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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Daily Log

Ken Brown posted this in Facebook:

I guess no one is ever going to nominate me to list my favorite baseball players, so I will just volunteer them: 1) Derek Jeter (he is even my all time favorite athlete, Roger is second); 2) Mickey Mantle (I made myself a switch hitter because of him, and as it turns out, was much better as a lefty so stayed on that side all the time); 3) Don Mattingly (great hitter and nice, humble person); 4) Phil Rizzuto (my first favorite player and the reason I always wanted to be a New York Yankee shortstop - and the reason I always wore #10); 5) Tony Kubek (also wore #10, also shortstop for the NY Yankees). Probably next favorite would be Bucky Dent (although he wore #20). Guess my favorite player today? Didi Gregorius. As might be obvious from this list, I love shortstops for the New York Yankees (and often claim to have been one!) And just for the record, Mantle was shortstop when he played for the Independence Yankees and Don Mattingly was a right handed shortstop through high school, but switched to a left handed first baseman to make the bigs.

I added a comment:

Ken taught me to be a Yankees fan, which stood me well through 1964, despite most local kids being Cards fans, and Wichita having a Braves farm team. I remember we went to a double header and cheered the Denver Bears over the Wichita Braves -- Denver won both, and Johnny Blanchard (who had a big year for the Yankees in 1961) hit 2 or 3 home runs. My favorite Yankee from that period was probably Yogi Berra, but I wasn't as strictly partisan as Ken, and I had no ability to play shortstop (or any other position). I didn't pay much attention to baseball from 1965 until the Yankees roared back in 1976, and I moved to New York in 1977. I knew everything about the game from then up to the lockout (1994?), and never followed the game again (so I barely know Jeter from the one legendary Yankees shortstop Ken didn't mention: Frankie Crosetti).

Ken replied:

amazing the Yankees didn't retire #2 because Crosetti wore that number for years and years before Jeter

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, April archive (finished).

Music: Current count 33179 [33137] rated (+42), 221 [226] unrated (-5).

Trying desperately to wrap up the month today, and don't feel like writing much anyway. I will say that the concentration of A- records in the Old Music is mostly due to opening up a stash of downloads, shared by friends and stashed away for months or maybe years. I found them while looking for some more recent jazz records. Also found a few non-product offerings that I won't bother reviewing but someday may find time to listen to. (They exist because Robert Christgau deemed them worth reviewing; e.g., Gary Giddins' post-WWII roadmap, and an Adam Schlesinger playlist. There's also something called "The Sound of the City Pt. 1" -- probably a Charlie Gillett compilation, but I don't know which one: looks chronological, 1946-1951, and I recognize most, maybe all, of the songs, from "I Wonder" to "Cry.")

In new music, Fiona Apple's Fetch the Bolt Cutters appears to be the best-reviewed new record of 2020 (so far), rating 94 (23 reviews) at AOTY, 100 (24 reviews) at Metacritic, topping both lists. It's in 2nd place in my metacritic file, behind Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud. I played it twice last week, and wasn't blown away, but I suppose I'm still open to persuasion (if I bother playing it again). At least I hear something there, which I can't say for Rina Sawayama's well-regarded Rina (far and away the second highest ranked 4/17 release).

Fewer musician deaths this week. The one I know best was disco artist Hamilton Bohannon (1942-2020). I only have one of his LPs in my database (1976's Dance Your Ass Off), but I could swear I had 4-5 at the time, so I have to wonder how much more got lost to my shabby 20th century bookkeeping. I didn't consider any of the albums great, but I did love their minimalist dance grooves. When I moved on to CDs, I picked up Deep Beats: Essential Dancefloor Artists Vol. 4 (1973-75 [1994], Castle/Deep Beats), a very solid A-.

I'm much less familiar with Detroit DJ Mike Huckaby (1966-2020), but for an expert appreciation, see Michaelangelo Matos: Remembering Mike Huckaby, a towering figure in Detroit house music. I can add that the Record Time store in Roseville, MI that Huckaby worked at was a favorite haunt of mine on my trips to Detroit, and the collection of electronic dance music there regularly boggled my mind (although I spent more time in their slightly more modest store in Ferndale, much closer to where I was staying).

Also on the list was Ian Whitcomb (1941-2020), a one-hit wonder from 1965 ("You Turn Me On!"), who wrote the first popular history of rock and roll that I read, After the Ball (1972 -- the second was Charlie Gillett's The Sound of the City). I do have Whitcomb's 1965 LP in my database at B+ (I managed to track it down in the 1970s, but it's long gone now).

PS: Haven't yet done the normal monthly accounting for the April Streamnotes file. I'll wrap that up later in the week. I should also note that I've decided to add all December 2019 releases to the 2020 Music Tracking file, and also to the Metacritic file. I had previously decided to include 2019 releases that hadn't picked up any votes in the 2019 EOY Aggregate. Since EOY lists tend to appear before the year is done, most publications are already skewed by at least a month, so I thought I should reflect that. The Jazz Critics Poll's official year-end definition is Thanksgiving, so I'm getting close to that. I use the Music Tracking file to help count JCP ballots, so this change will have some practical value.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Against All Logic: 2017-2019 (2017-19 [2020], Other People): [r]: B+(***)
  • Robby Ameen: Diluvio (2019 [2020], Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters (2020, Epic): [r]: B+(***)
  • #Bloomerangs: Moments and Fragments (2020, Instru Dash Mental): [cd]: B+(*)
  • The Ian Carey Quintet + 1: Fire in My Head: The Anxiety Suite (2019 [2020], Slow & Steady): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Chicago Underground Quartet: Good Days (2019 [2020], Astral Spirits): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Alex Cunningham & Claire Rousay: Specifically the Water (2020, Astral Spirits): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Kaja Draksler Octet: Out for Stars (2019 [2020], Clean Feed): [r]: B-
  • Colin Fisher Quartet: Living Midnight (2019, Astral Spirits): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Nick Fraser/Kris Davis/Tony Malaby: Zoning (2019, Astral Spirits): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Gordon Grdina Septet: Resist (2017 [2020], Irabbagast): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Alexander Hawkins/Tomeka Reid: Shards and Constellations (2019 [2020], Intakt): [r]: B+(**)
  • James Brandon Lewis/Chad Taylor: Live in Willisau (2019 [2020], Intakt): [r]: A-
  • Luís Lopes Humanization 4tet: Believe, Believe (2018 [2020], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(***)
  • Laura Marling: Song for Our Daughter (2020, Chrysalis/Partisan): [r]: B+(**)
  • Brian Marsella: Gatos Do Sul (2020, Tzadik): [dl]: B
  • Joe McPhee/Dave Rempis/Tomeka Reid/Brandon Lopez/Paal Nilssen-Love: Of Things Beyond Thule Vol. 1 (2018 [2020], Aerophonic): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Mountain Goats: Songs for Pierre Chuvin (2020, Merge): [r]: B+(**)
  • Simon Nabatov: Time Labyrinth (2019 [2020], Leo): [r]: B
  • Simon Nabatov: Plain (2019 [2020], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
  • Chris Poland: Resistance (2020, Ropeadope): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Quelle Chris & Chris Keys: Innocent Country 2 (2020, Mello Music Group): [r]: B+(***)
  • Tom Rainey/Ingrid Laubrock: Stir Crazy (2020, self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Rina Sawayama: Sawayama (2020, Dirty Hit): [r]: B-
  • Serengeti: Ajai (2020, Cohn): [r]: B+(**)
  • Viktor Skokic Sextett: Basement Music (2020, Jazzland): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Emilio Solla International Jazz Orchestra: Puertos: Music From International Waters (2019, Avantango): [r]: B+(**)
  • STRFKR: Future Past Life (2020, Polyvinyl): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Strokes: The New Abnormal (2020, Cult/RCA): [r]: B+(*)
  • Dave Stryker With Bob Mintzer and the WDR Big Band: Blue Soul (2019 [2020], Strikezone): [cd]: B+(*) [06-05]
  • Thundercat: It Is What It Is (2020, Brainfeeder): [r]: B
  • Anne Waldman: Sciamachy (2020, Fast Speaking Music): [sc]: B+(**)
  • Lucinda Williams: Good Souls Better Angels (2020, Highway 20): [r]: A-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • African Head Charge: Churchical Chant of the Iyabinghi (1991-94 [2020], On-U Sound): [bc]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • Blue Lu Barker: 1946-1949 (1946-49 [2000], Classics): [dl]: A-
  • Lil Green: Romance in the Dark: 1940-1946 (1940-46 [1971], RCA): [r]: A-
  • Orüj Güvenç & Tümata: Rivers of One (1997, Interworld): [dl]: A-
  • Mike Huckaby: The Jazz Republic (1997, Cross Section, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Lee Konitz Quartet: Tranquility (1957, Verve): [r]: B+(***)
  • Myra Melford/Zeena Parkins/Miya Masaoka: MZM (2014-16 [2017], Infrequent Seams): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sarah Riedel/Carl Svensson/Viktor Skokic: Perfectly Still (2012, Footprint): [os]: B+(*)
  • Lucinda Williams: The Ghosts of Highway 20 (2016, Highway 20, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Brian Andres Trio Latino: Mayan Suite (Bacalao) [05-15]
  • Brian Landrus/Fred Hersch/Drew Gress/Billy Hart: For Now (BlueLand) [05-15]
  • The MacroQuarktet: The Complete Night: Live at the Stone NYC (2007, Out of Your Head, 2CD) [05-01]
  • Josh Nelson Trio: The Discovery Project: Live in Japan (Steel Bird) [05-01]
  • Viktor Skokic Sextett: Basement Music (Jazzland)
  • Michael Thomas: Event Horizon (Giant Step Arts, 2CD) [05-08]

Monday, April 27, 2020

Weekend Roundup

It's rather staggering how much stuff one can come up with to read in a week. Also how little of what follows directly concerns the 2020 elections, which should be pivotal -- especially, now that it so clear to all concerned that the stakes are critical -- yet seems way above the heads of the party leaders. There are three items below that touch on Biden: one on his PAC's worrisome China-baiting ad (Bessner); one on his ambitious stimulus proposal (Grunwald); one on his VP choices (Hasan). I suppose you might count a fourth (Kilpatrick) on Sanders' campaign and supporters, but I don't mention Biden there, and I'm pretty much done with looking at campaign post-mortems. I also saw, but didn't link to, various articles arguing that Biden needs to veer left to unify the party and/or to develop a more effective campaign (I suppose the Warren-for-VP push might count there). Actually, I don't much care who Biden picks (aside from my getting irritated by how pushy the Stacey Abrams campaign has become), or whether Biden starts giving lip service to left arguments. In some ways, the less of that he does, the less he'll wind up walking back from when/if he wins. And, quite frankly, Warren and Sanders will be more effective in Congress, outside of the Biden administration -- not that I don't wish them luck steering some patronage to people who actually do have the public interest at heart.

On the other hand, there are tons of Trump pieces below: many of the Trump is a moron/Trump is insane variety, which is probably the easiest call to make. Some align with the Trump is an autocrat/fascist meme, some going so far at to insist that he is bent on the destruction of democracy. I don't stress pieces in that vein. There's no reason to think Trump wouldn't be amenable to a right-wing putsch, I see him mostly as a front man and a diversion. It's other Republicans -- the serious ones -- who are the real threat, as should be clear from the more obscure articles below, the ones about corruption, about their relentless assault in the environment, about their efforts to skew the electorate in their favor to perpetuate their graft and their imposition of anti-democratic ideology. Personally, I wouldn't mind dispensing with the Trump show, but he does do a remarkable job of illustrating the derangement of his apparatchiki.


Some scattered links this week:

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, April archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33137 [33094] rated (+43), 226 [216] unrated (+10).

Late getting this out, mostly because I got caught up in updating the Metacritic file, or maybe I was just putting off the task of writing about dead musicians. I did find that several lines had gotten dropped from the file, so I've started to patch them up again, but I may have lost information along the way (the most prominent contenders I'm aware of were Grimes and US Girls). Aside from consulting AOTY and Metacritic, I brought most of the jazz sources up to date.

When I wrote up a list with 12 musicians last week, I forgot to mention Hal Willner. Some obituaries emphasize his association with Saturday Night Live, but I credit him with a series of brilliantly eclectic tribute albums, the best being his 1985 Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill.

Some more recent deaths of note here:

Tidal has an April 20 survey of Remembering the musicians felled by Covid-19, including Grimes, Logan, Konitz, and Willner, others I reported on last week, plus a few I had missed, like avant-disco chanteuse Cristina Monet (went by first name, I have her down for 3 A-list albums 1980-84, so I was a pretty big fan). Two more I'm less familiar with are: Marcelo Peralta and Moraes Moreira.

I wound up spending much of the week playing to Lee Konitz records I had missed. The collected grade list is here. The new finds didn't match the previous peaks, but some are quite remarkable, and some high B+ records below could grow on me if given the chance -- one thing you can count on with Konitz is that he's thinking ahead of you. Aside from the records reviewed below, his list includes the following (all A- except as noted):

  • Lee Konitz: Subconscious-Lee (1949-1950 [1991], Prestige OJC) A
  • Lee Konitz/Gerry Mulligan: Konitz Meets Mulligan (1953, Pacific Jazz)
  • Lee Konitz/Warne Marsh: Lee Konitz With Warne Marsh (1955 [2006], Atlantic/Rhino)
  • Lee Konitz: Live at the Half Note (1959, Verve)
  • Lee Konitz: Motion (1961 [2003], Verve) A
  • Lee Konitz: Motion (1961 [1998], Verve, 3CD)
  • Lee Konitz: I Concentrate on You (1974, SteepleChase)
  • Lee Konitz: Jazz à Juan (1974, SteepleChase)
  • Warne Marsh/Lee Konitz: Two Not One (1975 [2009], Storyville, 4CD)
  • Art Pepper Presets "West Coast Sessions!" Volume 3: Lee Konitz (1980 [2017], Omnivore)
  • Lee Konitz/Martial Solal: Star Eyes 1983 (1983 [2009], Hatology)
  • Lee Konitz/Harold Danko: Wild as Springtime (1984 [1997], Candid)
  • Lee Konitz/Barry Harris: Lullaby of Birdland (1991, Candid)
  • Lee Konitz: Jazz Nocturne (1992, Evidence) A
  • Lee Konitz: Another Shade of Blue (1997 [1999], Blue Note)
  • Lee Konitz: Sound of Surprise (1999, RCA)

Konitz continued producing excellent records well into his 80s, even past his 90th birthday: the last four I have under his name I have at B+(***), including last year's Nonet album Old Songs New (as good as any of his 1970s Nonets). Another B+(***) not on the grade list is Dan Tepfer's Duos With Lee (2008). Another is Grace Kelly's GraceFulLee (2007). Yet another is Ethan Iverson's Costumers Are Mandatory (2013).

Looks like Napster has another 75-80 Konitz albums I haven't heard, but they are getting hard to place, and I could use a break. In fact, I'm thinking I'll slow down this week, and do some house cleaning. I started pitching old music magazines, which no one seems to have any interest in. I thought about donating CDs to a library somewhere, but dropped the ball on that. Laura's nagging me about books, too. I don't see that as much of a problem, but in general it would be good to lighten the load and open up some space. Maybe clear my head a bit, then figure out what to really work on next. I'm at wit's end now.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Omer Avital Qantar: New York Paradox (2019 [2020], Jazz & People): [r]: B+(*)
  • The Chats: High Risk Behaviour (2020, Bargain Bin): [r]: B+(*)
  • Chris Dingman: Embrace (2020, Inner Arts Initiative): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Jimmy Greene: While Looking Up (2020, Mack Avenue): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jeff Hamilton Trio: Catch Me If You Can (2019 [2020], Capri): [cd]: B+(*) [07-17]
  • Hailu Mergia: Yene Mircha (2020, Awesome Tapes From Africa): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ras Michael: Live by the Spirit (2020, Hen House Studios): [r]: B+(**)
  • Mono: Before the Past: Live From Electrical Audio (2019, Temporary Residence): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Farnell Newton: Rippin' & Rumblin' (2020, Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(**)
  • Porridge Radio: Every Bad (2020, Secretly Canadian): [r]: B+(*)
  • Samo Salamon/Igor Matkovic/Kristijan Krajncan: Common Flow (2019 [2020], Sazas): [cd]: A-
  • Samo Salamon/Igor Matkovic/Kristijan Krajncan: Rare Ebb (2019 [2020], Sazas): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Diane Schuur: Running on Faith (2020, Jazzheads): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Yves Tumor: Heaven to a Tortured Mind (2020, Warp): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Noah Howard: Live in Europe Vol. 1 (1975 [2020], Sconsolato): [bc]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • Miles Davis/Stan Getz/Gerry Mulligan/Lee Konitz/Sonny Rollins/Zoot Sims: Conception (1949-51 [1956], Prestige): [r]: B+(**)
  • Bill Evans Trio With Lee Konitz & Warne Marsh: Crosscurrents (1977 [1992], Fantasy/OJC): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jasper Høiby: Fellow Creatures (2016, Edition): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Illinois Jacquet Quartet: Live at Schaffhausen, Switzerland March 18, 1978 (1978 [2015], Storyville): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Lee Konitz: At Storyville (1954 [1988], Black Lion): [r]: A-
  • Lee Konitz: Konitz (1954 [1988], Black Lion): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lee Konitz: Body and Soul (1954 [2003], Black Lion): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lee Konitz: In Harvard Square (1954-55 [1996], Black Lion): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lee Konitz: Inside Hi-Fi (1956, Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lee Konitz: The Real Lee Konitz (1957, Atlantic): [r]: A-
  • Lee Konitz: Very Cool (1957, Verve): [r]: B+(*)
  • Lee Konitz: An Image: Lee Konitz With Strings (1958, Verve): [r]: B
  • Lee Konitz: You and Lee (1959 [1960], Verve): [r]: B
  • Lee Konitz Quintet: Peacemeal (1969 [1970], Milestone): [r]: B+(*)
  • Lee Konitz: Spirits (1971 [1972], Milestone): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lee Konitz: Lone-Lee (1974 [1987], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lee Konitz: Lee Konitz Nonet (1977, Chiaroscuro): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lee Konitz: Tenorlee (1977 [1978], Candid): [r]: B+(*)
  • Lee Konitz Nonet: Yes, Yes, Nonet (1979 [1986], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lee Konitz Quartet: New York Album (1987 [1988], Soul Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lee Konitz: Zounds (1990 [1992], Soul Note): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lee Konitz Trio: Free With Lee (1993, Philology): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lee Konitz/Renato Sellani: Speakin' Lowly (1993 [1994], Philology): [r]: A-
  • Lee Konitz: It's You (1996, SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lee Konitz: Dearly Beloved (1996 [1997], SteepleChase): [r]: A-
  • Lee Konitz: Pride (1999 [2000], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lee Konitz: Parallels (2001, Chesky): [r]: B+(**)
  • Giuseppi Logan: More (1965 [1966], ESP-Disk): [r]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Tetuzi Akiyama/Nicolas Field/Gregor Vidic: Interpersonal Subjectivities (Astral Spirits -19)
  • Robby Ameen: Diluvio (Origin)
  • Josh Berman/Paul Lytton/Jason Roebke: Trio Discrepancies (Astral Spirits -19)
  • Chicago Underground Quartet: Good Days (Astral Spirits)
  • Chris Cogburn/Juan García/Ignaz Schick: Anáhuac (Astral Spirits)
  • Alex Cunningham & Claire Rousay: Specifically the Water (Astral Spirits)
  • Colin Fisher Quartet: Living Midnight (Astral Spirits -19)
  • Nick Fraser/Kris Davis/Tony Malaby: Zoning (Astral Spirits -19)
  • Dylan Hayes Electric Band: Songs for Rooms and People (Blujazz)
  • KVL: Volume 1 (Astral Spirits -19)
  • LP and the Vinyl: Heard and Seen (OA2)
  • Chris Poland: Resistance (Ropeadope)
  • Charles Rumback: June Holiday (Astral Spirits)

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Covid-19 continues to dominate the news, as it will for months (or maybe years) to come. You can subdivide the pandemic into two essential topics: public health issues, and economic consequences of fighting the pandemic by shutting down a big part of the economy. Unemployment in the US has surged to about 20%, and despite wild talk about reopening businesses, it looks like those numbers have yet to peak -- not least because infections and deaths continue to rise. The US has more deaths than any other country in the world, and the number of deaths has blown past previous markers like the number killed on 9/11 and the larger number of Americans sacrificed in the post-9/11 Bush Wars (sure, Obama and Trump have extended them, but the initial decision rests clearly with GW and his "Vulcans").

A third dimension has started to appear: the struggle for control of the political narrative around the pandemic. The Democratic Party primary campaign has ended with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren endorsing Joe Biden, who won Wisconsin 62.93% to 31.78% over Sanders, and Wyoming 72.18% to 27.82% -- both states that had favored Sanders over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Still, Biden has been all but invisible during the crisis, so virtually all of the political maneuvering has been by Republicans: Trump denies any responsibility for mishandling the crisis, and vows to re-open the economy real soon now; supporting him are the "protesters" who have turned out for various photo-ops demanding an end to state lockdowns. (The Michigan protest has been clearly identified as funded by the De Vos family, and I expect the others will be linked to other billionaire donors. The placards are blatantly tied to Trump, some so extreme you have to doubt it's been officially sanctioned -- although with Trump it could be.)

Some Democrats would like to blame Trump for the whole crisis -- at least one article below refers to the "Trump plague," and many point out various failures to recognize the pandemic early and act decisively to stop or at least mitigate it. I don't see much point in singling Trump out -- I doubt any president would have grasped what was happening much faster or moved much more decisively, as most of the problems I've seen look to me like they have much more systemic roots. Of course, it is fair to note that Trump and his minions have made the system more fragile and inept than it already was. The desire to wring every ounce of profit out of the economy has left us with fragile supply chains and woefully inadequate public support. (I'm surprised not that the "national stockpile" is inadequate but that such a thing exists at all.) Then there's the fact that we don't have universal health care, and that private insurance is tied to employment. And there's a dozen other things, most tied back to a system designed not to do what people need but to make money off those needs, dumping waste as it goes.

What you're welcome to blame Trump for is having a blathering, careless idiot at the helm of the federal government. If you weren't embarrassed by that before, you certainly should be now. He may not be to blame for the economy collapsing, but he's petty enough to want credit for attaching his name to relief checks. He may not be to blame for thousands of people dying, but he still wants credit and praise for . . . well, beats me, but you better be nice to him. I'm not sure when or why the media decided we need to hear from the president every time a news story breaks, but Trump is one president who never has anything enlightening or comforting to say.

Another thing: Laura suggests you watch Vic DiBitetto, the man with a plan.

Also: I've cut way back on links to New York Intelligencer after running into a paywall. I saw my first warning a few weeks back, and decided at that point to stop clicking on articles by Jonathan Chait and Ed Kilgore, as I usually wound up arguing with them anyway. Missing Eric Levitz and Sarah Jones, but still seems pricey for my taste. I cut way back on The Atlantic a few months ago, and Foreign Policy a year or two back (no link handy; as I recall, even more expensive for even less value). At this point, I don't know what I would do if Vox starts to tighten the screws: they're my first go-to each week, and far and away my most valuable source. I should also note that while I don't spend for web access, my wife subscribes to a bunch of things, and I sometimes piggyback on her accounts. She's the true news junkie in the family. Without her, I doubt I'd bother finding any of this.


Some scattered links this week:

Monday, April 13, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, April archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33094 [33056] rated (+38, 216 [216] unrated (-0).

Bernie Sanders endorsed Joe Biden today. I don't think he needed to do so this early, but he seems to be building a personal relationship which will make him more influential as the campaign progresses, and hopefully after Biden wins. Those of us who don't know Biden personally still have some distance to go to embrace the idea. But one thing that's long been clear to me is that even the worst Democrats are open to discussion of progressive ideas, while Republicans are not, locked into their right-wing echo chamber. I'd also add that Biden, unlike ideological centrists like Schumer and the Clintons, is a guy who is happy to roll with the waves. He's never been a principled defender of working people, of civil rights, of peace and justice, and that's left him with a very shoddy record to run on. But he's not a steady opponent either, and when reality shifts he tries to stick with it. That may not be what we want, but it could be what we need.

Worth reading here (and I'm sure there'll be more by the weekend):


I filled out my DownBeat Critics Poll ballot last week, the evening before the deadline. I started quite late, and quickly grew exhausted, so I wound up racing through the 20-odd pages of the ballot. Normally I take notes as I go along (this year's are here), but I wound up referring to them more than revising them. To rush things along, I wound up simply repeating last year's picks in most categories. I haven't even sorted out the jazz albums lists, and didn't bother even copying the blues and "beyond" album lists -- safe to say I've heard virtually none of the blues albums (I wound up writing in Al Gold's Paradise, the only A-list blues album I've heard all year long). Maybe I'll return to the file and clean it up a bit later -- or just try to forget this year. I've noticed that my votes rarely register in the published totals anyway, and I've never been very keen on ranking musicians, so maybe it's best not to put much effort in.

More old records this week than new ones. Not my intent, but Storyville Records keeps adding to their Bandcamp page (207 records at the moment), and I found a Buddy Tate record that tempted me. That led me into a deeper dive into Tate and his fellow Texas Tenor Arnett Cobb. Nothing I found this week quite matches their Very Saxy (with Coleman Hawkins and Lockjaw Davis), Cobb's Part Time, or Tate's two Buck & Buddy albums (with Buck Clayton), but Cobb's lesser Prestiges are pretty consistent, and Tate is often terrific (even when his bands aren't). I didn't exhaust their later European live dates, but did look out for records on France's Black & Blue label -- most were reissued c. 2000 in their Definitive series, and I've found a lot of great records there.

Some of the records below were recommended in Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide: April, 2020 (subscribers only). He also reviewed a non-album, attributed as Adam Schlesinger: The End of the Movie (Carl Wilson Spotify playlist), collecting scattered works by the late Fountains of Wayne singer-songwriter. If you're interested, you can find it in the Carl Wilson article linked below. [PS: OK, tried it, doesn't work. The playlist widget in the Consumer Guide file only gives you short fragments of each song, so it's worse than useless. Maybe if you subscribe to Spotify, you'll have better luck] I don't see any point in reviewing non-product. I saw FOW once and was bored out of my skull, although I eventually heard a couple of albums that I rather liked (in the comfort of my home): Welcome Interstate Managers (2003), and Out-of-State Plates (2005).

Of more concern, to me at least, is Christgau's dive into John Coltrane's recorded work. This is what he came up with (including a related extra; I'm adding recording dates and, in brackets, my own grades, and footnote numbers):

  • John Coltrane: The Best of John Coltrane (1956-58, Prestige) A- [B+] (1)
  • John Coltrane: Ken Burns Jazz (1956-67, Verve) *** [A-] (2)
  • John Coltrane: The Africa Brass Sessions, Vol. 2 (1961, Impulse!) A [A] (3)
  • John Coltrane: "Live" at the Village Vanguard (1961, Hallmark) A [A-] (4)
  • John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (1964, Impulse!) A- [A+] (5)
  • Pharoah Sanders: The Impulse Story (1966-73, Impulse!) *** [A-] (6)

Footnotes, before going further:

  1. Review doesn't specify release date (mine is 2004), but notes that "it does seem to be the first disc of Prestige Profiles: John Coltrane" (2005), which I also have at B+. On the other hand, I gave an A- to the 6-CD Fearless Leader box, which covers the same 1956-58 span. I don't usually upgrade boxes, but I probably got lost in sheer breadth and depth, but I seriously doubt that he did much on Prestige that rivals his early Impulse! period. Also, I don't particularly care for jazz best-ofs. Replaying this one tonight, I haven't heard anything that blows me away, or that I don't like. I'll also note that I was warned off the 16-CD The Prestige Recordings, which expands to include all of Coltrane's sideman dates. Some, of course, are important (like "Tenor Madness" with Sonny Rollins and the quickies Miles Davis cut to break his contract), but you also get a lot of him playing second fiddle to Red Garland, Kenny Burrell, and lesser lights (not that I don't like Paul Quinichette).

  2. My grade based on the 1995 2-CD release of The Complete Africa/Brass Sessions, graded A -- although note that I had previously graded Africa Brass Volumes 1 & 2 (a 1988 single-CD release which had the two albums in original order) at A-. [PS: I managed to build a playlist matching the album, and gave it a spin; could be A or A-. By the way, even though the first Africa/Brass album was credited to the Quartet, all tracks have 15-18 musicians, mostly extra brass but Eric Dolphy is hard to miss.]

  3. Coltrane barely got mentioned in Burns' Jazz documentary, but the product tie-ins were more sensibly distributed. I'm not a big "Giant Steps" fan, so I wouldn't single out that omission (among dozens of others -- especially since the Giant Steps album yields two other equally famous songs), but damn near everything that did make the cut is not just good but iconic, and the Miles Davis Quintet opener and the Rashied Ali duo closer stretch the timeline as far as one can imagine. 13:40 of "My Favorite Things" makes the point (that all future tenor saxophonists will also have to learn to play soprano), and A Love Supreme is represented with a 7:46 taste.

  4. The Hallmark release is a straight reissue of the 1962 Impulse! album (3 tracks, 35:50), which has been reissued many times (Discogs lists 90 editions, 80 on Impulse!, 1 on Verve [which owns Impulse!]; the rest are European reissue labels which picked the record up after the EU's 50-year copyright limit lapsed). Hallmark's appeared in 2014, but since it's identical to Impulse!'s original, why cite it? My A- grade came from a quick Rhapsody stream. I previously graded the expanded Live at the Village Vanguard: The Master Takes (1998) and the 4-CD The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings (1997) at A, and no doubt would have done the same with the original had I not seen it as inferior value.

  5. I also gave an A to A Love Supreme [Deluxe Edition] (2002), which adds a second CD with a longer live version from Paris. By the way, I never gave much thought to this record as being spiritual. It just struck me as the most perfectly plotted single piece of jazz ever recorded.

  6. After his debut in ESP-Disk, Sanders recorded a dozen albums for Impulse, my favorites Tauhid (1966) and Village of the Pharoahs (1973), but he was less consistent than Coltrane, so I considered the survey more useful. Of course, there is also a Coltrane The Impulse Story, another solid A-.

Christgau mentions favorably Giant Steps and My Favorite Things -- two 1959-61 Atlantic albums which were eventually boxed as The Heavyweight Champion: The Complete Atlantic Recordings (1995, 7-CD once you pack all the extra takes in). Coltrane was a good saxophonist at Prestige (1956-58), during which time he played in important groups with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, but he didn't become special until he figured out how to exploit modes and turn them into expansive sheets of sound. The classic formulation of that was on Davis's Kind of Blue (1959), one of the most beloved of all jazz records. Coltrane's Atlantics expanded on that discovery -- my favorite album there is the last, Olé. He put his Quartet together when he moved on to Impulse! (which later issued a box called The House That Trane Built: The Best of Impulse Records), and from 1961-64 it's hard to think of anything he did wrong (well, aside from the Johnny Hartman album, though even it has fans) -- Crescent is a good example, like one of the second tier Himalayan peaks, overshadowed by Everest and K2 but still massive and 25,000 feet high.

From 1965-67 he kind of freaked out, inventing (or maybe just radicalizing) the squawkiest strain of the avant-garde. I hated Ascension (1965) for the longest time before I kind of got into it, and still have Sun Ship graded C+, but his Rashied Ali duo on Interstellar Space (1967) is marvelous. Since his death, Coltrane has become the most influential tenor saxophonist since Hawkins and Young, or saxophonist period since Parker. By the 1990s, it seemed like everyone was trying to play like him (at bit less so now). Pharoah Sanders had the most direct claim -- in his trinity, he was the son, Coltrane the father, and Albert Ayler the holy ghost -- and it's tempting to say that the very best posthumous Coltrane records are Welcome to Love (1990) and Crescent With Love (1992). More recently, Nat Birchall has the sound down cold.

You can find my Coltrane grade list here. I've written much of this before, now collected in Recorded Jazz in the 20th Century, which you'd have to download all of to pick out the Coltrane pages.

Looking forward, I have some downloads that look promising, especially from Astral Spirits, but I haven't listened to them yet because they're a pain in the ass. Also got some vinyl I've been too lazy to check out, again a bunch of extra work (assuming the gear still works).


People have been dying recently, including musicians. Without looking hard, here are a few of the obituaries and tributes I've noticed:

Some of these pieces came from a longer list published by the New York Times. I noticed today that legendary Formula One driver Stirling Moss has died, age 90, evidently of something else. I was a big F1 fan as a teenager, and he was already long retired. I remember him as a very astute writer, covering the circuit for Road & Track (which I thought at the time was the best edited magazine in the world). Another prominent figure of my youth died, at 85: Al Kaline. I don't recall being conscious of baseball before 1957, but can still recite the 1957 all-star teams (that was the year Cincinnati stuffed the ballot boxes -- the NL ordered that several Reds be dropped in favor of players they beat, like Willie Mays and Hank Aaron; it was also a year when the AL picked a bunch of Tigers, including starting pitcher Jim Bunning; no one doubted that Kaline belonged in right-field, next to Mickey Mantle in center and Ted Williams in left -- nor did the NL have a problem with Frank Robinson joining Mays and Aaron).


New records reviewed this week:

  • John Anderson: Years (2020, Easy Eye Sound): [r]: B+(**)
  • Thomas Anderson: Analog Summer (Four-Tracks and Then Some) (2020, Out There): [r]: B+(**)
  • Erlend Apneseth: Fragmentarium (2019 [2020], Hubro): [r]: B+(***)
  • The Exbats: Kicks, Hits and Fits (2020, Burger): [r]: B+(***)
  • Grrrl Gang: Here to Stay (2017-18 [2020], Damnably, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kirby Heard: Mama's Biscuits (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
  • Heroes Are Gang Leaders: Artificial Happiness Button (2020, Ropeadope): [cd]: A-
  • Jasper Høiby: Planet B (2019 [2020], Edition): [r]: A-
  • Large Unit/Fendika: EthioBraz (2018 [2019], PNL): [bc]: A-
  • Ashley McBryde: Never Will (2020, Warner Nashville): [r]: B+(**)
  • Grant Peeples: Bad Wife (2020, Rootball): [r]: B+(*)
  • Matthew Shipp/Mark Helias/Gordon Grdina: Skin and Bones (2018 [2019], Not Two): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lou Volpe: Before & After (2020, Jazz Guitar): [cd]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Future/Zaytoven: Beast Mode (2015 [2020], Epic/Freebandz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lennie Tristano: The Duo Sessions (1968 [2020], Dot Time): [r]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • Arnett Cobb and His Orchestra: 1946-1947 (1946-47 [1999], Classics): [r]: B+(***)
  • Arnett Cobb: Smooth Sailing (1959, Prestige): [r]: A-
  • Arnett Cobb: Movin' Right Along (1960, Prestige): [r]: A-
  • Arnett Cobb With the Red Garland Trio: Blue and Sentimental (1960 [1993], Prestige): [r]: B+(***)
  • Arnett Cobb: Deep Purple [The Defnitive Black & Blue Sessions] (1973 [1995], Black & Blue): [r]: B+(***)
  • Arnett Cobb: Jumpin' at the Woodside [The Definitive Black & Blue Sessions] (1974 [2001], Black & Blue): [r]: A-
  • Arnett Cobb: The Wild Man From Texas [The Definitive Black & Blue Sessions] (1976 [1997], Black & Blue): [r]: B+(***)
  • Arnett Cobb/Jimmy Heath/Joe Henderson: Tenor Tribute Vol. 2 (1988 [1993], Soul Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Duke Ellington: At the Hollywood Empire (1949 [2004], Storyville): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Dexter Gordon: Jazz at Highschool (1967 [2002], Storyville): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Al Grey/Arnett Cobb: Ain't That Funk for You (1977 [2002], Black & Blue): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sun Ra: Celestial Love (1982 [2015], Enterplanetary Koncepts): [r]: B+(*)
  • Buddy Tate: Celebrity Club Orchestra (1954 [2016], Black & Blue): [r]: A-
  • Buddy Tate/Claude Hopkins: Buddy and Claude (1960 [1999], Prestige): [r]: B+(**)
  • Buddy Tate/Milton Buckner: When I'm Blue (1967 [1995], Black & Blue): [r]: B+(*)
  • Buddy Tate: Buddy Tate & His Celebrity Club Orchestra [The Definitive Black & Blue Sessions] (1968 [2002], Black & Blue): [r]: A-
  • Buddy Tate: Buddy Tate and His Buddies (1973, Chiaroscuro): [r]: B+(***)
  • Buddy Tate: The Texas Twister (1975 [1987], New World): [r]: B+(***)
  • Buddy Tate: The Texas Tenor (1975 [2004], Storyville, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
  • Buddy Tate: Body and Soul: Live in Dublin 1976 (1976 [2008], Nagel Heyer): [r]: B+(**)
  • Buddy Tate/Abdullah Ibrahim: Buddy Tate Meets Abdullah Ibrahim: The Legendary 1977 Encounter (1977 [1996], Chiaroscuro): [r]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • #Bloomerangs: Moments and Fragments (Instru Dash Mental)
  • Gordon Grdina Septet: Resist (Irabbagast)
  • Heroes Are Gang Leaders: Artificial Happiness Button (Ropeadope)

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Weekend Roundup

I have little to add to the comments below, and frankly am exhausted and want to put this week behind me. Seems like I could have found more on Bernie Sanders, the end of his campaign, and the consolidation behind Joe Biden. Still seems premature for that, not least as Biden continues to be such an underwhelming front-runner. I watched only a few minutes of Steven Colbert's interview with the Pod Saves America crew last week. They're usually sharp guys, but their "ecstasy" over Biden's win seemed awfully rehearsed and forced. They all previously worked in the Obama White House, and one couldn't help but think they're lining up for new jobs under Biden.

Looks like Joe Biden won the Alaska Democratic primary, 55.31% to 44.69% for Bernie Sanders. The primary was conducted by mail. No results yet in last week's messy Wisconsin primary. Biden was averaging about 53% in polls there. We've voted by mail in Kansas, where the primary is run by the party, not by the state. Ballots here are due May 4. We voted for Sanders. Ranked choice was an option here, but in a two-person race, I didn't see any point in offering a second choice (which could only have been Elizabeth Warren; with five names on the ballot, had I ranked them all Biden would have come in fifth).

I've seen some tweets touting Warren as a VP choice, and I wouldn't object. Indeed, I think she would be very effective in the role. I'm reminded of a business maxim I associate with David Ogilvy, who passed it on to his middle management: if we always hire people greater than ourselves, we will become a company of giants; if we hire people lesser than ourselves, we will be a company of midgets. Biden would probably prefer a safe, mediocre pick like Tim Kaine (or Joe Biden), but this is one chance to rewrite his story (assuming his handlers let him).


Some scattered links this week:


PS: Right after I posted Weekend Roundup, I noticed a pretty inflammatory tweets

Reza Aslan @rezaaslan: Breaking news: @DemSocialists endorses Trump for President.

DSA @DemSocialists: We are not endorsing @JoeBiden.

I'm not a member of or in any way involved with DSA, but I don't see any problem with them, as an organization, not endorsing Biden, especially at this time. (Had I been involved, I would have advised them keeping the door open by adding "at this time.") Assuming Biden is the Democratic Party nominee against Trump, I wouldn't be surprised if they endorse Biden as the November election approaches. That would be consistent with what I assume is their raison d'être, which is to advance socialism within the Democratic Party and to support the Democratic Party in general elections.

However, non-endorsement now (4-5 months before the convention) doesn't even remotely imply a preference, let alone an endorsement, for Trump, so Aslan is just being deliberately, provocatively stupid. Sadly, he's not alone in this regard, as I've run into a constant stream of presumed Democrats who are so hepped up on attacking what Howard Dean memorably called "the democratic wing of the Democratic Party" -- an obsession that actually does little more than further discredit "centrism" in the eyes of those who actually care about progressive reforms for real and pressing problems. It's especially hard to credit that people engaging in this kind of innuendo or slander think they're actually helping Biden (or helping defeat Trump -- by the way, I'm not doubting their sincere loathing of Trump, although they do like to doubt others, as Aslan does above).

Relevant to but not directly à propos of this, I noticed this tweet (and later a follow up):

'Weird Alex' Pareene @pareene: I truly thought the fact that no one really feels personally invested in a Biden presidency would make the timeline a bit less wild this time but it's actually somehow worse because they're already preemptively blaming you for him losing

'Weird Alex' Pareene @pareene: (To be clear I do not believe it's a fait accompli he will lose which makes it even weirder that we're already on the recriminations stage.)

By the way, good chance I will eventually write an endorsement for Biden before November's election, much like the one I wrote for Kerry in 2004. But not until he is definitively the nominee, and not until it's reasonably close to the election time. And sure, it's going to focus more on how bad Trump is than on how good Biden will be, because the former is proven, while the latter is at best hypothetical, and not strongly grounded in the track records of Biden and whoever is likely to be involved in his administration.

Additional Notes

I got ticked off by a Facebook post from an otherwise brilliant friend trying to shame Bernie supporters into supporting Biden. I have no reason to think he actually disagrees with Sanders on anything other than tactics, but he's had a bug up his ass about Bernie's fans all along, repeatedly attacking them with grossly overgeneralized (if ever even marginally fact-based) aspersions.

I commented:

Assuming Biden is the Democratic nominee, I fully intend to vote for him in November. However, I'll never attack anyone on the left who refuses to vote for Democrats like Biden, and I resent it when you do. Those leftists are principled people who can be depended on to rally against war, racism, and injustice, not least when (as is often the case) Democrats are culpable. We need them much more when the chips are down than we need their votes at election time, and they deserve our respect.

The Facebook post I referred to was by Allen Lowe. On re-reading it, I find it snarkier than I originally read it, but it fits into a pattern of similar (often more explicit) broadsides:

my statement du jour to those highly principled holdouts who are now saying, in a Biden/Trump election, that they will vote Third Party:

"you vote for whomever you want; don't you worry about the poor and the disabled and people of color, and old folks like me who are dying from the virus. We willingly give our lives for your right to be wrong."

Lowe replied:

Tom Hull than I am sorry to say that you will continue to resent me. Anyone on the left who does not vote for Biden in this election is not only, in my opinion, heavily deluded, but acting on a non-existent principle. To say "we need them much more when the chips are down than we need their votes at election time," is odd, to my way of thinking. The chips have never been lower.

My response:

Agree on deluded; disagree strongly on "non-existent principle."

Also:

Since 2000 came up, I'll note that I voted for Nader then (in KS, where Gore did zero campaigning, not that I'm using that as an excuse). It's not that I couldn't discern differences between Bush and Gore, but by then I was totally disgusted by Clinton, and felt it was important to fight back against the "New Democrats" efforts to purge the Party of deviant leftism. My takeaway from that election was that the left has to work in the Democratic Party, because that's where the people the left wants to organize are. By 2004 I had zero interest in Nader, and wrote a letter to all my friends and acquaintances urging them to vote for Kerry vs. Bush. Some details have changed, but the basic concept is relevant today:

Monday, April 06, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, April archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33056 [33307] rated (+49), 216 [219] unrated (-3).

Surprised by the high rated count, but I guess I haven't been doing much else. Lists by Chris Monsen (although I also should have looked here) and Phil Overeem gave me some ideas to check out.

Last week I noted that I had been working on my Jazz Guide files, bringing them up to date, and I published links to the ODT files. Now I've updated an additional series of files, where I've scraped up my non-review political, music, and miscellaneous writings (most easily from the Notebook. I've written up an Index page that provides links to the ODT files. You are welcome to download those files and read them (although not to copy, modify, or redistribute them without my permission. The ODT file format is used by the free software suite LibreOffice. The format is publicly available, so it's possible that other programs can import and display the files (e.g., Microsoft Word since 2010). I need to look into possibly exporting the files into other formats (certainly, PDF is possible). I imagine E-book format(s) would be more useful, but I'm not a user let alone expert, so that's something I'll need to learn more about.

The writing in these "books" is almost identical to things I've published elsewhere on the website. (I've corrected errors where I noticed them, but have done very little editing, even though I understand that a lot of editing is called for.) Most of this was done by cut-and-paste from web browser or from my trusty emacs text editor (which preserves a bit less markup). The main thing about these files is that the Jazz Guides are sorted by era then artist name, while everything else is presented oldest-to-newest (FIFO, as opposed to the LIFO you get reading a blog).

It remains to be seen how much editing I will eventually manage to do, but the collection phase completion makes it much easier to do something with the writing. I've always wanted to write books, and I sense that time is running out for that. My wife has taken a stab at sifting through the 2000-09 political blogs, but hasn't come up with as much as a plan there. I have a few rough ideas, and I'll try to develop them as I find time. One thing I wonder about now is how easy it would be to organize the music reviews into a reference website (possibly using Mediawiki). I doubt they are adequate as is, but wonder if other people might find them a useful framework to build on. Would be nice to have some kind of comment framework here, as I could use some feedback.

By the way, I got one letter last week which raised my spirits. Also noted how hard it is to find vaguely remembered things on the website, so I cobbled together a Google-based Website Search function, which appears on many (but far from all) pages (bottom of the left nav section on blog pages). This is based on code I had written for Robert Christgau, and does nothing more than add "site:tomhull.com" to a Google search string, redirecting the output to a new tab/window. Still, I've already found it faster than my relatively knowledgeable guesses as to where things are. A while back I realized that the ancient Sitemap needs a major revision. I did a tiny bit of work on it, then dropped the ball.

Someone pointed out that Wikipedia's page for John Coltrane's A Love Supreme cites my A+ grade under "Professional ratings." As a side effect, whoever did that created a stub redirect page for Tom Hull (critic), which is currently empty (aside from the useless redirect).

Got an invite to participate in DownBeat's critics poll, but they're on a tight deadline this year, which I'll be up against soon. They claim one can fill the ballot out in 45 minutes, but it usually takes me 6-8 hours (and not just because I find so much to gripe about along the way).

Got Democratic Primary ballots from the state party today -- due back early May. That one was easy: ticked the box for Bernie Sanders, signed the ballot, and sealed the envelope. The state has refused to pay for presidential primaries in the past, so the parties have been left to organize caucuses. The last two caucuses I attended (2008 and 2016) involved hours of waiting in line, after which they just counted votes and sent us on the way, so this one will be much more efficient. They're even allowing for ranked choice voting, but in what is now a two-person race I didn't see any value in that. This system was figured out before Covid-19 wrecked everything. We also filled out the census online, so no anxiety there either.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Harrison Argatoff: Toronto Streets Tour (2019 [2020], self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Jeich Ould Badou: Music From Saharan WhatsApp 03 (2020, Sahel Sounds, EP): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Kelsea Ballerini: Kelsea (2020, Black River): [r]: B+(*)
  • Marshall Chapman: Songs I Can't Live Without (2020, Tall Girl): [r]: B+(**)
  • Childish Gambino: 3.15.20 (2020, RCA): [r]: B
  • Gerald Cleaver: Signs (2017-19 [2020], 577): [r]: B
  • Avishai Cohen Big Vicious: Big Vicious (2020, ECM): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jennifer Curtis & Tyshawn Sorey: Invisible Ritual (2020, New Focus): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Jay Electronica: A Written Testimony (2020, Roc Nation): [r]: B+(*)
  • Lily Hiatt: Walking Proof (2020, New West): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sigurd Hole: Lys/Mørke (2019 [2020], Eivesang, 2CD): [r]: B+(*)
  • Gabe Lee: Farmland (2019, Torrez Music Group): [r]: B+(**)
  • Gabe Lee: Honky Tonk Hell (2020, Torrez Music Group): [r]: B+(**)
  • Grégoire Maret/Romain Collin/Bill Frisell: Americana (2020, ACT Music): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Mr. Wrong: Create a Place (2020, Water Wing, EP): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Mythic Sunship: Changing Shapes: Live at Roadburn (2019 [2020], El Paraiso): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Necks: Three (2020, Northern Spy): [r]: B+(**)
  • Gard Nilssen's Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully the Music Is Yours (2019 [2020], Odin): [r]: A-
  • Onipa: We No Be Machine (2020, Strut): [r]: B+(***)
  • Tineke Postma: Freya (2018 [2020], Edition): [r]: B+(**)
  • Princess Nokia: Everything Is Beautiful (2020, Platoon): [r]: B+(***)
  • Princess Nokia: Everything Sucks (2020, Platoon, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Andreas Røysum Ensemble: Andreas Røysum Ensemble (2020, Motvind): [r]: B+(**)
  • Skepta, Chip & Young Adz: Insomnia (2020, SKC M29): [r]: B+(**)
  • Torben Snekkestad/Agustí Fernández/Barry Guy: The Swiftest Traveler (2018 [2020], Trost): [r]: B+(**)
  • Soccer Mommy: Color Theory (2020, Loma Vista): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sufjan Stevens & Lowell Brams: Aporia (2020, Asthmatic Kitty): [r]: B+(*)
  • Nora Jane Struthers: Bright Lights, Long Drives, First Words (2020, Blue Pig Music): [r]: B+(*)
  • Superposition: Superposition (2018-19 [2020], We Jazz): [r]: B+(***)
  • Tamikrest: Tamotaït (2020, Glitterbeat): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sophie Tassignon: Mysteries Unfold (2020, RareNoise): [cdr]: B+(*) [04-24]
  • The Tender Things: How You Make a Fool (2020, Spaceflight): [r]: B
  • The TNEK Jazz Quintet: Plays the Music of Sam Jones (2020, TNEK Jazz): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Stein Urheim: Downhill Uplift (2018 [2020], Hubro): [r]: B
  • Wako: Wako (2019 [2020], Øra Fonogram): [r]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Tony Allen/Hugh Masekela: Rejoice (2010 [2020], World Circuit): [r]: A-
  • Cadence Revolution: Disques Debs International Vol. 2 (1970s [2020], Disques Debs/Strut): [bc]: A-
  • Jamaican All Stars [Studio One] (1970-74 [2020], Studio One): [r]: B+(*)
  • Léve Léve: Sao Tome & Principe Sounds '70s-'80s (1970s-80s [2020], Bongo Joe): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ana Mazzotti: Ninguem Vai Me Segura (1974 [2019], Far Out): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ana Mazzotti: Ana Mazzotti (1977 [2019], Far Out): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ranil Y Su Conjunto Tropical: Limited Dance Edition ([2020], Analog Africa): [bc]: A-
  • Ranil Y Su Conjunto Tropical: Stay Safe and Sound Ranil Selection!! ([2020], Analog Africa): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Yabby You: King Tubby's Prophecies of Dub (1976 [2020], Pressure Sounds): [bc]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • Disques Debs International Volume 1: An Island Story: Biguine, Afro Latin & Musique Antillaise 1960-1972 (1960-72 [2018], Disques Debs/Strut): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Mr. Wrong: Babes in Boyland (2017, Water Wing, EP): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Papa Bue's Viking Jazzband: Greatest Hits (1958-70 [1989], Storyville): [bc]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • The Ian Carey Quintet + 1: Fire in My Head: The Anxiety Suite (Slow & Steady) [04-24]
  • Dave Stryker With Bob Mintzer and the WDR Big Band: Blue Soul (Strikezone) [06-05]

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Weekend Roundup

I wanted to write an intro this week objecting to people who are still ragging on "Sanders-ites," as in:

one of the most discouraging things about the Sanders-ites who continue to rail against Biden is their appalling lack of understanding of how government works. Their schematic recitations of corporate behemoths who apparently control the every move of Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi reflect a profound lack of any grasp of the realities of American political life, which is that action and reaction occur in a lot of different and even hidden places.

I don't have any problems with arguing that it's more realistic to aim for incremental reforms than for ideal solutions, but this isn't about tactics or goals. The point here is to disparage people for wanting something more than the centrists/moderates are willing to argue for. I can't help but take these attacks personally. Even if there are people on the left too pig-headed to compromise their principles, I don't see any value in attacking them personally, let along generalizing and slandering them as a group. But every day I see attacks on "Sanders-ites" like this, and I'm getting sick and tired of them, and their high-handed authors.

Should write more, but will leave it with I'm more sad than angry or anything else that Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic Party nominee. I'm not especially bothered by his positions or his record -- needless to say, not for lack of points I'd argue with -- but I do worry that he'll prove an inarticulate and hapless campaigner (as we already have much evidence of). Still, the sad part has little to do with Biden personally. It shows that most Democrats are reacting to fear -- not just of Trump and the Republicans, but of their expected reaction to the changes Sanders is campaigning for. That may go hand in hand with being uninformed and/or unimaginative, but I can't fault anyone for excessive caution -- especially in the middle of a crisis so unprecedented no one can honestly see their way beyond.


Some scattered links this week:

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Daily Log

Finished updating my Record Guide files, bringing them current to March 30, 2020. Current file sizes:

  • Recorded Jazz in the 20th Century: 848 pages (342,992 words).
  • Recorded Jazz in the Early 21st Century: 1880 pages (868,126 words).
  • Non-Jazz Record Notes: 1989 pages (851,268 words).


Mar 2020 May 2020