really stands out.
Red Mitchell/Joakim Milder/Roger Kellaway: Live in Stockholm
(1991 , Dragon): Bass-tenor sax-piano, recorded at Jazzclub Fasching
a year before the bassist died. "Sophisticated Lady" drags a bit, but good
solos in "Life's a Take."
Frank Morgan: City Nights: Live at the Jazz Standard
(2003 , High Note): Alto sax quartet, with George Cables (piano),
Curtis Lundy (bass), and Billy Hart (drums), doing a classic bop set,
starting with a "Georgia on My Mind" (gorgeous) and "Cherokee" (rip
roaring), ending with a couple of Coltrane tunes.
Frank Morgan: Raising the Standard: Live at the Jazz Standard
Vol. 2 (2003 , High Note): Same group, recorded over
three days so some sorting has been done, pushing the fast ones out
on City Lights, with enough left over for a Vol. 3 in
2007. They slow it down here, starting with "Polka Dots and Moonbeams,"
ending with "Bessie's Blues," highlighted with two Ellingtons.
Louis Prima/Keely Smith With Sam Butera and the Witnesses: The
Wildest Shoe at Tahoe (1957, Capitol): Smith is by far the more
presentable singer, but Prima gets top billing and his Italian "Zooma
Zooma" shit is the most distinctive. Still not as wild as 1958's Live
From Las Vegas.
Woody Shaw: Live Volume One (1977 , High Note):
The trumpeter's recordings are mostly divided between Muse and Columbia,
so not too surprising that a bunch of live tapes wound up in the hands
of Muse co-founder Joe Fields. This is the first of four volumes, year
listed but no specific dates, with Carter Jefferson (tenor/soprano sax),
Larry Willis (piano), Stafford James (bass), and Victor Lewis (drums).
Woody Shaw: Live Volume Two (1977 , High Note):
Again not seeing many details, same group as above except that Steve
Turre (trombone) replaces Carter Jefferson (tenor/soprano sax) on 3 of
4 long tracks.
Woody Shaw: Live Volume Three (1977 , High Note):
Live from the Keystone Korner in San Francisco, two quartet tracks with
Stafford James (bass), Victor Lewis (drums), and either Larry Willis or
Mulgrew Miller (piano), plus three tracks adding Steve Turre (trombone).
Woody Shaw: Live Volume Four (1981 , High Note):
Again from Keystone Korner, a few years later with no sax but trombonist
Steve Turre nearly stealing the show.
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
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Music: current count 30692  rated (+57), 271  unrated (-22).
Cooked Thanksgiving dinner for my nephew, his girlfriend, and a few
scattered friends who didn't have other engagements. Figured I'd pick
off a few French recipes I had missed on my birthday. I figured the
roast bird could simply be a chicken, especially since I hadn't done
any chicken on birthday. I repeated the potatoes (gratin dauphinois)
and chopped chicken liver (but none of the other spreads). For new
dishes, I had carrots (cooked with ginger and cardamom), green beans
(with pancetta), tian (zucchini and tomato slices roasted on top of
onion), and a salad (frisee aux lardons -- I had a nice-sized chunk
of slab bacon left over, and mixed a little liver into the vinaigrette).
For dessert, I made three pies: sweet potato, chocolate pecan, and key
lime. Probably should have offered ice cream, but just whipped some
cream. (In fact, had so much cream left over, I probably should have
made ice cream.) Had a couple bake-it-yourself baguettes. Figured I
needed them for the liver and croutons for the frisee, but turned out
that butter on bread was popular. Had I realized that, I could have
mixed up an herbed/spiced butter spread.
Thanksgiving probably cost me two days of listening, but I started
the week strong, and finished it stronger. Still, that should have
yielded something like 40 records. However, when I ran the numbers,
the increase was less than the list, so I made a pass through the
unrated albums list and a dozen more I had missed. And by the time
I straightened that out, I had rated some more. In the end it seemed
easier to get current than to respect yesterday's cutoff.
I've started collecting
EOY lists. Thus far there's not a lot to go on: some long lists
from UK record stores, UK pubs like
Uncut, a couple of metal-oriented lists, and
Paste -- closer to what I expect from major US lists, although
still pretty shy of hip-hop. I've retained some data from mid-year
lists, which helps balance out the early skews. At the moment, the
top five are Janelle Monáe, Courtney Barnett, Rolling Blackouts CF,
Kamasi Washington, and Cardi B. Without the mid-year boost, Barnett
would be leading Monáe, and Cardi B wouldn't be in the top 100.
I'm also tabulating Jazz Critics Poll ballots. Can't share any
of that with you yet, but I have about 20 ballots counted at this
point. That info is pushing me to check out lots of albums, although
my priority this and next week will be to catch up with my own CD
Meanwhile, I've done a preliminary sort on my own Best of 2018
lists, split for
Non-Jazz I'll keep
adding to these well into the future.
Also, expect a Streamnotes by the end of the month. I guess that's
like Friday. I have a pretty decent-sized draft file already.
New records rated this week:
- Ambrose Akinmusire: Origami Harvest (2018, Blue Note): [r]: B+(*)
- Big Bold Back Bone: Emerge (2015 , Wide Ear): [cd]: B+(*)
- Francesco Cafiso: We Play for Tips (2017 , EFLAT/Incipit): [r]: B+(**)
- The Chills: Snow Bound (2018, Fire): [r]: B+(**)
- Eric Church: Desperate Man (2018, EMI Nashville): [r]: A-
- Roxy Coss: The Future Is Female (2018, Posi-Tone): [r]: B
- Mário Costa: Oxy Patina (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
- Kaja Draksler/Petter Eldh/Christian Lillinger: Punkt. Vrt. Plastik (2016 , Intakt): [cd]: A-
- Open Mike Eagle: What Happens When I Try to Relax (2018, Auto Reverse, EP): [r]: B+(***)
- The Gil Evans Orchestra: Hidden Treasures Monday Nights: Volume One (2016-17 , Bopper Spock Suns Music): [cd]: B+(*)
- Marianne Faithfull: Negative Capability (2018, BMG): [r]: B+(***)
- Alan Ferber Big Band: Jigsaw (2016 , Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
- Birgitta Flick Quartet: Color Studies (2018, Double Moon): [r]: B+(**)
- Gabriela Friedli Trio: Areas (2015 , Leo): [r]: B+(**)
- David Friesen: My Faith, My Life (2017-18 , Origin, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***)
- Claus Hřjensgĺrd/Emanuele Mariscalco/Nelide Bendello: Hřbama (2017 , Gotta Let It Out): [cd]: B+(*)
- Rocco John Iacovone/Jack DeSalvo/Mark Hagan/Phil Sirois/Tom Cabrera: Connoisseurs of Chaos IV (2018, Woodshedd): [bc]: B+(***)
- Jentsch Group No Net: Topics in American History (2016 , Blue Schist): [cd]: B+(**)
- Ingrid Laubrock: Contemporary Chaos Practices: Two Works for Orchestra With Soloists (2017 , Intakt): [cd]: B+(***)
- Robbie Lee & Mary Halvorson: Seed Triangular (2018, New Amsterdam): [r]: B+(**)
- Ravyn Lenae: Crush (2018, Atlantic, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- LFU: Lisbon Freedom Unit: Praise of Our Folly (2015 , Clean Feed): [cd]: A-
- Carol Liebowitz/Birgitta Flick: Malita-Malika (2017 , Leo): [cd]: B+(***)
- Maisha: There Is a Place (2018, Brownswood): [r]: B+(*)
- Christian McBride: Christian McBride's New Jawn (2017 , Mack Avenue): [r]: B+(**)
- Jorge Nila: Tenor Time (Tribute to the Tenor Masters) (2018 , Ninjazz): [cd]: B+(***)
- Evan Parker/Eddie Prevost: Tools of Imagination (2017 , Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(*)
- William Parker: Flower in a Stained-Glass Window/The Blinking of the Ear (2018, Centering/AUM Fidelity, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
- Hanna Paulsberg Concept & Magnus Broo: Daughter of the Sun (2018, Odin): [r]: B+(**)
- The Ken Peplowski Big Band: Sunrise (2017 , Arbors): [r]: B
- Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Mark Feldman/Jason Hwang: Strings 1 (2018, Leo): [cd]: B+(***)
- Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Hank Roberts/Ned Rothenberg: Strings 2 (2018, Leo): [cd]: B+(**)
- Rich Rosenthal/Jack DeSalvo/Tom Cabrera: Connoisseurs of Chaos (2018, Woodshedd): [bc]: B+(**)
- Dave Sewelson: Music for a Free World (2017 , FMR): [cd]: A-
- Julian Siegel Quartet: Vista (2018, Whirlwind): [r]: B+(***)
- Jay Thomas With the Oliver Groenewald Newnet: I Always Knew (2018, Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
- Harriet Tubman: The Terror End of Beauty (2018, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(*)
- The David Ullman Group: Sometime (2018, Little Sky): [cd]: B
- Piet Verbist: Suite Réunion (2018, Origin): [cd]: B+(***)
- David Virelles: Igbó Alákorin (The Singer's Groove) Vol I & II (2017 , Pi): [cd]: A-
- Trevor Watts & RGG: RAFA (2018, Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(***)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Fred Hersch: Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard (1997 , Palmetto): [cd]: A-
- Jazz at the Philharmonic [Oscar Peterson/Illinois Jacquet/Herb Ellis]: Blues in Chicago 1955 (Verve): [r]: A-
- The Gene Krupa Quartet: Live 1966 (1966 , Dot Time Legends): [r]: B+(*)
- Thelonioous Monk: Mřnk (1963 , Gearbox): [r]: A-
Old music rated this week:
- Louis Prima/Keely Smith With Sam Butera and the Witnesses: The Wildest Shoe at Tahoe (1957, Capitol): [r]: B+(**)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Kaja Draksler/Petter Eldh/Christian Lillinger: Punkt. Vrt. Plastik (Intakt)
- Jentsch Group No Net: Topics in American History (Blue Schist): November 30
- Ingrid Laubrock: Contemporary Chaos Practices: Two Works for Orchestra With Soloists (Intakt)
- Roberto Magris: World Gardens (JMood): December 1
- Dave Sewelson: Music for a Free World (FMR)
- Trio Heinz Herbert: Yes (Intakt)
- Voicehandler: Light From Another Light (Humbler)
Sunday, November 25, 2018
Seems like it's been a slow news week, probably because the holiday
both cut into the political world's capacity for misdeeds and my (and
others') attention span. I'm also preoccupied with music poll matters.
Still, figured I should at least briefly go through the motions, if
only to keep the record reasonably intact.
Some scattered links this week:
Matthew Yglesias: House Democrats don't need a leader, they need someone
to represent them on TV: I see two basic knocks on Pelosi as Speaker:
one is the sense of failure with the 2010 and subsequent losses; another
is that in many parts of the country Republicans have been able to use
her (so-called radical agenda) to scare voters. (This was painfully clear
in my own district, which voted solidly Republican, despite an exceptional
Democratic candidate.) As far as I can tell, Pelosi is moderate-left by
national standards, but her district in San Francisco could easily support
someone further left. I suspect that most Democrats would prefer for her
to step aside and let someone else (younger and more charismatic) take
over, but as it is the only challengers are coming from the right -- not
because the caucus wants to move right but because some winners in close
districts pledged to vote against her. Yglesias finds a third knock against
her: that she's not very effective on TV either representing her party or
parrying against Trump. He suggests designating someone else to take the
publicity role, limiting her to in-house strategizing (which she's arguably
good at). I'm reminded here that in Britain they have an interesting system
where the opposition party designates a "shadow cabinet" -- one member for
each cabinet position, so there's always a recognized point person for
whatever issues crop up. A big advantage there is that it would open up
more prominent roles for more people. Might even be . . . more democratic.
Other Yglesias pieces:
There's nothing "America First" about Trump's Saudi policy: Worth
including not just the links but the linked-to titles in this quote:
President Donald Trump must be giving thanks this morning for press
coverage of his extraordinarily inappropriate statement on the murder
of dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi
Zack Beauchamp: Trump's Khashoggi statement is a green light for
Trump has secretive sources of income and murky financial ties to
America deserves to know how much money Trump is getting from the Saudi
government], and keeps touting entirely bogus statistics about the
jobs impact of arms sales to Saudi Arabia
Trump says selling weapons to Saudi Arabia will create a lot of jobs.
That's not true.]. Nevertheless, much of the coverage of his statement
simply takes at face value his assertions that his handling of this issue
is driven by American interests -- rather than by his own self-interest or
the interests of his donors in the defense contracting industry.
Yglesias argues that "America has a strong interest in curtailing
murder." I agree that America should have such an interest, but can't
think of many examples of pre-Trump US governments doing anything like
that. The US continued to support Pinochet when his agents gunned down
a Chilean dissenter in the streets of Washington -- probably the most
similar incident, but far from unique. The US has long and lavishly
supported Israel's targeted assassination programs -- the model for
America's even more extensive "drone warfare" program. More generally,
the US supported "death squads" in Latin America and elsewhere, as
well as providing intelligence, training, and weapons to "security
forces" -- Indonesia's slaughter of 500,000 "communists" is one of
the more striking examples. Then there are arms sales in support of
aggressive wars, such as the one Saudi Arabia is waging in Yemen.
Or you can point to the US refusal to support the International
Criminal Court. You can argue that Trump is even worse than past
US presidents in this regard -- both for his tasteless embrace of
flagrant killers like Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and
for his slavish devotion to "allies" like Saudi Arabia and Israel --
but he's mostly just following past practices (even if he seems to
be enjoying them too much).
The more interesting question is why has the murder of Khashoggi
different? I don't have time to trot my theories out there, but even
if anti-Islam bigotry is part of the equation, the basic realization
that governments shouldn't go around killing their dissidents is one
more people should embrace more consistently.
The time Nancy Pelosi saved Social Security: Credits Pelosi with
blocking the privatization scheme GW Bush claimed as his mandate after
winning the 2004 election. I never thought the scheme had a chance,
because I knew they could never afford to bridge the gap between
pay-as-you-go and funded schemes (even a far-from-adequately funded
one). But sure, give Pelosi credit for her blanket rejection of all
Republican schemes. A big problem that Democrats had all through the
Reagan-Bush-Bush years has been their callow willingness to accept
(and legitimize) conservative talking points, so it's good to point
to examples where they didn't, and saved themselves. Also on Pelosi:
Ella Nilsen: Why House progressives have Nancy Pelosi's back.
The 2016 election really was dominated by a controversy over emails.
Does a good job of summing up the view that media and ultimately voter
perception of the 2016 election was decisively dominated by the "email
scandal" -- the Gallup Daily Tracking word cloud shows this graphically,
but there are many other telling details. Why is a question that remains
unanswered. Is it really just as simple as the endless repetition -- by
the partisan right-wing media, echoed by mainstream media that covered
propaganda as news -- or was there such underlying dislike and distrust
of Clinton that let such a trivial mistake (at worst) signify some kind
of deeply disturbing character flaw? And if so, why didn't Trump's own
obvious character flaws disqualify him? One thing well established by
polling is that both candidates were viewed negatively by most people,
yet when forced to choose, a decisive number of Americans opted to rid
themselves of Clinton to tip the election to the equally (or more, but
not more deeply) disliked Trump.
The Beto O'Rourke 2020 buzz, explained: "hey, losing a high-profile
Senate race was good enough for Abraham Lincoln.".
Arthur C Brooks: How Loneliness Is Tearing America Apart: Head of
American Enterprise Institute, pushing a Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) book,
Them: Why We Hate Each Other, blaming America's numerous woes
on cultural factors. I think that may have some superficial validity,
but only after taking a hard look at inequality, powerlessness, and
Matthew Choi: Trump hits back at Chief Justice Roberts, escalating an
extraordinary exchange: Roberts is no hero for a judicial system
and sense of justice that transcends party and respects all people, but
he reminds us that many conservatives (and, by the way, most liberals)
at least go through the motions of wanting to be seen in that light.
Trump clearly sees no point in looking beyond political tags -- in
part, no doubt, because his grasp of actual issues is so shallow, but
but mostly because he's convinced that naked, blatant partisanship
gives him an out from any charges of malfeasance (just blame "fake
news" and your fans will rally behind you). Trump took the same tack in
attacking Admiral Bill McRaven after McRaven had the temerity to
note that Trump's ravings about the "fake news" media constitute a
threat to American democracy. Trump's first thought was that he could
dismiss McRaven by calling him a "Hillary supporter." Clearly, he
relishes another presidential campaign against Clinton -- probably
figuring she's the only Democrat he can still whip.
Aaron Gell: The Unbearable Rightness of Seth Abramson: On a
blogger who has deeply investigated the whole Trump-Russia thing,
publishing the book: Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed
William D Hartung: America's Post-9/11 Wars Have Cost $5.9 Trillion:
"Not to mention 240,000 civilian deaths and 21 million displaced. And
yet a congressional commission is urging yet more money for a bloated
Murtaza Hussain: It's Time for America to Reckon With the Staggering
Death Toll of the Post-9/11 Wars, which puts the death toll twice
as high ("at least 480,000 people").
Rebecca Jennings: The death of small businesses in big cities, explained:
Interview with Jeremiah Moss.
Jen Kirby: Theresa May and the EU have a Brexit deal. What's next?
Andrew Kragie: Trump's New Kavanaugh for the US Court of Appeals:
Meet Neomi Rao.
Mark Landler: In Extraordinary Statement, Trump Stands With Saudis
Despite Khashoggi Killing. Also:
Karoun Demirjian: More Republicans challenge Trump on defense of Saudi
Dara Lind: Trump's reportedly cutting a deal to force asylum seekers to
wait in Mexico.
Bill McKibben: How Extreme Weather Is Shrinking the Planet. Also:
Robinson Meyer: A Grave Climate Warning, Buried on Black Friday; and
David Sirota: Big Oil v the planet is the fight of our lives. Democrats
must choose a side.
Anna North: How Trump helped inspire a wave of strict new abortion
Daniel Politi: US Agents Fire Tear Gas at Migrants Approaching the Border
Robert Reich: Break up Facebook (and while we're at it, Google, Apple
and Amazon): The sheer size of these four companies, each built to
dominate major niches on the internet, certainly suggests some sort of
antitrust remedy. (I'm less concerned here with physical products --
still most of what Apple produces, but tightly interwoven with their
network products, even more so for Google, Amazon, and we might as well
include Microsoft in this list.) On the other hand, given how important
network effects are to each of these businesses, they're more than a
little like natural monopolies, which occur in markets that are never
able to support healthy competition. The difference is that utilities
and such are most efficient with common infrastructure shared by all
customers, the winning vendor for services like Facebook (and Amazon)
is inevitably the first one with the widest network. The problem with
such monopolies is less the usual problem of restricting competition
than abuse of power. Moreover, where product monopolies tend to abuse
power by extorting high prices and/or delivering poor service, services
like Facebook and Google make their profits by exploiting their user
base (by capturing and reselling private information). It may not have
been obvious before Facebook that there was a public interest in social
media, and indeed one might never have developed had customers directly
had to bear the full development costs, but by now it's pretty clear
that: a) people want social media; b) that the market will be captured
by a single vendor; and c) that the profit motive will lead that vendor
to take advantage of and harm users. There is an obvious solution to
problems like this, and it isn't antitrust (not that there aren't cases
here for antitrust and/or other forms of regulation). The solution is
to build publicly funded non-profit utilities to provide web services
that are not subject to profit-seeking exploitation.
Dylan Scott: Bernie Sanders's new plan to bring down drug prices, briefly
explained: Better than nothing, I suppose, but this still assumes the
necessity of patents to incentivize profit-seeking companies to develop
new drugs. The main thing it does is to provide some limits on how much
drug companies can extort from customers and their insurers, and even
then depends on generics based on patent licensing to introduce a bit of
competition. A more immediately effective scheme would allow importation
of drugs from a much wider range of countries, ideally including ones
not beholden to US patent laws. (A compromise might be to allow a fixed
import tax to be claimed by the patent holder.) Better still would be to
eliminate patents altogether, and do research and development through
publicly-funded "open source" institutions around the world.
Dylan Scott: The Mississippi Senate runoff, Dems' last chance for one
more 2018 upset, explained: "Mike Espy could become the first
black senator from Mississippi since Reconstruction." We, and for
that matter, the long-suffering people of Mississippi, should be
so lucky. Cindy Hyde-Smith tweet: "Did you know extremists like Cory
Booker are campaigning for Mike Espy here in MS?" Isn't Booker the
guy with all the big bank money behind him? Who's the real extremist
Somini Sengupta: The World Needs to Quit Coal. Why Is It So Hard?
Emily Stewart: Ivanka Trump's personal email excuse shows she only wants
to seem competent some of the time: "She violated the rule by using
a personal email but wants you to believe she didn't know better."
Kaitlyn Tiffany: Wouldn't it be better if self-checkout just died?
A personal pet peeve. I, for one, pretty much never use the systems,
for lots of reasons, which start with I don't like machines lecturing
me. But then I guess I've never been good with authority figures, let
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Music: current count 30635  rated (+44), 293  unrated (-7).
at a decent (for me) hour Sunday evening, figuring I'd knock this out
on time too. However, the end-of-the-year crunch hit me hard over the
weekend, so I have quite a bit of material to cover here. I'll try to
be brief (and will probably postpone whatever I can).
First thing is that Francis Davis will be running his annual Jazz
Critics Poll again this year, with NPR picking up the tab (such as it
is) and bragging rights. I've been
hosting the ballots and providing complete results since 2009,
and will do that again. But the difference this year is that I'll be
doing the ongoing tabulation, so I need to get set up early this year
(like right now) instead of waiting for Francis to dump everything
in my lap a day or two after the voting deadline (December 9). Francis
always urges early submission of ballots, and I have three waiting in
my mailbox at the moment. Sometime over the next couple days I'll set
up my framework and start counting ballots. Good news for me is that
it will spread the work out, but ultimately that will add up to quite
a bit more work. It certainly ruins any hopes I had of driving off
to see family in Arkansas and Oklahoma.
At this point I have very little idea of the contenders -- not even
much sense of my own list. But at least I've cobbled together two very
tentative lists: as has been my custom, one for
Jazz and one for
Non-Jazz. First thing
I must say is that I was very surprised to see that both lists have
the exact same number of new A-list records: 46. Usually what happens
is that when I first put these lists together (Nov. 16 in 2017, Nov.
19 this year) I get about a 60-40 split in favor of jazz (ratio, but
I usually have about 100 A-list records at this point, so close to
literally). Then as I get a chance to look at non-jazz EOY lists, I
catch up on the non-jazz side so the split usually winds up close to
50-50 (in 2014: 69-76; in 2015: 81-83; in 2016: 75-67 -- a slight
trend line toward more jazz, which seemed to finally tilt in 2017:
84-61). So while I was expecting that trend to hold, I was also
thinking the split might be even more extreme this year, as (my
impression at least) I've actually been streaming more jazz than
non-jazz this year. So coming up 46-46 is a big surprise to me.
Actually, my perception isn't that far off base. Jazz has a
13-4 A-list edge in Reissues/Historic, which I mention because
it's hard to factor those records out of the following grade
break-downs (obtained by subtracting
Music Tracking: Jazz
|A ||3 ||1 ||2 ||33.3%|
|A- ||102 ||55 ||47 ||53.9%|
|*** ||154 ||118 ||44 ||71.4%|
|** ||215 ||160 ||55 ||74.4%|
|* ||176 ||118 ||58 ||67.8%|
|B ||83 ||54 ||29 ||65.0%|
|B- ||18 ||11 ||7 ||61.1%|
|C+ ||5 ||4 ||1 ||80.0%|
|C ||2 ||2 ||0 ||100.0%|
|C- ||1 ||1 ||0 ||100.0%|
|D+ ||1 ||1 ||0 ||100.0%|
|Total ||760 ||517 ||243 ||68.0%|
|U ||31 ||31 ||0 ||100.0%|
So, basically, I'm listening to twice as many jazz as non-jazz records,
but I'm a lot pickier about the non-jazz I play. I figure that the jazz
percentage (currently 68%) will drop a bit before the year is over, more
like last year's 62%. I should also note that the total number of rated
records is down this year, from 1185 in 2017 to 760 now (assuming 10 weeks
left, a pace that would reach 940 albums).
The jazz grade curve above looks pretty reasonable to me, although
compared to past years it looks like A- is down and B+(***) up. I'm
on a pace to hit 57 A-list jazz records this year, vs. 81-75-84 over
the last three years: the A-list share of all rated records is 6.0%
this year, vs. 7.0% last year (or three). I can't explain that. Maybe
I'm less patient, or crankier.
As for non-jazz, my most reliable scout this year remains Robert
Christgau (although I suspect that statistical analysis might show
he's been less reliable this year than before). It's now pretty easy
to check up on
for 2018 releases. Adding in
last week's picks (Homeboy Sandman & Edan, Open Mike Eagle),
he has 60 A/A- records among 2018 releases (excluding a dozen-plus
belated grades for 2017 releases). I've heard 58 of those (playing
Open Mike Eagle now; can't find Chicago Farmer), and my grades break
as follows: A: 1, A-: 24, B+(***): 16, B+(**): 8, B+(*): 7, B: 2.
That's pretty good correlation: more than half (52.1%) of my non-jazz
A-list were rated A/A- by Christgau. (Christgau has two jazz albums
on his list: John Hassell [my A-] and MAST [my ***].)
I did an update of the CG database last week -- my first since
mid-January. I hadn't been able to work on it for several months,
thanks to a major server meltdown, which forced me to rebuild my
local copy of the website based on the public copy. That shouldn't
have been too hard, but my new machine was running later software
revisions, and the public server was also out of sync with my old
server. I had more than a hundred files that I needed to revise,
and actually still don't have all of that work done. I've been
getting by with partial updates, but hadn't been able to change
the database until I resolved a character set incompatibility.
I made a breakthrough on that a week ago, and it took me until
Thursday to catch up and prepare a database update.
I also settled down and wrote up a script to provide a
RSS 2.0 feed.
If you use a RSS feed reader (most browsers have one built in),
you can add this feed to the list you're monitoring, and get
notices when new files (or major edits) appear on the website.
The current one has titles, links, and dates, but doesn't have
article descriptions yet. I'll add those as we go forward. I
don't have much experience with RSS, so there are details that
I'm unsure of. For instance, should we add links to external
websites, given that most of Christgau's new writings appear
elsewhere (e.g., Noisey), exclusively for an initial period.
(While the embargo is in effect, the RSS will link you to a
stub article which includes a link to the current article, so
the inconvenience is an extra click.)
I'll promise here to get the rest of the programming changes
done by the end of the year. Beyond that, I'm planning on doing
a fairly major website redesign next year. The current website
was launched in 2001, and we've been hearing complaints about
its "antique" design at least since 2004. Most never bothered
us, but we keep getting bit by software changes, especially by
the now nearly universal adoption of UTF-8. We need to adopt
UTF-8, and bring the older pages up to HTML5. We need to add
a viewport declaration to work better with phones (and I need
to learn what else "phone-first design" entails). We don't use
good things, I've always thought, but I'm starting to wonder.
I'm not particularly keen on moving all the articles to the
database, but the directory organization has morphed into a
sprawling, nonsensical mess -- such that I have little idea
where to put many new files. It may be a good idea to come up
with a different browsing scheme. There are also maintenance
issues, especially as we've seen that the current webmaster
can be pretty lax about his duties.
Back in 2001 when I built the site, I had figured that I'd
have to rebuild it around 2004-05. In fact, there are dozens
of pages scattered around the site with ideas for development --
few that have actually been revisited since 2005. At some point
in the next few weeks I'm going to set up a mail exchange and
invite interested (and hopefully expert) people to act as a
consulting forum on this and similar projects. (My own "ocston"
website dates back to 1999, surviving an effort back in 2002
at a major rewrite, so I can be even more lax on my own work.)
Maybe we can also provide a sounding board for others who want
to work on similar or related projects. (E.g., Chuck Eddy one
suggested reviving "Pazz N Jop Product Report," so I wrote a
very preliminary spec
here, then never did
anything about it.) I was thinking I'd announce the forum this
week, but didn't get that done. Soon, I promise.
I also hoped to get the RSS feed code backported to my site.
(Back when I was using Serendipity for my blog, I had people who
publicized my links from its RSS feed -- I know this because I've
seen broken links from a year ago.) Also I plan on adding a Q&A
feature similar to Christgau's
Xgau Sez (a
new batch of which came out today). I solved one technical issue
last week, and hoped to announce that today, but "real soon now"
is the best I can do.
Another thing I didn't get set up this week is the 2018 EOY
Aggregate file. Actually all I need to do there is to clean up
this file, which I had set up for mid-year lists (based on
last year's EOY Aggregate framework). I think what I will do
there is to turn all of the mid-year list mentions into 1-point
miscellaneous references (so that Janelle Monae drops from 52
to 22 points), then replace those as actual lists appear. EOY
lists usually start appearing around Thanksgiving. In fact,
here is the top 75 from
As for this week's music, before I got swamped I was variously intrigued
and outraged by Downbeat's Readers Poll. I made an effort to track
down the top-ranked albums I hadn't heard of. I also spent the better part
of a day trying to check out the late guitarist Allan Holdsworth, who came
in second (for the second straight year) in reader Hall of Fame voting.
(He lost to Wynton Marsalis last year, and to Ray Charles this year.) I
knew the name, and had several of his records listed (but not heard) in
my database, filed under rock. After sampling eight (of not much more
than a dozen) albums, I have to say I have no idea what fans hear in
his guitar. I suppose I could have dug deeper -- he did early work with
pianist Gordon Beck, whose Experiments With Pops was a star-making
turn for John McLaughlin, and he appeared on two 1975-76 Tony Williams
albums I don't know -- but I was pretty sure his 12-CD box set (The
Man Who Changed Guitar Forever) was de trop, especially since most
of it was also redundant.
Midweek I mostly played Christgau picks. I think I get the appeal
of Rich Krueger, but something about his sound turns me off (I called
his previous album, Life Ain't That Long, the one Christgau
prefers, "Springsteenian.") I wound up reviewing Lithics based on an
"abridged version" on Napster and Bandcamp. I usually don't bother
with partials (6/12 cuts), but figured that was the only chance I'd
get. When I do, I usually hedge, but this seemed like the sort of
thing they could keep doing for hours (recommended if you not only
like Wire but need more). A couple B+(***) records tempted me for
extra plays in case they got better. The one that came closest was
by Carol Liebowitz. Several albums this week were recommended by
Alfred Soto in an
"we're almost there" pre-EOY list. Eric Church's Desperate
Man is the only one I'd call a find, but that was after the
cutoff (so next week).
One bit of good news at Napster is that the HighNote/Savant back
catalogue is now available. I checked out a new archival Frank Morgan
release, then found a couple of old ones I had missed. I previously
pegged A Night in the Life: Live at the Jazz Standard Vol. 3
at B+(***), so it's not a big surprise that Vol. 1 and Vol.
2 edge it. The other gem in Morgan's catalog is Twogether,
a duo with John Hicks, released in 2010 after both died.
New records rated this week:
- Ethan Ardelli: The Island of Form (2018, self-released): [cd]: B+(***)
- Mandy Barnett: Strange Conversation (2018, Dame Productions/Thirty Tigers): [r]: A-
- Pat Bianchi: In the Moment (2018, Savant): [r]: B
- Magnus Broo Trio: Rules (2017 , Moserobie): [cd]: B+(**)
- Bobby Broom & the Organi-sation: Soul Fingers (2018, MRi): [cd]: B
- Rosanne Cash: She Remembers Everything (2018, Blue Note): [r]: B+(***)
- Annie Chen Octet: Secret Treetop (2018, Shanghai Audio & Video): [cd]: B
- Randy Halberstadt: Open Heart (2018, Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
- Clay Harper: Bleak Beauty (2018, self-released): [r]: B+(*)
- Christopher Hollyday: Telepathy (2018, Jazzbeat Productions): [cd]: B+(***)
- Homeboy Sandman & Edan: Humble Pi (2018, Stones Throw, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- Adam Hopkins: Crickets (2018, Out of Your Head): [cd]: B+(**)
- Jason Kao Hwang Burning Bridge: Blood (2018, True Sound): [cd]: A-
- Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis: Una Noche Con Rubén Blades (2014 , Blue Engine): [cd]: B+(**)
- Rich Krueger: NOWThen (2018, Rockin'K Music): [r]: B+(***)
- Lawful Citizen: Internal Combustion (2018, self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
- Carol Liebowitz/Birgitta Flick: Malita-Malika (2017 , Leo): [cd]: B+(***)
- Lithics: Mating Surfaces (2018, Kill Rock Stars): [bc]: B+(***)
- Roc Marciano: RR2: The Bitter Dose (2018, Marci): [r]: B+(***)
- Rhett Miller: The Messenger (2018, ATO): [r]: B+(**)
- Mr. Fingers: Cerebral Hemispheres (2018, Aleviated): [r]: B+(**)
- Old Man Saxon: The Pursuit (2018, Pusher, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Chris Pasin: Ornettiquette (2018, Planet Arts): [cd]: B+(**)
- Lucas Pino's No Net Nonet: That's a Computer (2018, Outside In Music): [cd]: B+(*)
- Paul Simon: In the Blue Light (2018, Legacy): [r]: B
- Vince Staples: FM! (2018, Def Jam, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- David S. Ware Trio: The Balance (Vision Festival XV+) (2009-10 , AUM Fidelity): [r]: B+(***)
- Way North: Fearless and Kind (2018, self-released): [cd]: B+(**)
- Kenny Werner: The Space (2016 , Pirouet): [cd]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Frank Morgan/George Cables: Montreal Memories (1989 , High Note): [r]: B+(***)
- Outlaws & Armadillos: Country's Roaring '70s (1971-79 , Legacy, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
- Joe Strummer: 001 (1981-2002, Ignition, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
- Ben Webster: Valentine's Day 1964 Live! (1964 , Dot Time): [r]: B+(***)
Old music rated this week:
- Mandy Barnett: The Original Nashville Cast Recordings of "Always . . . Patsy Cline": Live at the Ryman Auditorium (1995, Decca): [r]: B+(*)
- Allan Holdsworth: I.O.U. (1982 , Enigma): [r]: B
- Allan Holdsworth With I.O.U.: Metal Fatigue (1985, Enigma): [r]: B-
- Allan Holdsworth: Atavachron (1986, Enigma): [r]: C+
- Allan Holdsworth: Sand (1987, Relativity): [r]: B-
- Allan Holdsworth: Secrets (1989, Intima): [r]: C+
- Allan Holdsworth: Wardenclyffe Tower (1992, Restless): [r]: B-
- Allan Holdsworth: The Sixteen Men of Tain (2000, Gnarly Geezer): [r]: B-
- Allan Holdsworth/Alan Pasqua/Jimmy Haslip/Chad Wackerman: Blues for Tony (2007 , Moonjune, 2CD): [r]: B+(*)
- Frank Morgan: City Nights: Live at the Jazz Standard (2003 , High Note): [r]: A-
- Frank Morgan: Raising the Standard: Live at the Jazz Standard Vol. 2 (2003 , High Note): [r]: A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Carla Campopiano Trio: Chicago/Buenos Aires Connections (self-released): December 7
- Dustin Carlson: Air Ceremony (Out of Your Head)
- Fred Hersch: Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard (Palmetto): December 7
- Simone Kopmajer: Spotlight on Jazz (Lucy Mojo)
- Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Mark Feldman/Jason Hwang: Strings 1 (Leo)
- Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Hank Roberts/Ned Rothenberg: Strings 2 (Leo)
- Yoko Yamaoka: Diary 2005-2015: Yuko Yamaoka Plays the Music of Satoko Fujii (Libra, 2CD)
Miscellaneous Album Notes:
- Outlaws & Armadillos: Country's Roaring '70s (1971-79
, Legacy, 2CD):
Sunday, November 18, 2018
No intro this week. A few updates but really not much on the elections,
let alone political futures for 2020. I barely managed to work in notice
of Israel's latest round of punitive bombings in Gaza. I'm sure there's
much more to it, but most of the links I did notice have to do with cease
fire negotiations (not going well, I gather) as opposed to why it happened
when. (I will note that this isn't the first time Israel launched a wave of
terror right after an American election.) I think there was also a story
about how last week was the first time the US defended Israel's occupation
of the Golan Heights, seized by Israel in the 1967 war. Another thing I
wanted to write about was the NY Times piece claiming that North Korea has
"snookered" Trump and is still developing missiles. I gather this has been
debunked in various places -- my wife is on top of this and other stories
I haven't had time for -- but I didn't land on a link that made sense of
it all. Also, I have no real opinions on possible leadership contests for
the Democrats in the new Congress. I've been pretty critical of both Nancy
Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in the past, and no doubt will again in the future.
(Whenever I think of Schumer I'm reminded of a story about how he greeted
our friend Liz Fink on the street with his customary "how am I doing?" --
to which she answered, "you're evil, man.") Still, politics is a dirty
business, and no one can afford to get too bent out of shape over it.
Whoever wins, we'll support them when we can, and oppose them when we
must. That much never changes.
Some scattered links this week:
Matthew Yglesias pieces this week:
HQ2 is a perfect opportunity to massively upgrade the DC area's commuter
What the Amazon tax breaks really mean.
New Pew poll: the public prefers congressional Democrats to Trump on most
issues: Oddly enough, the two questions Trump leads are "Jobs and econ
growth" (44-33) and "Trade policy" (40-38), with "Taxes" near even (38-39).
Strongest Democratic advantages: "The environment" (55-19), "Ethics in
government" (48-22), "Medicare" (51-26), "Health care" (51-28), and "Social
Trump's latest interview shows a president who's in way over his
head: "but what else is new?"
In some ways, the friendliest Donald Trump interviews are the most
revealing. Given the opportunity to ramble and free-associate without
any pushback whatsoever, you can see what channels his mind naturally
His latest interview with the Daily Caller shows a president who's
fundamentally out to sea. The sycophantic interviewers can't get Trump
to answer a policy question of any kind, no matter how much of a softball
they lob at him. The only subjects he is actually interested in talking
about are his deranged belief in his incredible popularity and how that
popularity is not reflected in actual vote totals because he's the victim
of a vast voter fraud conspiracy.
Actually a fairly long piece with a lot of excerpts backing up the
Trump's incompetence and authoritarianism are both scary: Takes
exception to a David Brooks tweet about Trump ("It's the incompetence,
not the authoritarianism we should be worried about"), nothing that
"autocrats are often incompetent." Indeed, you could argue that
authoritarianism is Trump's crutch against his own incompetence,
much like how people who cannot speak in the listener's language
think that more volume will do the trick. Brooks' tweet refers to
Jonathan V Last: The Vaporware Presidency, which sums Trump's
approach as: "Step 1: Propose something ridiculous. Step 2: Cause
chaos but don't deliver it. Lather, rinse, repeat." Yglesias offers
the example of promoting Thomas Homan to replace Kirstjen Nielsen
(Secretary of Homeland Security):
This is both stupid and authoritarian at the same time and for the
Trump's primary interest is in putting people in place who will
aggressively support Trump rather than people who know what they
are doing. Consequently, he'd rather have a DHS head who suggests
arresting local politicians for disagreeing with Trump than a DHS
head who advises Trump to avoid doing illegal stuff.
This is simultaneously a recipe for vaporware and for autocracy.
Homan, at the end of the day, probably won't actually go around
arresting liberal mayors -- it's just something that sounded good
to say. But when you fill your Cabinet with people who make these
kinds of suggestions and make it clear that's what you want to hear
from your top lieutenants, sooner or later, someone goes and does it.
Even more inevitable is that those who don't follow through with
their stupid/authoritarian sound bites will be taunted for failure,
giving rise to ever more shameless opportunists.
What the 2018 results tell us about 2020: "Realistically, not
much." Actually, the main difference between presidential elections
and "mid-terms" (a term I've always hated) is turnout: about 60% vs.
40%. The big change in 2018 was that turnout jumped to almost 50%.
While Republicans have been very effective at getting their base out
to vote, that bump (relative to past "mid-terms") skewed Democratic.
In fact, at this point both parties have come to believe that their
fates will mostly be decided by voter turnout (hence the R's efforts
at voter suppression). The election also revealed two regional trends.
The Southwest from Texas to California has shifted toward the Democrats,
flipping Senate seats in Arizona and Nevada. You can chalk that up to
demography, further polarized by Trump's anti-immigrant policies. Also,
Trump's gains in the belt from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin and Iowa have
mostly evaporated. There's no reason to think that either of those
shifts will reverse in 2020. I can think of a half-dozen more points
to add in moving from 2018 to 2020, but should hold them back for a
longer essay. My point is that a lot happened in 2018 that bodes well
for Democrats looking forward, and there's very little on the other
side of the ledger. Of course, Democrats could blow it by nominating
another candidate with massive credibility issues.
For another piece on shifting political grounds, see:
Stanley B Greenberg: Trump Is Beginning to Lose His Grip.
Jim Acosta vs. the Trump White House, explained:
This particular weird incident with Acosta and the staffer might be
no more remembered than a dozen other bizarre moments from that press
conference. (Trump openly mocked losing House Republican candidates,
misstated the tipping point states in the Electoral College, threatened
politically motivated investigations of House Democrats, blamed "Obama's
regime" for Russian annexation of Crimea, claimed to be unable to
understand foreign journalists' accents, wildly mischaracterized both
DACA and the Affordable Care Act, and said some stuff about China that
was so incoherent, it's hard to even call it lying.)
Also note this:
But more broadly, to cast the press as the real "opposition party" in
America -- as Trump has -- offers some meaningful tactical advantages.
Trump, in an unusual way, won the 2016 presidential election without
being popular. Not only did he win fewer votes than Hillary Clinton on
Election Day, but his favorability rating was lower than that of the
losing candidates from the 2012, 2008, 2004, and 2000 presidential
The nonpartisan press can (and does) report facts that are unflattering
to Trump. But a lack of unflattering facts or a failure by the public to
appreciate their existence has never been the foundation of Trump's
political success. And the press isn't going to do the work of an actual
opposition party, which is to formulate a political alternative that an
adequate number of people find to be sufficiently inspiring to go out and
That's the job of the Democratic Party, an institution that's had
considerable trouble attracting press attention to its own message and
ideas ever since Trump exploded on the scene. And keeping the media
focused on a self-referential feud between Trump and the media is a
way to maintain his preferred approach of trying to suck up all the
oxygen in the room.
Meanwhile, what matters to Trump isn't any actual crushing of the
media but simply driving the narrative in his core followers' heads
that the media is at war with him. With that pretense in place, critical
coverage and unflattering facts can be dismissed even as Trump selectively
courts the press to inject his own preferred ideas into the mainstream.
Aaron Rupar: Trump-appointed judge orders White House to temporarily
restore Acosta's credentials. "Even Fox News released a statement
siding with CNN."
Republicans just lost a Senate seat in Arizona because Trump is an
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slams Amazon's imminent arrival in Queens.
For a further critique, see:
Alexia Fernández Campbell: The US economy doesn't need more Amazon jobs.
It needs higher wages.
One chart that shows racism has everything and nothing to do with Republican
election wins: The chart shows a fairly strong correlation between
denial of racism and voting Republican. It's long been hard to get an
accurate survey of racism in America because much of what amounts to
racial prejudice is subconscious (or rarely conscious), and very few
people admit to being racists, even those who often act and/or talk
Michelle Alexander: The Newest Jim Crow: "Recent criminal justice
reforms contain the seeds of a frightening system of 'e-carceration.'"
Zack Beauchamp: What's going on with Brexit, explained in under 500
words: Or, in under 30 words: Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated
a "soft Brexit" deal that would retain UK access to Europe's common
market and an "open border" in Ireland. Nobody likes it. Also see:
John Cassidy: The Brexit Fantasy Goes Down in Tears; and
Jane Mayer: New Evidence Emerges of Steve Bannon and Cambridge Analytica's
Role in Brexit.
Tom Engelhardt: The Donald and the Fake News Media.
Kathy Gannon: After 17 years, many Afghans blame US for unending war.
Jeff Goodell: The President's Coal Warrior: All about EPA head
(and former coal industry lobbyist) Andrew Wheeler, and his "highly
effective campaign to sacrifice public health in favor of the
Glenn Greenwald: As the Obama DOJ Concluded, Prosecution of Julian Assange
for Publishing Documents Poses Grave Threats to Press Freedom.
Michael Grunwald: How Everything Became the Culture War: I guess this
is an important subject, but this could be treated better. One problem is
the meticulously balanced centrism:
At a time when Blue and Red America have split into two warring tribes
inhabiting two separate realities, and "debate" has been redefined to
evoke split-screen cable-news screamfests, this ferocious politicization
of everything might seem obvious and unavoidable. . . . Democrats and
Republicans are increasingly self-segregated and mutually disdainful,
each camp deploying the furious language of victimhood to justify its
fear and loathing of the gullible deplorables in the other.
This is followed by a list of caricatures, evenly sorted between two
camps, except that a strange asymmetry sets in: the terminology, not to
mention the ominous overtones, comes almost exclusively from the right.
For instance, there is nothing remotely like a Church of Global Warming
Leftists. It's not that leftists cannot play culture war games, but the
right uses them as proxies for policies never get aired out (like the
promise to "repeal and replace" ACA with something "better and cheaper").
The reason culture war has increasingly swamped political discourse is
that conservatives have little chance of convincing most Americans of
the merits of their program, so they try to manipulate what they hope
is a viable target base with appeals to their identity, and big lies
and massive shots of fear and loathing. It's gotten much worse in the
last couple years, but isn't that just Trump? I don't know whether he
tries to turn everything into culture war because he has some shrewd
insight into mass psychology or because he has no grasp of policy
whatsoever -- he certainly never manages to say anything intelligible
on whatever he's up to.
I think it's safe to say Obama was never like that, even as he was
subjected to repeated attempts to impugn his patriotism, his religion,
his honesty, his dignity. It's true that not every Republican took that
tack, but many did (not least Trump himself). I just ran across a meme
in my Facebook feed today that is possibly the most offensive one I've
seen: "The Obamas continue to linger, like the stench of human waste
that fouls the air and assaults the nostrils." The comments just build
Umair Irfan: Why the wildfire in Northern California was so severe:
"Heat, wind, and drought -- and long-term climate trends -- conspired
to create the deadly Camp Fire." Also:
Brian Resnick: Northern California now has the worst air quality in the
world, thanks to wildfire smoke; and
Gabriel Thompson: As Toxic Smoke Blankets California, Who Has the
Ability to Escape? Subhed ("while the wealthy can flee toward cleaner
air, the poorest have no choice but to stay put") isn't exactly true on
any count, not that the wealthy don't have more options. But the wealthy
also need to note that they're the ones who own most of the property
threatened by climate-driven disaster. Beachfront houses aren't owned
by poor people, nor are most of the houses destroyed in California towns
like Paradise and Malibu. Moreover, that "bad air" map covers a lot of
wealthy towns, and air is about the only thing rich and poor still share
alike. Maybe some ultra-rich folk hopped in their jets and went elsewhere,
but most middling property owners are as stuck as everyone else.
Paul Krugman: Why Was Trump's Tax Cut a Fizzle? No surprises here.
Just a review of the things Republicans say to get special favors for
their donors, and how quickly they are forgotten.
Last week's blue wave means that Donald Trump will go into the 2020
election with only one major legislative achievement: a big tax cut
for corporations and the wealthy. Still, that tax cut was supposed
to accomplish big things. Republicans thought it would give them a
big electoral boost, and they predicted dramatic economic gains. What
they got instead, however, was a big fizzle.
The political payoff, of course, never arrived. And the economic
results have been disappointing. True, we've had two quarters of
fairly fast economic growth, but such growth spurts are fairly common --
there was a substantially bigger spurt in 2014, and hardly anyone
noticed. And this growth was driven largely by consumer spending
and, surprise, government spending, which wasn't what the tax cutters
Meanwhile, there's no sign of the vast investment boom the law's
backers promised. Corporations have used the tax cut's proceeds largely
to buy back their own stock rather than to add jobs and expand capacity.
Also by Krugman:
The Tax Cut and the Balance of Payments (Wonkish). Also:
Jim Tankersley/Matt Phillips: Trump's Tax Cut Was Supposed to Change
Corporate Behavior. Here's What Happened.
Caroline Orr: US joins Russia, North Korea in refusing to sign cybersecurity
pact: This may not be the right deal -- one major plank is to protect
"intellectual property" which often is meant to force an arbitrary division
of the world into owners and renters -- but some sort of effort like this
should be negotiated, and it needs to include Russia and the US, simply
because those (along with China and Israel) are the nations with the worst
track record of waging cyberwar. Take away the idea of cyberwar, and you
could even start to crack down on everyday nuisance hacking, which would
make all of our lives easier.
Sarah Smarsh: A Blue Wave in Kansas? Don't Be So Surprised: The
only state which has elected three female governors, all Democrats
(also a female three-term Senator, Republican Nancy Kassebaum).
Michael Robbins: Looking Busy: The Rise of Pointless Work: A review
of David Graeber's latest book, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory.
Matt Taibbi: Trump's Defense Spending Is Out of Control, and Poised to
Sabrina Tavernise: These Americans Are Done With Politics: "The
Exhausted Majority needs a break."
A deep new study of the American electorate, "Hidden Tribes," concludes
that two out of three Americans are far more practical than that narrative
suggests. Most do not see their lives through a political lens, and when
they have political views the views are far less rigid than those of the
highly politically engaged, ideologically orthodox tribes.
The study, an effort to understand the forces that drive political
polarization, surveyed a representative group of 8,000 Americans. The
nonpartisan organization that did it, More in Common, paints a picture
of a society that is far more disengaged -- and despairing over divisions --
than it is divided. At its heart is a vast and often overlooked political
middle that feels forgotten in the vitriol, as if the country has gone on
without it. It calls that group the Exhausted Majority, a group that
represented two-thirds of the survey.
"It feels very lonely out here," said Jamie McDaniel, a 36-year-old
home health care worker in Topeka, Kan., one of several people in the
study who was interviewed for this article. "Everybody is so right or
left, and you're just kind of standing there in the middle saying,
Rachel Withers: CIA reportedly concludes that Jamal Khashoggi was killed
on the Saudi crown prince's orders. Also:
Alex Ward: Trump doesn't want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His
new sanctions prove it. I don't doubt Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's
culpability here, even with the CIA attesting to it, but I also don't think
the US should be unilaterally sanctioning Saudi Arabia or its citizens,
except perhaps through an international process, perhaps based on the World
Court or the International Criminal Court. On the other hand, the US does
need to rethink its relationship to Saudi Arabia. The US should cut off
all arms sales and support as long as Saudi Arabia is engaged in its war
of aggression against Yemen. The US should also stop catering to Saudi
hostility against Iran and seek to negotiate deals that would allow Iran
to enjoy normal, mutually beneficial relationships with the US and its
various neighbors. But the idea that the US should act as judge and jury
in deciding to punish other states and people is arrogant and unfair, a
force of injustice and destabilization which ultimately does more harm
Speaking of Saudi Arabia and the mischief MBS is up to:
David Hearst: Bin Salman 'tried to persuade Netanyahu to go to war in
Gaza' say sources. Note that Israel in fact launched a series of
attacks on Gaza
starting on November 11; also see
Alex Ward: Israel and Gaza just saw their worst violence in years. It
could get worse.
Rachel Withers: Weekend midterms update: Democrats concede Florida and
Georgia but complete their Orange County sweep: "Plus, where the
rest of the outstanding races stand." For an earlier rundown, see:
All the House seats Democrats have flipped in the 2018 elections.
Withers also wrote:
Trump skipped Arlington Cemetery on Veterans Day because he was "extremely
Trump attacks retired Navy SEAL Admiral Bill McRaven, suggests he
should have gotten bin Laden sooner.
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Music: current count 30591  rated (+32), 300  unrated (+8).
Once again, a long, slow slog through
Roundup links pushed Music Week into Tuesday. I wrote a brief
summary/introduction Monday evening, and was prepared to post then,
but figured I'd roll this post into the same update. Then I found
myself spending a few hours Tuesday afternoon adding links --
generally trying to limit myself to items posted by Sunday, but
wound up adding a few new ones in the end.
For instance, since I already had a long list of Matthew Yglesias
links, I added one called
The 2018 electorate was older, whiter, and better educated than in
2016 that I ultimately decided was misleading: those are shifts
that occur in every midterm election from the previous presidential
election, because many fewer people vote in midterms. On the other
hand, you get the exact opposite effect if you compare 2018 to 2014,
2010, etc. And that happened precisely because many more people voted
in 2018 than in 2014, 2010, . . . in fact, you have to go back to
1966 to find a midterm election with higher voter participation (see
Camila Domonoske: A Boatload of Ballots: Midterm Voter Turnout Hit 50-Year
High). This year's turnout was 47.5%, down from 60.1% in 2016, but way
up from 36.7% in 2014.
Still, I had to stop somewhere, so I left four Tuesday Yglesias links
for next week: the most important is
Democrats' blue wave was much larger than early takes suggested.
Also especially interesting is
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slams Amazon's imminent arrival in Queens.
I'm not sure that the left much less Democrats in general have developed
a coherent response to the repeated scamming of states and cities by big
corporations like Amazon -- and the list goes on forever, ranging from
the $4 billion Foxconn con in Wisconsin to the dozens of local outrages
we fend with every year here in Wichita -- but this one has the makings
of serious public exposure.
As for music, it's been a fairly typical week. Solid rate count,
would have been higher except for a new 3-CD Art Pepper archive set,
followed by an older (and even better) 4-CD set that I had only heard
a sampler from at the time. Late last week I got Downbeat's
December issue with their 83rd Annual Readers Poll results, so I
started out by checking out leading albums I hadn't heard. I think
I had only heard 5 of the top 10 new albums -- also (less surprising)
5 of the top 10 historical albums -- so I had some work to do there.
Most of those were on last week's list (Chick Corea/Steve Gadd, Jazz
at Lincoln Center Orchestra/Wynton Marsalis, Joey Alexander, Kurt
Elling, and further down Esperanza Spalding), although the only
missing historical album I found was Jimi Hendrix's Both Sides
of the Sky, which led me to the old one below.
First Rays of the New Rising Sun was the only non-jazz
album on this week's list until Sunday, when ventured into a batch
of country albums in Robert Christgau's
Expert Witness. I don't think the Pistol Annies album is as good
as he says, but figure it's good enough, as are the others (Becky Warren,
Mandy Barnett, and Robbie Fulks/Linda Gail Lewis -- the latter was an
A- here some weeks ago).
I haven't done an update of the
Christgau Consumer Guide database since late January: initially
because it's takes enough work I tend to put it off, but then I
suffered a one-two punch as first my local server than my public
server crashed. When I pulled the data back from archive, I ran
into a character set incompatibility that made it impractical to
update the database (i.e., there was no point changing anything
until the underlying problem was fixed). I floundered with it for
a while, then put it off, working on other things instead. Finally
I took another shot at it last week, and got to the root of the
problem (a hidden flag in the server-side export utility that I
hadn't run into before). Once I got a clean copy of the database,
I started adding in more recent reviews. I'm up through September
now, and will catch up in a couple days (maybe tonight).
I should be able to just update the database without reconciling
the entire website. Since the server crash, I've been doing limited
incremental updates every week (instead of waiting months, as was my
previous custom). There are tradeoffs: I could wind up forgetting
something, but I'm in the middle of a bunch of programming changes
because a lot of functions have been dropped from PHP 7 (which is
what I'm running locally, vs. PHP 5 on the public server). Until I
get all of those things fixed (hundreds of changes) I don't dare do
a full synch up. In the past I've always done database and website
file updates at the same time, but they are independent enough I
should be able to do each as needed. I guess we'll see.
New records rated this week:
- Richie Cole: Cannonball (2018, RCP): [cd]: B+(**)
- Andrew Cyrille: Lebroba (2017 , ECM): [r]: B+(***)
- Josephine Davies: Satori (2016 , Whirlwind): [r]: A-
- Josephine Davies' Satori: In the Corners of Clouds (2018, Whirlwind): [bc]: A-
- John Escreet: Learn to Live (2018, Blue Room): [r]: B+(*)
- David Hazeltine: The Time Is Now (2018, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(*)
- Fredrik Kronkvist: Kronicles (2017 , Connective): [r]: B+(**)
- Chris Lightcap: Superette (2018, The Royal Potato Family): [bc]: B+(*)
- Donny McCaslin: Blow. (2018, Motéma): [r]: B+(*)
- Makaya McCraven: Universal Beings (2017-18 , International Anthem): [r]: A-
- John O'Gallagher Trio: Live in Brooklyn (2015 ]2016], Whirlwind): [r]: B+(***)
- Pistol Annies: Interstate Gospel (2018, RCA Nashville): [r]: A-
- Nikita Rafaelov: Spirit of Gaia (2016-17 , Gotta Let It Out): [cd]: B+(**)
- Rudy Royston: Flatbed Buggy (2018, Greenleaf Music): [r]: B+(**)
- Jerome Sabbagh/Greg Tuohey: No Filter (2017 , Sunnyside): [r]: B
- Yuhan Su: City Animals (2018, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
- Subtone: Moose Blues (2018, Laika): [r]: B+(*)
- Harry Vetro: Northern Ranger (2018, T.Sound): [cd]: B+(**)
- Cuong Vu 4Tet: Change in the Air (2017 , RareNoise): [bc]: B+(**)
- Becky Warren: Undesirable (2018, self-released): [r]: A-
- Jeff Williams: Lifelike (2017 [2018[, Whirlwind): [r]: B+(***)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Charlie Haden & Brad Mehldau: Long Ago and Far Away (2007 , Impulse): [r]: A-
- Keith Jarrett: La Fenice (2006 , ECM, 2CD): [r]: B+(*)
- Art Pepper: The Art Pepper Quartet (1956 , Omnivore): [r]: A-
- Art Pepper: Unreleased Art Pepper Vol. 10: Toronto (1977 , Widow's Taste, 3CD): [cd]: A-
Old music rated this week:
- Jimi Hendrix: First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1968-70 , MCA): [r]: A-
- Joakim Milder: Ways (1990-92 , Dragon): [r]: B+(*)
- Red Mitchell/Joakim Milder/Roger Kellaway: Live in Stockholm (1991 , Dragon): [r]: B+(**)
- Art Pepper: Blues for the Fisherman: Unreleased Art Pepper Vol VI (1980 , Widow's Taste, 4CD): [r]: A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- The 14 Jazz Orchestra: The Future Ain't What It Used to Be (Dabon Music): January 1
- Anguish: Anguish (RareNoise): November 30
- Eraldo Bernocchi: Like a Fire That Consumes All Before It (RareNoise): advance, November 30
- Magnus Broo Trio: Rules (Moserobie)
- The Gil Evans Orchestra: Hidden Treasures Monday Nights: Volume One (Bopper Spock Suns Music): December 7
- Adam Forkelid: Reminiscence (Moserobie)
- David Friesen: My Faith, My Life (Origin, 2CD): November 16
- Thomas Marriott: Romance Language (Origin): November 16
- Joakim Milder/Fredrik Ljungkvist/Mathias Landraeus/Filip Augustson/Fredrik Rundkvist: The Music of Anders Garstedt (Moserobie)
- Jay Thomas With the Oliver Groenewald Newnet: I Always Knew (Origin): November 16
- Piet Verbist: Suite Réunion (Origin): November 16
- Aida Bird Wolfe: Birdie (self-released): November 15
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
When I went to bed around 5AM after Tuesday's elections, the Democrats
had won the House and beat Kris Kobach here in Kansas, but it seemed like
a lot of close elections had broke bad. I heard Wednesday that a couple
elections had flipped: Ned Lamont picked up the CT governorship, and more
importantly, Scott Walker lost in Wisconsin. Tester pulled out his Senate
seat in Montana. Nevada had looked promising on Tuesday, and firmed up,
while Arizona got close, and even started to lean toward Democrat Krysten
Sinema. Florida tightened up.
Still, could (should) have been better. Compared to 2014 and 2018, the
Democrats did much better on several counts: they ran better candidates
and contested more seats; and they did a better job of getting out their
vote. Trump didn't get a popular opinion honeymoon after he took office.
He was deeply offensive to most Democrats from the start, and everything
he did prodded them to resist more fervently. That's what motivated people
to run, to campaign, to organize, and ultimately to vote, and often to
win -- although even some of the losses, like Beto O'Rourke in Texas, or
Stacey Abrams in Georgia, were close enough they seemed like progress.
On the other hand, Trump and the Republicans haven't lost much ground.
They've done a lot of things that in themselves are very unpopular --
the big corporate tax cut, for instance, and they dodged blame for ACA
repeal only by failing to pass it -- but their base has held firm, they
still have a lot of money, a strong captive media, and a very effective
ground game. Of course, it helped that the economy hasn't capsized yet,
that their reckless foreign policy hasn't led to major wars, that their
corporate deregulation hasn't produced major disasters yet, and that
only a few of their corrupt minions have been convicted or indicted.
On the other hand, their global warming denialism is beginning to wear
thin with major hurricanes and an unprecedentedly horrific fire season.
Branch Rickey used to say that luck is the residue of design. Trump's
political designs are so faulty that it's unlikely his luck will hold.
On the other hand, he did something in 2018 that Obama had failed to
do in 2014 and 2010, which is that he campaigned relentlessly for his
party in the months and weeks leading up to the election -- indeed, he
never really stopped campaigning after 2016. He hasn't been all that
effective, mostly because he isn't really very popular, but he did keep
his base enthused, and (unlike in 2006, when everyone was sick and tired
of Bush and Cheney) he got his base out to vote. It's going to take a
lot of hard work to get enough people to realize how harmful Republicans
are to most people's interests. And expect a lot of noise and distraction
from Fox and friends along the way: the "caravan" story was as good an
example of truly fake news as you can imagine. Hard to say whether how
much it helped Republicans, but it sucked a lot of air from broadcast
news during the last few weeks.
Democracy took a step forward last Tuesday. A small one. Hopefully
the first of many.
Quick election results recap:
US Senate: Republicans gained two seats, for a 51-46 edge, with
3 undecided: Mississippi (runoff, R favored), Florida (R +13k), Arizona
(D +33k [since I wrote this called for the Democrat]), so it will probably
wind up 53-47 (counting Sanders and King
with the Democrats). Only one-third of the Senate's seats are up for
election each two years, and this year the Democrats were much more
vulnerable (after exceptionally strong showings in 2006 and 2012). To
put the net losses of 2-4 seats in perspective, Democrats won (counting
AZ but not FL/MS) 24 seats to the Republicans' 10. Democrats won 57.4%
of the Senate vote, vs. 41.0% for Republicans. This split was inflated
because both of California's "top two" primary winners are Democrats.
All four (counting FL) Republican pickups were in states Trump won --
3 by 10+ points, 2 against Democrats who won in 2012 after Republicans
nominated especially controversial "Tea Party" candidates. On the other
hand, Democrats won 7 Senate seats (counting AZ) in states carried by
Trump, plus defeated a Republican incumbent in a state Trump lost (NV).
US House of Representatives: Democrats gained 32 seats, with 10
still undecided, for a current 227-198 advantage. Democrats received
51.4% of the popular vote, vs. 46.7% for Republicans, for a margin of
Governors: Democrats gained 7, giving them 23; Republicans lost
6 (assuming FL and GA go Republican; the difference is that Republicans
picked up previously independent Alaska). Popular vote favored Democrats
49.4-48.2%, as state races were less polarized than Congressional ones
(e.g., Republicans won easily in MA, MD, and VT). Democrats gained: ME,
MI, WI, IL, KS, NM, and NV. Republicans gained AK.
538: What Went Down in the 2018 Midterms: Live blog until they got
tired and signed off.
538: The 2018 Midterms, in 4 Charts.
Some scattered links this week:
Matthew Yglesias: Trump voters stood by Trump in the midterms -- but there
just aren't enough of them: Trump was elected president in 2016 with
just 46% of the vote. Republicans got about the same 46% of the vote in
the 2018 congressional elections, so a cursory analysis suggests that they
held their own, while everyone else (including independent voters for Jill
Stein and Gary Johnson) joined the Democrats. Probably not that simple:
Republicans did better than 46% in 2016 congressional races, so they lost
that edge this year. In particular, they lost ground in the Rust Belt and
in the Latino Belt from Texas through Arizona and Nevada to California,
while they hung on more effectively in a swath from Florida up to Idaho.
Other Yglesias pieces:
The 2018 electorate was older, whiter, and better educated than in
2016: "Democrats hit some of their GOTV targets but missed others."
OK, but isn't the relevant comparison 2014 to 2018? Turnout was up
for a midterm (2018 and 2014), but down from the presidential election
(2016). From 2016 to 2018, 18-39 turnout was -7,but from 2014 to 2018,
it was +4. White was +2 vs. 2016, but -3 vs. 2014.
Matthew Whitaker's appointment is the latest Trump Tax the GOP is paying:
"A nominee whose only qualification is his unfitness."
Matthew Whitaker is, by any standard, a wildly unsuitable choice to serve
as Attorney General of the United States.
He's a small time crook who finished fourth in the Iowa GOP Senate
primary back in 2014. He apparently got his job as Chief of Staff in the
Justice Department because Trump liked his TV hits, experience that would
at best qualify him to one the DOJ's chief spokesperson not to be chief
of staff and certainly not to run the Justice Department. Meanwhile,
Kellyanne Conway's husband, a prominent Washington attorney, says
Whitaker's appointment is illegal.
The point, however, is that in a normal administration the question
of legality would simply never arise here. The Justice Department is full
of competent, professional, Senate-confirmed officials who would be more
suitable than Whitaker on both substance and procedural grounds. It's
commonplace in liberal circles to see Whitaker as an inappropriate
selection in light of his previous comments about Robert Mueller's
investigation, but the truth is the Mueller issue is his only conceivable
qualification for the job. Trump's problem with the senior staff at the
Justice Department is he has no way of knowing whether or not they share
with Jeff Sessions and Ron Rosenstein a reluctance to fatally compromise
the rule of law in pursuit of Trump's personal self-interest.
House Democrats must resist Trump's infrastructure trap.
House Democrats must resist Trump's infrastructure trap.
The tragedy of Amazon's HQ2 selections, explained: After announcing
they'd like to auction off the location of a second headquarters site,
they've evidently settled on two winners: one in Virginia's DC suburbs,
the other in Long Island City, Queens, New York. Lots of problems.
Matt Whitaker suggested the attorney general might keep Robert Mueller's
conclusions secret forever.
Debbie Stabenow reelected to the Senate.
Ned Lamont elected governor of Connecticut.
Trump's bizarre post-election press conference, explained.
But shocking as it was in its way, it confirmed what we know about Trump.
He is shameless, relentlessly dishonest, poorly informed about policy,
disrespectful of the norms and principles of constitutional government,
and fundamentally dangerous. He also continues to benefit from a benign
economic situation and from a lack of crises abroad that make a serious
impact on the typical American. For all of our sakes, we'd better hope
that holds up because he does not appear to have the capacity to respond
in a remotely appropriate way to any kind of adversity. . . .
The price of this sort of conduct has already been high. An island
destroyed, a wave of Trump-inspired bombings, a needless destabilization
of relations with key allies, and a growing diminution of the standards
of conduct that we accept for public officials. But for most Americans,
day-to-day life has proceeded apace and that's put a floor under Trump's
approval ratings that's been good enough to keep the whole Republican
Party afloat given gerrymandering and a skewed Senate map. Losing the
House would be a wake-up call for a normal president, but there is no
waking up Trump -- only the hope that nothing goes too badly wrong while
he lasts in office.
Tammy Baldwin reelected to US Senate: a progressive champion wins in
Sherrod Brown reelected to US Senate: old-time labor liberalism triumphs
over Ohio's rightward drift.
Why Stacey Abrams isn't conceding yet.
4 winners and 2 losers from the 2018 midterm elections: Winners:
"the favored quarter backlash"; Donald Trump; "the blue wall"; gerrymandering.
Losers: Taylor Swift; "the live models." The explanation on Trump:
And while losing the House is the death knell for the Republican Party's
legislative agenda, Trump himself has rarely seemed to care that much
about the GOP legislative agenda. Indeed, the death of the GOP legislative
agenda could even be good news for Trump politically since much of that
agenda was toxically unpopular. An expanded majority in the Senate,
meanwhile, will let Trump do things he actually cares about, like replace
Cabinet members and other executive branch officials who've displeased
him, while continuing to keep the judicial confirmation conveyor belt
that's so important to his base moving.
The lesson of the midterms: resistance works.
Radley Balko: Jeff Sessions, the doughty bigot:
Jeff Sessions's final act as attorney general was perfectly on-brand.
On the way out of office, he signed an order making it more difficult
for the Justice Department to investigate and implement reform at police
departments with patterns of abuse, questionable shootings, racism, and
other constitutional violations. Sessions once called such investigations --
like those that turned up jaw-dropping abuses in places such as Ferguson,
Mo., Baltimore and Chicago -- "one of the most dangerous, and rarely
discussed, exercises of raw power." He has had only cursory criticism of
the horrific abuses actually described in those reports (which he later
conceded he sometimes didn't bother to read), which disproportionately
affect blacks and Latinos. For Sessions, it is the federal government's
investigation of such abuses that amounts to not just an unjustified
"exercise of raw power," but a "most dangerous" one.
Bob Bauer: An Open-and-Shut Violation of Campaign-Finance Law.
Jonathan Blitzer: Jeff Sessions Is Out, but His Dark Vision for Immigration
Policy Lives On.
James Carroll: Entering the Second Nuclear Age?: With his withdrawal
from the INF treaty with Russia, and with big plans to renovate and rebuild
America's nuclear arsenal, "Donald Trump welcomes the age of "usable" nuclear
weapons." Also at
Michael Klare: On the Road to World War III?.
William Hartung: The pentagon's Plan to Dominate the Economy:
Industrial policy should not be a dirty word. The problem is: the
Pentagon shouldn't be in charge of it. The goal of an effective
industrial policy should be to create well-paying jobs, especially
in sectors that meet pressing national needs like rebuilding America's
crumbling infrastructure and developing alternative energy technologies
that can help address the urgent dangers posed by climate change.
Tom Engelhardt: Autocrats, Incorporation: Thoughts on Election Day 2018.
Arnold Isaacs: Misremembering Vietnam: Alt title: "Making America's
Wars Great Again: The Pentagon Whitewashes a Troubling Past."
The cliché that our armed forces are the best and mightiest in the world --
even if the U.S. military hasn't won any of its significant wars in the
last 50 years -- resonates in President Trump's promise to make America
great again. Many Americans, clearly including him, associate that slogan
with military power. And we don't just want to be greater again in the
future; we also want to have been greater in the past than we really were.
To that end, we regularly forget some facts and invent others that will
make our history more comfortable to remember.
Rory Fanning: Will the War Stories Ever End? Author of a book of his
own war stories, Worth Fighting For: An Army Ranger's Journey Out of
the Military and Across America (2014, Haymarket Books).
Maureen Dowd: Who's the Real American Psycho? A look back at Dick
Cheney, occasioned by the screening of a new movie called Vice.
As for the "psycho" question, such things take time and perspective.
If you got sick eight years ago and got sick again now, you won't be
able to make meaningful comparisons until (and if) you survive and
recover. Between Trump ("a frothing maniac with a meat cleaver") and
Cheney ("a professional assassin") the latter may still in theory be
the more menacing, but the threat right now is so immediate and so
open-ended that it's the one you have to deal with right now. Dowd,
by the way, also recently wrote this clever piece on Saudi Arabia:
Step Away From the Orb:
Our Faustian deal was this: As long as the Saudis kept our oil prices
low, bought our fighter jets, housed our fleets and drones and gave us
cover in the region, they could keep their country proudly medieval.
It was accepted wisdom that it was futile to press the Saudis on the
feudal, the degradation of women and human rights atrocities, because it
would just make them dig in their heels. Even Hillary Clinton, as secretary
of state, never made an impassioned Beijing-style speech about women in
Saudi Arabia being obliterated under a black tarp.
Atul Gawande: Why Doctors Hate Their Computers: Fairly long piece on
computerized medical records, which should be great to have but are a lot
of work to maintain, and the slacker and sloppier you get about that, the
less great they are. First point I take from this is that there is a lot
of real work to be done to make the health care system work better beyond
the obvious advantages of single-payer insurance -- something that tends
to be forgotten in that argument. Gawande identifies several problems with
the software, ranging from its impact on focus and communication to the
increasing brittleness of sprawing code systems. One thing worth exploring
is how open source might help, but you also have to look at how to finance
development and support. Another dimension is the increasing use of AI. I
believe that the only way to build trust in complex software is through
open source, but what's needed can't be developed as a free hacker hobby.
Masha Gessen: After the White House Banned Jim Acosta, Should Other Journalists
Boycott Its Press Briefings? Also:
Margaret Sullivan: Words and walkouts aren't enough> CNN should sue Trump
over revoking Acosta's press pass.
Adam Hochschild: A Hundred Years After the Armistice: Due to the world's
fascination with round numbers, I'm reminded that our Nov. 11 Veterans Day
originally started as Armistice Day, marking the end of what was then called
the Great War but was soon eclipsed, now better known as World War I. A date
that should remind all how precious peace is has since become a celebration
of American militarism, as we thank the hapless soldiers and gloss over the
politicians who put them in harm's way. One could write reams about that war,
and indeed its centennary has brought dozens of new books out. Hochschild
wrote one I read back in 2011: To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and
Rebellion, 1914-1918, which focused on anti-war resisters in Britain
(like Bertrand Russell -- as close to a hero as I ever had). The tag line
on this piece is: "If you think the First World War began senselessly,
consider how it ended." He recounts several stories of how allied generals
(especially Americans, notably including white commanders of negro troops)
continued to launch offensives after the armistice was agreed to up to
the moment (11AM) it was to take effect, resulting in thousands of
avoidable casualties. He also notes, in less depth, the insistence of
French general Foch on making the armistice as punitive as possible,
leaving a "toxic legacy" that lead to a second world war. Many more
books have been written about the post-armistice Versailles Treaty,
like Arno Mayer's massive Politics and Diplomacy of Peacemaking,
but the best title to date is David Fromkin's A Peace to End All
Peace. The excessively punitive Versailles Treaty is now widely
acknowledge as a cause of WWII. (Arno Mayer has referred to the two
World Wars as 30 Years War of the Twentieth Century.) More important
in my mind is that Versailles failed to repudiate imperialism. In fact,
Britain, France, Italy, and Japan extended their empires through war,
especially whetting the appetites of the latter, while leaving Germany
and others convinced that they needed to enlarge themselves to compete
with the rich nations. By the way,
Josh Marshall recommends The Vanquished: Why the First World
War Failed to End.
Another interesting piece on the war:
Patrick Chovanec: World War I Relived Day by Day.
Fred Kaplan: Could House Democrats Cancel the Pentagon's Blank Check?
Perhaps, but it would take uncommon discipline, given that more than a
few Democrats are deficit hawks and/or Pentagon Keynesians. Given narrow
margins (and the absence of anything like the "Hastert Rule" for Democrats),
Republicans could try to forge opportunistic alliances with either group.
One thing for sure is that House Democrats won't be able to raise taxes,
so there's very little they can do about deficits. On the other hand,
spending bills originate in the House, so with a little discipline they
can keep important programs funded and cut useless and even damaging
ones. But, as I said, that's not something they've ever been much good
Kaplan also wrote:
Trump Retreats From the West: "The president's performance in Paris
was a stunning abdication of global leadership." That sounds like good
news to me -- not to deny that Trump did it pretty ugly. Maybe Trump
was peeved at this:
Macron denounces nationalism as a 'betrayal of patriotism' in rebuke
to Trump at WWI remembrance. Then,
Trump skipped a US cemetery visit abroad. The French army trolled him for
avoiding the rain. But the fact is, Trump's "America First" fetish
doesn't leave him much to offer the rest of the world -- where, as in
everyday life, generosity is appreciated and peevishness scorned. On the
other hand, for many years now US administrations have done little that
actually helps either people abroad or at home that we'd all be better
off if the US (especially its military) would back away. For more on
Trump's Paris trip, see
Jen Kirby: The controversies of Trump's Paris trip, explained.
Paul Krugman: What the Hell Happened to Brazil? (Wonkish): "How did
an up-and-coming economy suffer such a severe slump?"
Robert Kuttner: The Crash That Failed: Review of the latest big book
on the 2008 financial collapse, the "great recession" that followed, and
various government efforts to clean up the mess: Adam Tooze's Crashed:
How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World. Interesting
sidelight of an illustration:
William Powhida: Griftopia, based on Matt Taibbi's book.
Dara Lind: The asylum ban -- Trump's boldest immigration power grab yet --
Mark Mazzetti/Ronen Bergman/David D Kirkpatrick: Saudis Close to Crown
Prince Discussed Killing Other Enemies a Year Before Khashoggi's Death.
Bill McKibben: A Very Grim Forecast: On Global Warming of 1.5°C: An
IPCC Special Report.
Yascha Mounk: Is More Democracy Always Better Democracy? Noted for
future reference, no agreement implied. Author of a recent centrist
manifesto: The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger &
How to Save It. Reviews Frances McCall Rosenbluth: Responsible
Parties: Saving Democracy From Itself (2018) -- arguing: "the
most important ingredient of a functioning democracy . . . is strong
political parties that can keep their rank-and-file members in check" --
and looks back to Marty Cohen/David Karol/Hans Noel/John Zaller: The
Party Decides: Presidential Nominations Before and After Reform
(2008). Mounk's prime example of "too much democracy" was the 1972
nomination and loss of George McGovern, although for a token example
Republican he cites Mark Sanford's primary loss to a Trump zealot (who
last week lost Sanford's SC district). The main problem with Mounk's
thesis is that organizations which lack effective democratic oversight
almost inevitably wind up putting their leaders' elite interests ahead
of their voters. At least with McGovern's Democratic Party reforms,
the party was able to nominate a presidential candidate who reflected
the majority view among rank-and-file Democrats to quit the Vietnam
War. That sounds more to me like an example of democracy working --
especially more than 2016, when the party elites prevailed in picking
a candidate who was even more unpopular. (Sure, Hillary Clinton polled
better than McGovern, but consider her opponent.) As for the Republicans,
you can fault their rank-and-file for favoring someone as odious as
Donald Trump, but at least the limited democracy Republicans practice
saved them from the party elites nominating Jeb Bush.
Rachel Withers: Trump responds to worst fires in California's history
by threatening to withhold federal aid. Also on the fires:
Robinson Meyer: The Worst Is Yet to Come for California's Wildfires; also
Umair Irfan: California's wildfires are hardly "natural" -- humans made
them worse at every step.
Benjamin Wittes: It's Probably Too Late to Stop Mueller: The
morning after the election, Trump fired Attorney General Jeff
Sessions and installed Matthew Whitaker as acting AG, making it
easier for Trump to terminate Robert Mueller's prosecution of
Trump-Russia issues. Wittes takes stock:
Eighteen months ago, I said, President Donald Trump had an opportunity
to disrupt the Russia investigation: He had fired the FBI director and
had rocked the Justice Department back on its heels. But Trump had
dithered. He had broadcast his intentions too many times. And in the
meantime, Mueller had moved decisively, securing important indictments
and convictions, and making whatever preparations were necessary for
hostile fire. And now Democrats were poised to take the House of
Representatives. The window of opportunity was gone.
In the 48 hours since Trump fired Jeff Sessions and installed Matthew
Whitaker as acting attorney general, I have had occasion to wonder whether
I was being overly optimistic a week ago. Whitaker is the kind of bad
dream from which career Justice Department officials wake up at night in
cold sweats. He's openly political. The president is confident in his
loyalty and that he won't recuse himself from the investigation --
notwithstanding his public statements about it and his having chaired the
campaign of one of the grand-jury witnesses. There are legal questions
about his installation at the department's helm. And he's known as the
White House's eyes and ears at Justice.
By the way:
Jerome Corsi says Mueller will soon indict him for perjury.
Finally, some more election-related links:
Alleen Brown: Pipeline Opponents Make Gains in Midterms as Federal Judge
Halts Keystone XL Pipeline.
John Cassidy: Weekend Reading: From the Midterms to Matthew Whitaker
and Stormy Daniels; he also wrote:
Make No Mistake, the Midterm Elections Were a Democratic Victory and a
Rebuke of Trump..
Rachel M Cohen: Progressives Win on Medicaid Expansion, Public Education,
and Voting Rights Through Ballot Initiatives.
David Dayen: Democrats Who Voted to Deregulate Wall Street Got Wiped Out
in a Setback for Bank Lobbyists.
Andrew Gelman: Why the 2018 Midterms May Have Been Bluer Than You
David A Graham: Why Trump Is the Favorite in 2020.
Shaun King: Why It's a Big Deal That Four Black Candidates Won Their
State Attorney General Races: In Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, and
Paul Krugman: Real America Versus Senate America: "Some of us are more
equal than others, and they like Trump."
Aaron Mak: A Black Security Guard Caught a Shooting Suspect. Police Arrived --
and Killed the Guard.
Jane Mayer: Is Kris Kobach's Defeat in Kansas a Model for How to Beat
Trumpism? Not really. First point is that Kobach was a really awful
candidate, to the point that he was a public embarrassment, and quite
a few Republicans realized that he would continue to hurt the party as
long as he held office. (The list of Republicans who endorsed Kelly ran
over 100.) Second point is that Kelly campaigned almost exclusively
against the Brownback legacy in the state, whereas Kobach hung his
campaign almost exclusively on Trump's coattails. Personally, I thought
Kelly missed an opportunity there as Kobach is objectively worse than
Brownback ever was, but she clearly didn't want to campaign against
Trump in Kansas, and in the end she didn't have to. The downside of
not lumping all of the Republicans together is that she had almost no
coattails: the Democrats picked up one House seat, but they won no
other state offices (despite having a strong Secretary of State
candidate running for Kobach's old office). The state house is still
solid Republican, and Kelly won't be able to legislate anything that
the R's don't go for (she'll even have trouble sustaining vetoes).
Not that we aren't happy with her win (and his loss, but he'll still
be around, winding up with a Trump Admin job somewhere, and then go
on do bad movement law work, even after he gets debarred.) Democrats
can't depend on R's nominating candidates as inept and obscene as
Kobach (although Trump is in that league). And Democrats have a lot
of work to do to become a majority party here.
Cas Mudde: Don't be fooled. The midterms were not a bad night for
Trump. Key line: "Trump's biggest victory, however, was within
the Republican party. . . . Trump has shaped the Republican party
in his image instead."
Alex Pareene: Political power never lasts. Democrats need to use theirs
while they have it.
Steve Phillips: Do the Math. Moderate Democrats Will Not Win in 2020.
Author of a book, Brown Is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution
Has Created a New American Majority -- somewhat premature, as shown
by his focus on candidates who came close but (evidently) lost: Andrew
Gillum, Stacey Abrams, Beto O'Rourke.
Andrew Romano: Want to Beat Trump in 2020? Look at Sherrod Brown's
Big Win in Ohio.
Jennifer Rubin: What Democrats' big win in Arizona means. Rubin
Trump is cracking. I do take exception to Rubin's complaint about
Trump's "great North Korea diplomacy . . . (He was snookered.)" I don't
have time to track down the many things wrong with the NY Times piece
that claims North Korea has reneged on their promises to Trump, but
the real problem there is that Trump's has allowed people like John
Bolton to set requirements and expectations meant to sabotage any sort
Amy Davidson Sorkin: The Post-Midterms Dangers of Donald Trump. She
Donald Trump's Final, Bitter Rallies.
Jon Schwarz: Democrats Should Remember Al Gore Won Florida in 2000 -- but
Lost the Presidency With a Preemptive Surrender.
Nate Silver: The 2018 Map Looked a Lot Like 2012 . . . and That Got Me
Thinking About 2020.
Kay Steiger, et al.: The Arizona, Florida, and Georgia election recounts,
explained: Two Senate races: in Arizona, the Democrat is ahead by
21,000 votes (according to this article, but the
NY Times is now reporting a Democratic lead of almost 33,000); in
Florida, the Republican by 13,000.
Two Governors races: in Florida, the Republican leads by 34,000, and in
Georgia the Republican by 63,000, but a runoff election could be mandated
if the recount drops the Republican to under 50%.
Matt Taibbi: Forget 'Conventional Wisdom': There Are No More Moderates:
I share his reluctance to cater to self-appointed centrists who insist
that Democrats have to show their moderation by adopting positions that
can only be described as "Republican-lite," but the fact is that even
the "democratic wing of the Democratic Party" are pretty damn moderate
in their wildest dreams (universal health care, free public education,
world peace, civil rights, voting rights, labor unions, basically things
that most of the economically advanced world take for granted). Also by
Bernie Sanders Opens Up About New Democrats in Congress, Taking on
Far Too Many House Seats Have Been Uncontested for Too Long.
Ruy Teixeira: The midterms gave Democrats clear marching orders for
Matthew Zeitlin: Trump Has Something New to Blame for a Sluggish Stock
Market: "Presidential Harassment": There's always an explanation
that doesn't involve reality.
Li Zhou: Kyrsten Sinema is the first Democrat to win an Arizona Senate
seat in 30 years.
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