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Monday, May 29, 2023

Music Week

Expanded blog post, May archive (final).

Tweet: Music Week: 47 albums, 2 A-list,

Music: Current count 40292 [40245] rated (+47), 38 [42] unrated (-4: 11 new, 27 old).

I wrote another substantial (4963 words, 100 links) Speaking of Which yesterday. Two more pieces I would have included had I seen them:

I had a fairly productive week listening to new records, although I often struggled coming up with albums to play next. Only two clear A- records this week, and I apologize in advance for not even trying to write a serious note on Arlo Parks. I did play the record three times, and I liked her 2021 album Collapsed Into Sunbeams as much. About it, I wrote:

Arlo Parks: Collapsed Into Sunbeams (2021, Transgressive): Semi-pop singer-songwriter from London, given name Anaďs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho, ancestors from Nigeria, Chad, and France, first album after two EPs. I, for one, find "Hope" remarkably reassuring, and less for the lyrics than for the music, something few others have been able to do (Stevie Wonder, I guess). I wouldn't have held it for the sixth single, but it probably wouldn't have been my first pick either. A-

Of the high B+ albums, the ones that came closest were those by Avalon Emerson and Asher Gamedze.

I've done the indexing on the May archive, but haven't added the introductions yet. The haul for May is 212 albums.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Bas Jan: Baby U Know (2022, Lost Map): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Patrick Brennan Sonic Openings: Tilting Curvaceous (2021 [2023], Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Brandy Clark: Brandy Clark (2023, Warner): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Luke Combs: Gettin' Old (2023, River House Artists): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Rodney Crowell: The Chicago Sessions (2023, New West): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Fatoumata Diawara: London Ko (2023, Wagram Music): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Eluvium: (Whirring Marvels In) Consensus Reality (2023, Temporary Residence): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Avalon Emerson: & the Charm (2023, Another Dove): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Fred Again/Brian Eno: Secret Life (2023, Text): [sp]: B
  • Fruit Bats: A River Running to Your Heart (2023, Merge): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Asher Gamedze: Turbulence and Pulse (2020-21 [2023], International Anthem/Mushroom Hour): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Devin Gray: Most Definitely (2023, Rataplan): [cdr]: B+(**) [06-09]
  • Gordon Grdina/Mat Maneri/Christian Lillinger: Live at the Armoury (2023, Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Wolfgang Haffner: Silent World (2022 [2023], ACT): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Gerrit Hatcher: Solo Five (2021 [2023], Kettle Hole): [cd]: B+(***)
  • James Holden: Imagine This Is a High Dimensional Space of All Possibilities (2023, Border Community): [sp]: B+(*)
  • François Houle Genera Sextet: In Memoriam (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Wesley Joseph: Glow (2023, Secretly Canadian, EP): [sp]: B
  • Kaytraminé [Aminé/Kaytranada]: Kaytraminé (2023, Venice Music): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Kesha: Gag Order (2023, Kemosabe): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Elle King: Come Get Your Wife (2023, RCA): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Russ Lossing: Alternate Side Parking Music (2019 [2023], Aqua Piazza): [cd]: B+(***) [07-07]
  • Sei Miguel Unit Core: Road Music (2016-21 [2023], Clean Feed): [bc]: B
  • Sei Miguel: The Original Drum (2015-21 [2023], Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Dominic Miller: Vagabond (2021 [2023], ECM): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Graham Nash: Now (2023, BMG): [sp]: B-
  • Kassa Overall: Animals (2023, Warp): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Afonso Pais/Tomás Marques: The Inner Colours of Bogin's Outline (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): [sp]: B
  • Arlo Parks: My Soft Machine (2023, Transgressive): [sp]: A-
  • Iggy Pop: Every Loser (2023, Gold Tooth/Atlantic): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Raye: My 21st Century Blues (2023, Human Re Sources): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Whitney Rose: Rosie (2023, MCG): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Brandon Seabrook: Brutalovechamp (2022 [2023], Pyroclastic): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Lauritz Skeidsvoll & Isach Skeidsvoll Duo: Chanting Moon, Dancing Sun: Live at Molde International Jazz Festival (2020 [2023], Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Henry Threadgill Ensemble: The Other One (2022 [2023], Pi): [cd]: A-
  • Yonic South: Devo Challenge Cup (2023, Wild Honey, EP): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Brandee Younger: Brand New Life (2023, Impulse): [sp]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Galcher Lustwerk: 100% Galcher (2013 [2022], Ghostly International): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Tolerance: Anonym (1979 [2023], Mesh-Key): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Tolerance: Divin (1981 [2023], Mesh-Key): [sp]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • Bas Jan: Yes I Jan (2018, Lost Map): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Bas Jan: Yes We Jan (2018, Lost Map): [sp]: B
  • Noah Howard: At Judson Hall (1966 [1968], ESP-Disk): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Tuli Kupferberg: No Deposit No Return (1967, ESP-Disk): [sp]: B+(*)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Phil Haynes/Drew Gress/David Liebman: Coda(s): No Fast Food III (Corner Store Jazz) [06-15]
  • Ryan Meagher: AftEarth (Atroefy) [05-19]


Added grades for remembered lps from way back when:

  • Tuli Kupferberg: Tuli and Friends (1989, Shimmy Disc): B+
  • Linda Lewis: Not a Little Girl Anymore (1975, Arista): B

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Speaking of Which

Blog link.

I started collecting this on Thursday, and was pretty much done on Saturday before the "debt ceiling deal" broke. Most of the links there are to now-forgettable, soon-forgotten thinking, which I sympathized at the time, but the thing I like best about the deal is that it kills the issue until well after the 2024 election, whereas the unorthodox fixes would be litigated that long, even if they're ultimately found valid. In the meantime, the Republican House is going to cut more spending and encumber it with more stupid rules than Biden agreed to this round. The only response to that is to kick their asses in 2024, and any cause they give you should be used back against them.


Top story threads:

Ron DeSantis: The Florida governor announced he's running for president, which got enough ughs and moans to temporarily bump Trump off the top spot here.

Trump and other Republicans:

The debt ceiling: Latest reports are that Biden and McCarthy came to some sort of deal, which still needs to be passed before the latest June 5 disaster date projection (see: Li Zhou/Dylan Matthews: [05-28] Biden and McCarthy's budget deal to lift the debt ceiling, explained). Nihilist Republicans will still try to trash the deal (e.g., see: Furious Freedom Caucus vows to scuttle debt deal), so it will need Democratic votes to pass Congress. Left Democrats will also be unhappy that Biden went back on his initial position and caved in negotiations with terrorists. But most Democrats are solidly pro-business, and will line up behind any deal to save capitalism -- even one that hurts many of their voters. Most of the links below are pre-deal (check dates).

Ukraine War: There is a report that first steps in counteroffensive have begun. Ukraine has been advertising its "spring offensive" all winter, while pleading for more and more weapons, and waiting their arrival.

  • Connor Echols: [05-26] Diplomacy watch: Denmark offers to hold Ukraine peace talks in July: That sounds kinda squishy, but expectations are high that Ukraine will launch a "spring offensive" soon, and they're unlikely to consider any form of talks until they first give war a chance -- after all, that is the point and the promise of all those tanks and planes they've been lobbying so hard for. Echols also wrote: [05-22] The West must prepare for Putin to use nukes in Ukraine. Interview with Brig. Gen. Kevin Ryan, whose prediction that Russia will use nukes seems intended on pushing them along. But how exactly does one prepare for such an attack? It's not like fallout shelters are a practical project at this time. The only real defense is negotiating a winding down of the war. Anything else is just fucking insane. Robert Wright: also writes about Ryan: [05-26] Why the chances of nuclear war grew this week.

  • Julian E Barnes: [05-26] Russian public appears to be souring on war casualties, analysis shows: I'd be inclined to file this under propaganda, not least because no one's reporting solid casualty figures. But sure, you can't totally hide these costs, so it makes sense that ordinary Russians would start to question the mission -- as happened with the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Just how that public perception can turn into policy is hard to imagine. Gorbachev gave his generals enough rope to hang themselves, then pulled the plug. Putin, on the other hand, is much more invested this time.

  • Isaac Chotiner: [05-24] Why Masha Gessen resigned from the PEN America board: An interview.

  • Eli Clifton: [05-24] Dedollarization is here, like it or not: The effective shift may have more to do with the US-China conflict, but Ukraine sanctions are convincing more and more nations not to trust the US. Few people talk about this, but the debt ceiling nonsense is further undermining world trust in the dollar. Clifton also wrote: [05-26] Jamie Raskin and Rachel Maddow, brought to you by Peter Thiel and Lockheed Martin.

  • David Cortright/Alexander Finiarel: [05-25] Russians' support for the war may be softer than you think. I've always suspected there was little public support for war, which is why Putin moved so decisively to quash dissent. Still, there is no evidence that Putin's grasp on power is precarious.

  • Daniel L Davis: [05-21] F-16s won't fundamentally alter the course of Ukraine War.

  • Gregory Foster: [05-26] How war is destroying Ukraine's environment.

  • Ellen Ioanes: [05-21] How Ukraine is trying to woo the Global South -- and why it's so hard: Ukraine has massive support from the US and Europe, but the rest of the world is a much tougher sell.

  • Fred Kaplan: [05-16] How the Russia-Ukraine war has changed Europe: Mostly on Germany, where Kaplan spent a month recently. Russia burned a lot of bridges when they invaded Ukraine, and this has pushed Europe back into a closer alliance with America. The link title suggested a broader topic: "The ripple effects from the Ukraine War are becoming clear now." That could have been a more interesting story. Kaplan also wrote: [05-20] The alarming reality of a coming nuclear arms race.

  • Michael Klare: [05-18] The G-3 and the post-Ukraine world: The Ukraine War dominated the latest G-7 confab, with all seven powers -- effectively the US and its six dwarfs -- firmly in the pro-Ukraine/anti-Russia camp. But it's impossible for such a group to mediate regional conflicts when they're busy fighting them. Back in the day, the US and USSR could quickly agree to impose a ceasefire on their clients (as they did in the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli Wars), yet no one today can do that -- even Klare's hypothetical G-2 of the US and China, or G-3 adding India (the world's most populous country; as Klare notes, the three of them would represent 40% of all people on the planet). Getting those three nations to work together for world peace will be much harder than lining up the G-7 to ratify Washington's wishes, but might actually work. This complements a piece by Juan Cole: [05-16] China and the Axis of the Sanctioned, occasioned by China taking the lead in reconciling Saudi Arabia and Iran.

  • Eric Levitz: [05-24] Will the Ukraine War become a 'frozen conflict'? By "frozen conflict" he seems to mean something like Korea, where fighting has halted but neither side admits defeat or can reconcile with the other. Apparently, this is an idea being circulated in Washington (see Nahal Toosi: [05-18] Ukraine could join ranks of 'frozen' conflicts, US official say). But that's no solution. The main thing that's allowed the Korean War "freeze" to persist is how isolated North Korea is from the rest of the world. Russia is a much larger country, with a much more complex set of trading partners and relationships, including a large portion of the world not currently on board with America's sanctions regime.

  • Anatol Lieven: [05-25] Ukraine attacks in Russia should be an alarm bell for Washington: Supposedly the US disapproves of such attacks, but that doesn't seem to be limiting the supply of weapons that could be used to attack beyond the Russian border. This is doubly dangerous as long as the US seems to be leaning against peace talks.

  • Kelley Beaucar Vlahos: [05-23] What does the fall of Bakhmut in Ukraine really mean? Interview with Anatol Lieven and George Beebe.

Around the world:


Other stories:

Dean Baker: [05-22] Should Jamie Dimon get a government salary? Points out that Dimon got $34.5 million last year as CEO of JP Morgan, and stands to get much more in coming years, despite much evidence of mismanagement. On the other hand, the head of FDIC makes $181 thousand, and the head of the Fed makes $190 thousand. I'm not really sure how the suggestion that bank heads should be put on civil service salaries would work, but it seems unlikely it would undermine the competency of management, and it might make the banks a bit less predatory. Then there's inequality: "We have let the right rig the market to generate the extremes of inequality we see. While government tax and transfer policy to reduce inequality is desirable, it is best not to structure the market to create so much inequality in the first place."

Zachary D Carter: [03-16] On Silicon Valley Bank, and finance as a public good: This is old as news goes, but worth the effort. One current thought is to wonder how many similar banks would have failed had the feds defaulted on the debt. I also like this line: "Nobody ever just came out and said it, but the basic attitude from the bill's Democratic supporters seemed to be that it was unfair to harp on Democrats doing something corrupt and stupid when Republicans were corrupt and stupid as a matter of principle."

Coral Davenport: [05-28] You've never heard of him, but he's remaking the pollution fight: "Richard Revesz is changing the way the government calculates the cost and benefits of regulation, with far-reaching implications for climate change."

David Dayen: [05-25] A liberalism that builds power: "The goals of domestic supply chains, good jobs, carbon reduction, and public input are inseparable." Related:

David French: [05-28] The right is all wrong about masculinity: Occasioned by Josh Hawley's silly new book, but no need to dwell there when the inanity is everywhere: "But conservative catastrophism is only one part of the equation. The other is meanspirited pettiness. Traditional masculinity says that people should meet a challenge with a level head and firm convictions. Right-wing culture says that everything is an emergency, and is to be combated with relentless trolling and hyperbolic insults."

Luke Goldstein: [05-24] How Washington bargained away rural America: How farm bills get made, usually a bipartisan grand bargain ensuring food (SNAP) for the poor and profits for agribusiness.

DD Guttenplan/John Nichols: [05-26] Biden must remake his candidacy: I doubt I'll bother with many of the articles I'm sure we'll be seeing as various Democrats debate strategy going into 2024. But the point these left-Democrats make about Biden's lousy polling numbers is valid. It means that he can't run a campaign based on his personal charisma while ignoring the needs of his party, as Clinton did in 1996, and as Obama did in 2012. To win, he needs a Democratic Party sweep, giving him sufficient margins in Congress to actually get things done. You'd think Republicans are making such a campaign easy, but the media landscape remain treacherous, and Democrats have little practice settling on a winning message.

Benji Jones: [05-23] Why the new Colorado River agreement is a big deal -- even if you don't live out West.

Peter Kafka: [05-23] Do Americans really want "unbiased" news? "CNN and the Messenger both say they're chasing the middle." Well, bias is inevitable, and just because its 'centrist" variation is often incoherent doesn't except it from the rule. You can, of course, muddy up the situation by providing countervailing points of view, but as a practical matter that rarely works. In theory, you could clarify the situation by taking an unflinchingly critical view of everything, but in today's political arena, that would get you tagged as "left-biased" because the right is almost always not just wrong but lying their asses off.

Ian Millhiser:

Timothy Noah: [05-26] Why workers will be treated better in the future. Researchers have noticed that in many cases higher wages pay for themselves, but it usually takes pressure to get companies to move in that direction. So much of what Noah predicts is based on the notion that political power will shift toward workers. It's clear enough what needs to happen, but harder to see how it happens. But the great suppression of wages can clearly be dated to the rise of Reagan Republicans in the 1980s.

McKenna Oxenden: [05-27] An 11-year-old boy called 911. Police then shot him.

Aja Romano: [05-24] Puritanism took over online fandom -- and then came for the rest of the internet: "Puriteens, anti-fans, and the culture war's most bonkers battleground." After reading Kurt Andersen's Fantasyland, I should have been prepared for this piece, but my basic reaction is to imagine that no one, even the author, could have anticipated how much more blurred the line between fantasy and reality could become in a mere six years. Less clear is how ominous all this fantasy is.

The temptation to inhabit imaginary worlds probably goes back to the oral folklore preserved as myths, and certainly encompasses the whole history of literature (usually explicitly labeled fiction). In recent years, three inventions have intensified this: television has immersed us in fiction, making it both easier to consume and more much vivid; gaming has added an interactive dimension; and the internet (social media) has made it trivially easy for people to react and expound upon the stories. As long as people recognize the line between fact and fiction, and as long as they maintain respect and decorum in their posts, it's hard to see much harm. But there have always been gray areas, especially where fantasy is presented as fact, even more so when it's driven by malign politics. Still, the problem here is less the art than the politics. As long as you can keep them straight, I don't see much problem. (For instance, we watch a lot of shows where cops are extraordinarily insightful and smart, have integrity and character, are profoundly committed to justice, and rarely if ever make gross mistakes -- traits uncommon among real cops.)

One thing that made this article difficult is the terminology. In particular, I had to go to Fanlore to find a definition of shipping: it is contracted from relationship, and used for promoting or derogating hypothetical relationships between fictional characters. This all seems to be tied to an increase in anti-sex attitudes -- no doubt this is amplified by the internet, but really? -- including an obsession with pedophilia and trafficking. Supposedly this has been made worse by the FOSTA-SESTA act, which originally sounded unobjectionable but its loudest advocates can turn it into cruel repression.

Jim Rutenberg/Michael S Schmidt/Jeremy W Peters: [05-27] Missteps and miscalculations: Inside Fox's legal and business debacle: "Fox's handling of the defamation suit brought by Dominion Voting Systems, which settled for $787.5 million, left many unanswered questions."

Lily Sánchez/Nathan J Robinson: [05-18] Robert F Kennedy Jr is a lying crank posing as a progressive alternative to Biden. Also:

Richard Sandomir: [05-27] Stanley Engerman, revisionist scholar of slavery, dies at 87: Engerman co-wrote, with Robert W Fogel, the 1974 book Time on the Cross: The Economics of Negro Slavery, which significantly changed our understanding of how slavery function within American capitalism. Fogel & Engerman were among the first prominent historians to base their work on extensive data analysis, as opposed to the standard practice of collecting stories from primary and secondary sources.

Jeffrey St Clair: [05-26] The Clintons and the rich women: No "roaming charges" this week, sad to say, so St Clair dusted off an oldie from his book, An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (a compilation of short essays published in 2022). This one explores the lobbying effort (and the money behind it) that secured Marc Rich a pardon in 2000. One surprise name that pops up here is Jack Quinn.

Maureen Tkacik: [05-23] Quackonomics: "Medical Properties Trust spent billions buying community hospitals in bewildering deals that made private equity rich and working-class towns reel."

Nick Turse: [05-23] Blood on his hands: "Survivors of Kissinger's secret war in Cambodia reveal unreported mass killings." More occasioned by his 100th birthday:

  • Ben Burgis: [05-27] Henry Kissinger is a disgusting war criminal. And the rot goes deeper than him.

  • Greg Grandin: [05-15] Henry Kissinger, war criminal -- still at large at 100: "We now know a great about the crimes he committed while in office, . . . But we know little about his four decades with Kissinger Associates." Grandin has a 2015 book on Kissinger: Kissinger's Shadow: The Long Reach of America's Most Controversial Statesman. In that book, I found this quote, based on Seymour Hersh's 1983 Kissinger book, The Price of Power:

    Hersh gave us the defining portrait of Kissinger as a preening paranoid, tacking between ruthlessness and sycophancy to advance his career, cursing his fate and letting fly the B-52s. Small in his vanities and shabby in his motives, Kissinger, in Hersh's hands, is nonetheless Shakespearean because the pettiness gets played out on a world stage with epic consequences.

  • Jonathan Guyer: [05-27] Henry Kissinger is 100, but his legacy is still shaping how US foreign policy works. I've never tried to figure out how much US foreign policy in the pivotal 1969-75 period was Kissinger as opposed to Nixon. My guess was that Kissinger added intellectual filigree to Nixon's baser impulses, but Kissinger was callous enough to suit Nixon's needs. As for his later freelance efforts, I knew few specifics, so I'm most likely to chalk them up as ordinary graft. With all the criminality -- in some ways, Kissinger's most damaging legacy isn't what he did but that he made such things seem normal, expected even, for those who followed -- it's easy to overlook one of Nixon's most important moves, which was to end the Bretton-Woods system, during which the US was responsible for maintaining a stable capitalist world market. After, it was each nation for itself, which ultimately turned into the US (and the few "allies" it intimidated) against the world.

  • Fred Kaplan: [05-27] Henry Kissinger's bloody legacy: "The dark side of Kissinger's tradecraft left a deep stain on vast quarters of the globe -- and on America's own reputation."

  • Jerelle Kraus: [05-27] Henry Kissinger: A war criminal who has not once faced the bar of justice.

  • Bhaskar Sunkara/Jonah Walters: [05-27] Henry Kissinger turns 100 this week. He should be ashamed to be seen in public: The picture, from 2011, shows him with a rather giddy-looking Hillary Clinton.

You can also watch a piece from the Mehdi Hasan Show on Kissinger. You might also take a look at this chart of life expectancy in Cambodia, which falls off a cliff during the years Kissinger was in power (1969-77). Some commenters want to make a distinction between bombing deaths (150-500K) and the genocide unleashed by the Khmer Rouge (1.5-3M), but the the former destabilized the studiously neutral Sihanouk regime, allowing the Khmer Rouge to seize power.

Kayla M Williams: [05-28] Who should we honor on Memorial Day? The article argues that many veterans are unfairly not counted among the war dead heroes because they were felled by longer, slower maladies that only started in war, such as exposure to toxic chemicals (Agent Orange in Vietnam, burn pits in Iraq) or PTSD (the suicide rate among veterans if if anything even higher than the battlefield death rate). I have no quarrel with that argument, but my initial gut reaction to the title is that we shouldn't limit honor to war dead or even to veterans.

When I was young, the focus of Memorial Day was Fluty Cemetery down in Arkansas: either we went there, or my mother arranged for flowers to be placed there by relatives. Some served, but none of the people I knew of under the headstones were killed in war. But they worked the hardscrabble Ozark soil, and built homes and families, eventually leading to me (and, well, many others). As far as I know, they were all honorable people, and deserved remembrance. Of course, those who did die in war deserve remembrance as well, but less for their lives (however valiant) than for their waste, which we should be reminded of lest we blunder into even more wasteful wars.

Li Zhou: [05-23] Montana's TikTok ban -- and the legal challenge of it -- explained. My preferred solution is to ban all companies from collecting personal data, much less passing it on to others. If that impacts their business models, maybe that's a good thing.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Music Week

Expanded blog post, May archive (in progress).

Tweet: Music Week: 41 albums, 5 A-list,

Music: Current count 40245 [40204] rated (+41), 42 [42] unrated (+0: 14 new, 28 old).

Worn out after writing yesterday's Speaking of Which. Actually, worn out before I rushed that out, only to catch the last quarter of Heat-Celtics, with the B-teams nursing a 30-point blowout. Looking back, the no-comment Irfan (weather) piece could have been followed by pages. And the Burleigh piece reminds us that billionaires aren't just harmless eccentrics -- as does the whole section on Trump, I guess.

It looks like the center-right won in Greece, after Syriza caved under pressure from the Eurozone masters. For background on Greece, see James Galbraith's The Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe (2016). One should note that the big difference between debt in Greece and in the US has nothing to do with quantity. It's simply that Greece's debt is tied to the Euro, a currency they can't control, making them vulnerable to the nasty whims of foreign bankers.

Nothing much to add to the music below, which is short on jazz, especially up top -- but I have more catching up elsewhere. Ware was a late promotion, one I'm still a bit iffy about. Oladokun was brought forward from next week. Brubeck got a chance when I saw I was about to go another week with no Old Music. Skyzoo could have made the A-list on sound alone, but I was less satisfied with the story concept -- something I rarely notice, so perhaps that should have been a positive.

I've started working on a website overhaul, but don't have much to show for it yet. The idea is to create a parallel structure I can copy old content into. Hopefully it will be better organized, less ramschackle. But mainly it's meant to give me a fresh start on the book projects (discarding the old attempts).

I also have some small home projects to get to, before it gets too hot -- which is sometimes the case already.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Nia Archives: Sunrise Bang Ur Head Against Tha Wall (2023, Island, EP): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Artemis: In Real Time (2023, Blue Note): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Daniel Caesar: Never Enough (2023, Republic): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Lewis Capaldi: Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent (2023, Captiol): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Sylvie Courvoisier & Cory Smythe: The Rite of Spring/Spectre D'Un Songe (2021 [2023], Pyroclastic): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Defprez: It's Always a Time Like This (2023, Closed Sessions, EP): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Orhan Demir: Solo Guitar: Freedom in Jazz (2019, Hittite): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Orhan Demir: Solo Guitar: Freedom in Jazz Vol. 2 (2020, Hittite): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Orhan Demir: Solo Guitar: Freedom in Jazz Vol. 3 (2023, Hittite): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Joe Farnsworth: In What Direction Are You Headed? (2022 [2023], Smoke Sessions): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Satoko Fujii: Torrent: Piano Solo (2022 [2023], Libra): [cd]: B+(**) [06-02]
  • Alison Goldfrapp: The Love Invention (2023, Skint/BMG): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Kara Jackson: Why Does the Earth Give Us People to Love? (2023, September): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Faten Kanaan: Afterpoem (2023, Fire): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Yazmin Lacey: Voice Notes (2023, On Your Own/Believe): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Lankum: False Lankum (2023, Rough Trade): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Joëlle Léandre/Craig Taborn/Mat Maneri: hEARoes (2022 [2023], RogueArt): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Max Light: Henceforth (2022 [2023], SteepleChase): [cd]: B+(**) [06-16]
  • Logic: College Park (2023, Three Oh One/BMG): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Alex LoRe & Weirdear: Evening Will Find Itself (2021 [2023], Whirlwind): [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Joe Lovano Trio Tapestry [Marilyn Crispell/Carmen Castaldi]: Our Daily Bread (2022 [2023], ECM): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Mat Muntz: Phantom Islands (2021 [2023], Orenda): [sp]: B-
  • Navy Blue: Ways of Knowing (2023, Def Jam): [sp]: A-
  • Joy Oladokun: Proof of Life (2023, Amigo/Verve Forecast/Republic): [sp]: A-
  • Bill Orcutt: Jump on It (2023, Palilalia): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Paramore: This Is Why (2023, Atlantic): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Princess Nokia: I Love You but This Is Goodbye (2023, Arista, EP): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Rae Sremmurd: Sremm 4 Life (2023, EarDruma/Interscope): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Rough Image: Rough Image (2023, WV Sorcerer): [bc]: B+(***)
  • SBTRKT: The Rat Road (2023, AWAL): [sp]: B
  • Skyzoo & the Other Guys: The Mind of a Saint (2023, First Generation Rich): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Sunny War: Anarchist Gospel (2023, New West): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Ramana Vieira: Tudo De Mim (All of Me) (2023, self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Jessie Ware: That! Feels Good! (2023, PMR/EMI): [sp]: A-
  • Wednesday: Rat Saw God (2023, Dead Oceans): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Gaia Wilmer Large Ensemble: Folia: The Music of Egberto Gismonti (2023, Sunnyside): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Billy Woods & Kenny Segal: Maps (2023, Backwoodz Studioz): [sp]: A-
  • Jacob Young/Mats Eilertsen/Audun Kleive: Eventually (2021 [2023], ECM): [sp]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Ruth Anderson/Annea Lockwood: Tęte-Ŕ-Tęte (1974-2020 [2023], Ergot): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Bill Evans: Treasures: Solo, Trio & Orchestral Recordings From Denmark (1965-1969) (1965-69 [2023], Elemental, 2CD): [sp]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • Dave Brubeck Quartet: Park Avenue South (2002 [2003], Telarc): [yt]: A-


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Nanny Assis: Rovanio: The Music of Nanny Assis (In + Out) [06-23]
  • Javon Jackson: With Peter Bradley: Soundtrack and Original Score (Solid Jackson) [06-16]
  • Clifford Jordan: Drink Plenty Water (1974, Harvest Song) [06-01]
  • Brian McCarthy Nonet: After Life (Truth Revolution) [05-26]
  • Noshir Mody: A Love Song (self-released) [05-26]
  • Edward Simon: Femininas: Songs of Latin American Women (ArtistShare) * [06-08]
  • Henry Threadgill Ensemble: The Other One (Pi) [05-26]

Monday, May 22, 2023

Speaking of Which

Blog link.

Let this be done. I'd rather go watch the basketball game -- well, practically anything -- than keep digging up more articles I have to comment on. Especially ones that suggest that Biden's is not going to do the right thing and tell the Republicans where to stuff their extortion demands.


Top story threads:

Trump: He didn't do much new this week, but he's still the cutting edge of Republican dystopia, so might as well hang onto the top slot here.

  • Ed Burmila: [05-21] How Trump left Washington even swampier: "The battle for power and influence in the nation's capital is more shameless, desperate, and embarrassing than ever."

  • Michael Tomasky: [05-18] Donald Trump against America: "He loves an America of his twisted imagination. He hates -- and fears -- the America that actually exists. And if he gets back to the White House . . . look out." I would have skipped over the diatribe on Trump's call for "peace without delay" in Ukraine, and I wouldn't have interpreted "reevaluating NATO's purpose" as "giving Putin a free hand in what the Russian dictator calls the 'near abroad.'" Trump had similar sentiments when he became president in 2017, but failed to do anything constructive about them, and would likely find the State/Defense/CIA blob equally inpenetrable in 2025. His real threat is elsewhere, as Tomasky goes on to demonstrate: in 2016 he sold a vision that he could "make America great again," and declared America "great" as soon as he got elected -- not that many people noticed much change. But like a bad movie sequel, this time he's out for redemption and revenge. There are people who will relish just that, but a majority? Even outside of the America he's written off, the one he's sworn to destroy, that's going to be a tall order.

  • Michael Tomasky: [05-19] Did Donald Trump seriously sell pardons? The question is being raised in a complaint against Rudy Giuliani, along with much more. For that, see Prem Thakker: [05-16] Rudy Giuliani is a raging alcoholic and sexual predator, says new lawsuit.

Republicans:

Economy and Debt:

  • Jen Kirby: [05-19] What a debt default could mean for America's superpower status: Interview with Marcus Noland, mostly about the demand for US Treasuries and dollars abroad. One side effect could be that it becomes harder to enforce US sanctions against target nations. Given that sanctions rarely work, that doesn't strike me as much of a problem, but there are people with a lot of money at stake, and long-term this gives other nations incentive to cut the US out of their banking systems.

  • Paul Krugman:

    • [05-19] Death, Napoleon and debt: Just the fundamentals. Anyone who claims that governments should pay off their debts like individual have to is profoundly stupid, or (more likely) trying to snow you. Individuals age and die, so their creditors need to get repaid before they lose out. But governments go on and on, usually with growing economy and taxes, so all they have to do is service the debt, which is easy (especially if it is denominated in currency you control).

    • [05-18] Will the US economy pull off a 'soft landing'? His definition is unemployment under 4% and inflation under 3%. Over the last few months inflation has come down a lot while unemployment has increased little, so this convergence seems plausible. However, if the Fed holds to its 2% inflation target, and insists on achieving it through high interest rates and induced recession, this would get bumpier.

    • [05-16] How Biden blew it on the debt ceiling. This was written a few days ago, when Biden and McCarthy were meeting, and signals appeared that some sort of deal was imminent. As of the moment [05-21] that prospect appears to have been quashed by the Republicans, who are greedy and/or malicious.

  • Jason Linkins: [05-20] The Beltway media is spreading debt limit misinformation: "The political press bears a share of the blame for the fact we are once again on the precipice of default."

  • Branko Marcetic: [05-19] The debt ceiling crisis is laying bare the lies both parties tell their voters.

  • Jeff Stein: [05-14] 7 doomsday scenarios if the US crashes through the debt ceiling: stocks crash; a sudden recession; federal workers in limbo; Social Security and Medicare miss payments; US borrowing costs soar; economic problems spread worldwide; the dollar drops, along with US prestige. As one commenter puts it: "These outcomes read like a GOP Wish List. If they can make things bad enough people would welcome a strongman dictator, particularly a fascist like 45 who will blame it all on minorities, immigrants, gays, Democrats, nasty Women, etc., etc." Still, this is one problem that Trump actually could solve in a day, inasmuch as all it would take is for Republicans in Congress to pass a bill that raises the debt limit (as they did repeatedly for Trump). Stein's piece was recycled from an earlier one. He's been covering this issue with little insight into either the politics or economics. A recent piece is [05-20] GOP rejects White House compromise to limit spending as talks stall, partly because debt-conscious Republicans want even higher defense spending.

  • Dean Baker: [05-21] Quick note on the debt burden and the burden of patent and copyright monopolies.

Immigration:

Ukraine War: Russia claims to have taken Bakhmut after a nine-month siege. Ukraine denies this, but are pushing forces to encircle city. Meanwhile, Ukraine hasn't quite gotten around to its much-ballyhooed spring offensive, but has started to test Russian lines on southern front.

World:


Other stories:

Nina Burleigh: [05-16] Who is Leonard Leo's mysterious dark money king? "America needs to know who Barre Seid is, what kind of country he wants, and just how massive an impact his $1.6 billion gift can have on our political discourse."

Steve Early/Suzanne Gordon: [05-20] Corporate politicians are privatizing the VA, the crown jewel of socialized medicine: Phillip Longman wrote a book back in 2007 touting Best Care Anywhere: Why VA Health Care Is Better Than Yours. The basic reason was that not just insurance but actual care was fully socialized (directly run by the government). There were still a couple obvious problems: one is that while veterans were numerous and evenly distributed following WWII, the number of people eligible for VA care has steadily declined; the other is that care is concentrated in large centers, so for many veterans isn't easily accessible. Horror stories about access has led to various efforts for the VA to pay for profit-seeking care, which in turn jacks up costs while reducing quality. And needless to say, the privatization lobbies are all over this, and up to no good.

Connor Echols: [05-16] The War on Terror led to over 4.5 million deaths: That works out to a bit more than 1,000 revenge deaths for every American killed on 9/11. If you factor in American soldiers lost in those wars, the kill ratio drops to a bit more than 400-to-1. Occupying powers from the Romans to the Nazis made a point of threatening kill ratios of 10- or even 100-to-1 to deter rebellion -- a range that Israel has pretty consistently maintained. Of course, you can reduce the ratio further by including contractor deaths (8,000), suicides by veterans (30,000), and deaths of various allies (both local and foreign), but that hardly offers any comfort. (Some of these numbers come from Brown University's Costs of War page.)

Lee Harris: [05-17] Rahm Emmanuel's gas pipeline: "The Biden administration is promoting a new liquefied natural gas complex on the Pacific Coast, with expanded subsidies from the bipartisan infrastructure bill and Inflation Reduction Act." "West Coast" means Alaska. We counted ourselves lucky that Biden didn't give Emmanuel a post, but the only real difference is that now he's explicitly working for the oil and gas industry. Article quotes Lukas Ross: "Rahm Emmanuel did more than any single individual to sabotage Barack Obama's climate agenda at a time when there were congressional majorities."

Patrick Iber: [05-15] When Milton Friedman met Pinochet: "Chicago economists had free rein in Chile. The country is still recovering." Review of Sebastian Edwards: The Chile Project: The Story of the Chicago Boys and the Downfall of Neoliberalism.

Umair Irfan: [05-17] It's not just climate disasters. "Normal" weather is getting weirder, too.

Whizy Kim: [05-19] The billionaire's guide to self-help: "It's a phenomenon of our age that entrepreneurs are celebrities at all."

Eric Levitz: [05-19] The return of the emerging Democratic majority? The 2002 book of that name, by John Judis and Ruy Teixeira, fell flat, but new research suggests that young voters (Gen Z/Millennials) have continued to break for Democrats, and are becoming more dependable voters.

Ian Millhiser:

Mark Paul: [05-16] Economists hate rent control. Here's why they're wrong. In my own experience, I've always felt landlords enjoyed a huge power advantage every time a lease was up, as well as all the rest of the time. So I've long felt that some sort of countervaling power was needed. Rent control would help, but as this article admits, that's only goes so far.

Joshua Raff: [05-20] John Durham's vacuous report: A fitting end to Bill Barr's ugly legacy: Barr appointed Durham as an independent counsel to dig into the origins of the 2016 FBI investigation of allegations that the Trump campaign was in cahoots with the Russians. After four years, Durham submitted a report, which Attorney General Merrick Garland released "unexpurgated, unredacted and without comment or commentary." As someone who never put any stock into that thing called Russiagate, and who is whatever the polar opposite of shocked is at the suggestion that the FBI might have been swayed by politics, I have no interest in the fine points here (if, indeed, there are any). But I'll add a couple more links (without elevating it to a section):

Becca Rothfeld: [05-18] How to be a man? Josh Hawley has the (incoherent) answers. Well, he has a book called Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs, which the reviewer notes is "the latest in a long line of guides," citing others by Jack Donovan, Jordan Peterson, Robert Bly, and Harvey Mansfeld. Insights? "Men do not 'blame someone or something else,' such as 'society,' or 'the system,' but men do, apparently, blame 'Epicurean liberalism' for almost everything that ails them." And: "A man is a rugged individualist who figures things out for himself, but he also relies on how-to guides to teach him how to exist."

Dylan Scott: [05-19] Hundreds of thousands of Americans are losing Medicaid every month: "Medicaid's 'Great Unwinding' is even worse than experts expected."

Avi Selk/Herb Scribner: [05-16] Musk says George Soros 'hates humanity,' compares him to Jewish supervillain. I know nothing about Magneto, but the admission that the villain "drew inspiration from Zionist leaders Ze'ev Jabotinsky and Meir Kahane" is troubling on multiple levels. But what is clear is that Musk views his political antipathy to Soros as clearly tied to Soros's identity as a Jew. Why Musk thinks that Soros "hates humanity" and "wants to erode the very fabric of civilization" isn't specified.

Also on Musk:

Jeffrey St Clair: [05-19] Roaming Charges: Living With the Unacceptable: Starts with a classic Dwight MacDonald quote: "The Ford Foundation is a large body of money completely surrounded by people who want some." Sure, it's part of a fund appeal, but it doesn't hit you over the head.

Li Zhou: [05-17] How Democrats pulled off a big upset in Florida: Jacksonville ("the most populous Republican-led city in the country") elected Donna Deegan mayor.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Music Week

Expanded blog post, May archive (in progress).

Tweet: Music Week: 46 albums, 6 A-list,

Music: Current count 40204 [40158] rated (+46), 42 [44] unrated (-2: 14 new, 28 old).

Nice selection across the board this week. The three new albums all have recommended antecedents: Brötzmann-Drake is their second Moroccan album, following The Catch of a Ghost with Maâlem Moukhtar Gania (a more famous Ganaoua master than Bekkas); Buck 65 follows up on last year's King of Drums with a consistency that's defined its own take on old school; Dave Rempis and Elisabeth Harnik collaborated on an earlier album, Astragaloi (2022, with Michael Zerang).

Same could be said for the reissue/vault finds: Thomas Anderson has a number of fine albums, the most comparable her being 2012's The Moon in Transit: Four-Track Demos, 1996-2009. Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens have another live album from the same tour, 1988's Paris-Soweto. While I can't point to a comparable Pharoah Sanders live album, he has notable earlier albums (like 1967's Tauhid) and even better later albums (1988's Africa, 1990's Welcome to Love, and 1992's Crescent With Love).

Of the high B+ albums, I should note two long (2-CD) sets that cut short, despite the sense that multiple plays might lift the grades a notch: Fire! Orchestra's Echoes, and Matt Mitchell's Oblong Aplomb. I suppose I could say the same thing about Withered Hand, which was impressive enough to grade higher, but didn't have enough personal appeal to make me want to. Robert Christgau gave the record a full A -- he's consistently much more taken with this artist than I am. Christgau also gave full A's to Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens, and to Boygenius -- the latter's The Record I dismissed as a B first time through, although pretty much everyone else loves it.

Noticed that I hadn't done the indexing for the April Streamnotes, so I knocked that out.


I posted a fairly substantial Speaking of Which yesterday evening. The growing right-wing adulation of murderers is especially troubling. Just ten years ago conservatives would take pains to distance themselves from such acts, but no more.

I'm into the last 50 pages of Kurt Andersen's Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire. The book was published in 2017, after Trump took office but before much of his term had played out. I just finished chapters on anti-vaxxers (including RFK Jr.) and "Gun Crazy": both could have been massive expanded to bring them up to the present.


New records reviewed this week:

  • William Bell: One Day Closer to Home (2023, Wilbe): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Big Joanie: Back Home (2022, Kill Rock Stars): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Peter Brötzmann/Majid Bekkas/Hamid Drake: Catching Ghosts (2022 [2023],ACT): [sp]: A-
  • Buck 65: 14 KT Gold (2023, self-released, EP): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Buck 65: Super Dope (2023, self-released): [bc]: A-
  • Mark Dresser: Times of Change (2019-22 [2023], Pyroclastic): [cd]: B+(***)
  • EABS Meets Jaubi: In Search of a Better Tomorrow (2023, Astigmatic): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Fire! Orchestra: Echoes (2022 [2023], Rune Grammofon): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Champian Fulton: Meet Me at Birdland (2022 [2023], Champian): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Hamish Hawk: Angel Numbers (2023, Post Electric): [sp]: B
  • Durand Jones: Wait Til I Get Over (2023, Dead Oceans): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Tyler Keith & the Apostles: Hell to Pay (2023, Black & Wyatt): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Kid Koala: Creatures of the Late Afternoon (2023, Envision): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Kiko El Crazy: Pila'e Teteo (2023, Rimas): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Toshinori Kondo/Massimo Pupillo/Tony Buck: Eternal Triangle (2019 [2022], I Dischi Di Angelica): [bc]: B+(*)
  • The Adam Larson Trio: With Love, From New York (2022 [2023], Outside In Music): [sp]: B+(**)
  • The Adam Larson Trio: With Love, From Kansas City (2021 [2022], Outside In Music): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Jinx Lennon: Walk Lightly When the Jug Is Full (2023, Septic Tiger): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Johan Lindström/Norrbotten Big Band: Johan Lindström & Norrbotten Big Band (2020 [2023], Moserobie): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Baaba Maal: Being (2023, Marathon Artists): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Matt Mitchell: Oblong Aplomb (2019-22 [2023], Out of Your Head, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***)
  • The National: First Two Pages of Frankenstein (2023, 4AD): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Naya Bazz [Rez Abbasi/Josh Feinberg]: Charm (2021-22 [2023], Whirlwind): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Parannoul: After the Magic (2023, Top Shelf): [sp]: B
  • Jeremy Pelt: The Art of Intimacy Vol. 2: His Muse (2023, HighNote): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Dave Rempis/Elisabeth Harnik/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Tim Daisy: Earscratcher (2022 [2023], Aerophonic): [dl]: A-
  • Rudy Royston Flatbed Buggy: Day (2022 [2023], Greenleaf Music): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Felipe Salles Interconnections Ensemble: Home Is Here (2022 [2023], Tapestry): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Sexmob: The Hard Way (2023, Corbett vs. Dempsey): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Alan Sondheim: Galut: Ballads of Wadi-Sabi (2023, ESP-Disk): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Star Feminine Band: In Paris (2022, Born Bad): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Ken Vandermark & Hamid Drake: Eternal River (2021 [2023], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Withered Hand: How to Love (2023, Reveal): [sp]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Thomas Anderson: The Debris Field: Lo-Fi Flotsam and Ragged Recriminations, 2000-2021 (2000-21 [2023], Out There): [sp]: A-
  • William Bell: Never Like This Before: The Complete 'Blue' Stax Singles 1961-1968 (1961-68 [2022], Kent Soul): [sp]: B+(**)
  • William Bell: The Man in the Street: The Complete 'Yellow' Stax Solo Singles 1968-1974 (1968-74 [2023], Kent Soul): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Ornette Coleman: Genesis of Genius: The Contemporary Albums (1958-59 [2022], Craft): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Dredd Foole and the Din: Songs in Heat 1982 (1982 [2023], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Buddy Guy & Junior Wells: Live From Chicago Blues Festival 1964 (1964 [2022], Good Time): [r]: B+(***)
  • Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens: Music Inferno: The Indestructible Beat Tour 1988-89 (1988-89 [2023], Umsakazo): [sp]: A-
  • Evan Parker/X-Jazz Ensemble: A Schist Story (2012 [2022], JACC): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Oscar Peterson: On a Clear Day: The Oscar Peterson Trio - Live in Zurich, 1971 (1971 [2022], Mack Avenue): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Abbey Rader/Davey Williams: In One Is All (1999 [2023], Abray): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Pharoah Sanders Quartet: Live at Fabrik: Hamburg 1980 (1980 [2023], Jazzline): [sp]: A-

Old music:

  • Star Feminine Band: Star Feminine Band (2020, Born Bad): [sp]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Christian Artmann: The Middle of Life (Sunnyside) [06-02]
  • Buselli/Wallarab Jazz Orchestra: The Gennett Suite (Patois) [06-09]
  • Orhan Demir: Freedom in Jazz (Hittite) [2019]
  • Orhan Demir: Freedom in Jazz Vol. 2 (Hittite) [2020]
  • Orhan Demir: Freedom in Jazz Vol. 3 (Hittite) [2023]
  • Gerrit Hatcher: Solo Five (Kettle Hole) [05-12]
  • Johan Lindström/Norrbotten Big Band: Johan Lindström & Norrbotten Big Band (Moserobie) [05-12]

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Speaking of Which

Blog link.

Enough for now. Started early but with little enthusiasm, more links and fewer comments, as the Trump articles piled up. While it was gratifying to see Trump lose in court, he came out of the week looking more indomitable than ever.

One article to single out below is the long one by Nathan J Robinson and Noam Chomsky. Sure, it's old news, but it's the root of so much that is happening today (not least in Ukraine). Chomsky has been collecting this book for decades now, but Robinson helps a lot, advancing it beyond the usual dry contempt.


Top story threads:

Trump: On Tuesday, a jury found Trump guilty of sexual assault and defamation of E. Jean Carroll, and fined Trump $5 million. On Wednesday evening, CNN allowed Trump to flip the story, by hosting a "town hall" limited to his rabid followers, where among numerous other blatant lies, he doubled down, defaming Carroll again. Seems like a dubious legal strategy, but masterful politically.

Republicans:

The economy and its politics (including the debt ceiling): I'm seeing a lot of articles recently about how Biden is going to blink and give into McCarthy's extortion demands.

Courts:

Immigration:

  • Ellen Ioanes: [05-14] Title 42 is over. Immigration policy is still broken..

  • Ed Kilgore: [05-14] Immigration is still fueling Trump's political future: No doubt. It's also an issue that Democrats are having a very hard time coming up with a coherent policy on. Republicans are divided between moguls who want cheap labor and bigots who want zero immigration (except, perhaps, when Trump needs his next trophy wife, or someone like Rupert Murdoch wants to buy a television station). They, at least, can compromise on a program that lets the rich enter discreetly, that lets workers in through back channels to keep them powerless, and that displays maximum cruelty to everyone else. Democrats have it much harder: they are torn between loud advocates of even more immigration, even louder pleas for accepting refugees from every godforsaken corner of the world (many fleeing US-backed regimes, and many more from US-condemned ones), while most rank-and-file Democrats don't care much one way or another, but are willing to go along with the pro-immigrant forces because the anti-immigrants are so often racist and xenophobic. I suspect most Democrats would be happy with a reasoned compromise*, but Republicans like having a broken system they can campaign against without ever having to fix, so there's no one to compromise with. And in a world governed by sound bites, the demagogue always come off as strong and clear while the sophisticate looks muddled and middling.

  • Nicole Narea: [05-11] The seismic consequences of ending Title 42.

  • Tori Otten: [05-11] House Republicans pass immigration bill that would completely destroy asylum process.

*For a compromise, how about this? Clean up the undocumented backlog by allowing citizenship or subsidized return. Impose quotas to cut back on new immigration rates, at least for a few years. Figure out a way to distribute refugees elsewhere, subsidizing alternate destinations. (Everybody deserves to live somewhere safe and healthy, but that doesn't have to be the US.) And stop producing so many refugees (war, economic, climate) -- this may require more foreign aid (and not the military kind). And do real enforcement against illegal immigrants, including thorough checks on employment. But also get due process working.

Environment:

Artificial intelligence and other computations: Vox has a whole section on The rise of artificial intelligence, explained, and a few other articles have popped up. I've barely poked around in all this material, partly because I have my own ideas about what AI can and/or should do -- I had a fairly serious interest in the subject back in the 1980s, but haven't kept up with it -- and partly because I'm dubious about how it might affect me. (Although, as someone with serious writers block, this title caught my eye: If you're not using ChatGPT for your writing, you're probably making a mistake.

Ukraine War:

  • Connor Echols: [05-12] Diplomacy Watch: China's top diplomat earns mixed reception in Europe.

  • Anatol Lieven/Jake Werner: [05-12] Yes, the US can work with China for peace in Ukraine.

  • Eve Ottenberg: [05-12] Beltway mediocrities bumble toward Armageddon.

  • Kelley Beaucar Vlahos: [05-11] Trump tells CNN town hall: 'I want everyone to stop dying' in Ukraine. He actually has some points here, including the point about how calling Putin a war criminal only makes it harder to get to a deal. His brags that Putin wouldn't have invaded if Trump was president, and that if he were president, he'd end the war within 24 hours, seem pretty ridiculous. On the other hand, you have to ask yourself: would Putin have been more likely to invade knowing that he had a indifferent US president who wouldn't fight back, or because he feared he was being pushed into a corner by Biden's much more militant backing of an increasingly hardline Zelinsky? I find the latter much more plausible, but the conventional wisdom would argue that strengthening support for Ukraine should have deterred a Putin attack. Sure didn't work out that way.

  • Robert Wright: [05-12] The ultimate Blob blind spot: A recent Foreign Affairs has a batch of five pieces by foreign policy experts in the global south, casting into relief how Americans fail to see how others sees them. That leads to a lecture on the lack of "cognitive empathy" as a key defect among Blob thinkers. That's true enough, but I think there's a simpler and easier solution, which is to check your hubris and to admit that most things beyond your borders are beyond your control.

World:


Other stories:

Andrew Cockburn: [05-07] Getting the defense budget right: A (real) grand total, over $1.4 trillion: Significantly more than the already obscenely high $842 billion Department of Defense appropriation.

Ben Ehrenreich: [05-10] How climate change has shaped life on earth for millenia: Review of Peter Frankopan: The Earth Transformed: An Untold Story, which attempts to reframe all of human (and for that matter geologic) history in terms of climate change -- that being something we've lately noticed matters.

David A Farenthold/Tiff Fehr: [05-14] How to raise $89 million in small donations, and make it disappear: "A group of conservative operatives using sophisticated robocalls raised millions of dollars from donors using pro-police and pro-veteran messages. But instead of using the money to promote issues and candidates, an analysis by The New York Times shows, nearly all the money went to pay the firms making the calls and the operatives themselves, highlighting a flaw in the regulation of political nonprofits." Not to mention a flaw in the enforcement of consumer fraud laws.

Ed Kilgore: [05-08] Democrats shouldn't freak out over one really bad poll.

Erin Kissane: Blue skies over Mastodon: General piece on Twitter-alternatives, which in turn lead to Mike Masnick: Six Months In: Thoughts on the Current Post-Twitter Diaspora Options. Just FYI. Neither piece has convinced me to sign up for either, although it's fairly clear that my Twitter following is in decline (followers 591, but views on latest Music Week notice down to 227).

Eric Levitz: [05-11] Do the 'Woke' betray the left's true principles? A review of Susan Neiman's book, Left Is Not Woke. I'm all for emphasizing the primacy of the left-right axis, but I don't see much practical value in opposing that to woke. On the other hand, Levitz's take on "toxic forms of identity politics" are well taken. I recall from my own political evolution how I started out with a deep antipathy to rationalism, but changed my mind when I discovered that reason could lead to the right answers I had intuited, but put them on a much firmer basis.

David Owen: [04-24] The great electrician shortage: "Going green will depend on blue-collar workers. Can we train enough of them before time runs out?" Plumbers, too. I've spent months trying to get a plumber to fix a floor drain, which no one seems to want to touch. I'm tempted to rent a jackhammer and deal with it myself, but then again, I'm also a bit scared to.

Andrew Prokop: [05-12] The potential indictment of Hunter Biden, explained. If you care, some parameters. Worst case is that he's a fuck up who got sloppy on his taxes. Trump would say that makes him smart. The gun form is supposedly the clearest violation, but how often is that seriously investigated?

Nathan J Robinson:

Aja Romano: [05-12] Why the Vallow-Daybell murders are among the bleakest in true crime memory: I normally skip right over mundane crime stories, but the author is right, that this one is profoundly unsettling, not just for what a couple of very crazy people did but for the broader cultural roots of where their thoughts came from. By the way, Rexburg, Idaho, rings a bell: it was once described as the most Republican town in America.

Dylan Scott: [05-10] 3 things you should know about the end of the Covid public health emergency: "A hidden experiment in universal health care is about to end."

Jeffrey St Clair: [05-12] Roaming Charges: Neely Don't Surf: Starts off with the murder of Jordan Neely in a NYC subway car by Daniel Penny, who "loved surfing." He then links to a Clash song: "Charlie Don't Surf".

A society that systematically victimizes people tends to reflexively blame its victims for their own misfortune: poverty, hunger, chronic illness, homelessness, mental distress and, as we're witnessing once again with the case of Jordan Neely, even their own deaths.

Traditionally, this role has fallen to the New York Times and when it came to the murder on the F train they sprang into action. . . .

Penny is described as easy going, a people person, an unstressed former Marine who loved surfing. Yes, he too was jobless, but unlike Neely, he had aspirations. He wanted to become a bartender in Manhattan and a good citizen in the city he loved.

When the Times turns to Neely, we are treated to sketches in urban pathology -- the portrait a troubled black youth, who has been in decline since high school. His life is reduced to his rap sheet, his arrests, his confinements to the psych ward. . . . Neely is depicted as ranting, homeless, troubled, erratic, violent, mentally ill and ready to die. It's almost as if we're meant to believe that Neely's murder was a case of "suicide by vigilante." He was, the story implies, almost asking for someone to kill him.

After protests, NYC prosecutors finally announced that they will charge Penny "with Manslaughter in the Second Degree, which is classified as a Class C Non-Violent Felony, where first-time offenders often receive a non-incarceratory sentence, usually of probation."

Matt Taibbi, et al: [05-10] Report on the Censorship-Industrial Complex: The top 50 organizations to know: Taibbi wrote the introduction, which ginned up the title, while others wrote the profiles that follow. The organizations include a broad mix of non-profits with a few companies and government sections thrown in. They give you a good idea of who's monitoring the internet to identify misinformation. They may do a lot of complaining, but few have any actual ability to censor, which makes this one of the more tenuous X-industrial complex coinages.

Monday, May 08, 2023

Music Week

Expanded blog post, May archive (in progress).

Tweet: Music Week: 41 albums, 5 A-list,

Music: Current count 40158 [40117] rated (+41), 44 [48] unrated (-4: 16 new, 28 old).

Two side projects are relevant here. Last week, I pointed out that Rick Mitchell had interviewed me and Geoffrey Himes for his JJA Buzz podcast. The topic was About Jazz Polls. I was pretty nervous about something I've never done before, but some kind souls have assured me it came out ok (a couple better than that). I figured the least I could do was collect my preliminary notes, which are here.

In the meantime, I filled out my DownBeat Critics Poll ballot (all 49 sections), and collected my notes and ruminations here. DownBeat doesn't publish individual voter ballots, so without this cross reference you'll never know how little my single ballot counts for. I will note that I spent more time this year than I've done in a while, but still far less work than I put into the first polls I was invited for.

One consequence of the DownBeat exercise is that I went on a blues kick this week. They had nominated 33 blues albums from April 2022 through March 2023, and I had heard 7 of them (21.2%, which without checking I'd guess is slightly more than usual). I checked out another 16 of them this week, which gets to 69.6%. I found two A- records there (which is two more than I had, so it wipes out my ballot), and two B+(***). Unclear whether I'll search out more, as returns have been diminishing.

I also checked out the Shirley Scott Queen Talk album, which, figuring it belongs with her other queen-sized set, I scooped out of next week's stash to include here.

On Allen Lowe, auteur of this week's two best albums (well, except for Queen Talk), see Phil Overeem's interview, I Will Not Stop Til They Bury Me. Phil also recommended Lowe's book Letter to Esperanza, so I ordered a copy.

For what it's worth, I cobbled another Speaking of Which together over my abbreviated weekend. The week will mostly be remembered for two incidents of mass murder in Texas, only one of which involved guns, and proof that you don't need to gun to murder some one on a New York City subway. (Probably an eye-opener for Trump, who always assumed he'd need a gun when he fulfilled his destiny of shooting someone down on Fifth Avenue.)

Of course, the insult added to this week's injuries is the insistence of Abbott and Cruz in Texas that guns aren't the problem, but mental illness is, and their resolve to budget more money to fix that problem. The one thing you can be sure of is that neither will lift a finger to spend a penny more on mental health. It's not just that they're cruel bastards who don't care a whit for crazy people (even the ones who they depend on for votes). Deep down, they probably understand that more crazy people with guns just helps sell more guns to people crazy enough to buy them.

I no doubt could have written more, but took Saturday off to cook a nice dinner.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Alaska & Steel Tipped Dove: The Structural Dynamics of Flow (2023, Fused Arrow): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Richard X Bennett & Matt Parker: Parker Plays X (2021 [2023], BYNK): [cd]: B+(***) [05-13]
  • Tim Berne/Hank Roberts/Aurora Nealand: Oceans And (2022 [2023] Intakt): [sp]: B
  • Eric Bibb: Ridin' (2023, Stony Plain): [sp]: B+(***)
  • David Binney: Tomorrow's Journey (2022, Ghost Note): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Rory Block: Ain't Nobody Worried: Celebrating Great Women of Song (2022, Stony Plain): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Blue Moon Marquee: Scream, Holler & Howl (2021 [2022], Ilda): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Joe Bonamassa: Tales of Time (2023, J&R Adventures): [sp]: B-
  • Theo Croker: Live in Paris (2021 [2022], Masterworks, EP): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Cydnee With a C: Confessions of a Fangirl (2023, Bread & Butter, EP): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Kahil El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble: Spirit Gatherer: Tribute to Don Cherry (2022 [2023], Spiritmuse): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Ruthie Foster: Healing Time (2022, Blue Corn Music): [sp]: B
  • Ice Spice: Like . . ? (2023, 10K Projects/Capitol, EP) **
  • Jeremiah Johnson: Hi-Fi Drive By (2022, Ruf): [sp]: B
  • Sass Jordan: Bitches Blues (2022, Stony Plain): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Aynsley Lister: Along for the Ride (2022, Straight Talkin'): [sp]: B
  • London Brew: London Brew (2020 [2023], Concord, 2CD): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Allen Lowe and the Constant Sorrow Orchestra: America: The Rough Cut (2014-22 [2023], ESP-Disk): [cd]: A-
  • Allen Lowe and the Constant Sorrow Orchestra: In the Dark (2022 [2023], ESP-Disk, 3CD): [cd]: A-
  • Taj Mahal: Savoy (2023, Stony Plain): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Denman Maroney/Scott Walton/Denis Fournier: O KOΣMOΣ META (2021 [2022], RogueArt): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Luiz Millan: Brazilian Match (2022 [2023], Jazz Station): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Mud Morganfield: Portrait (2022, Delmark): [sp]: A-
  • Van Morrison: Moving on Skiffle (2023, Exile/Virgin, 2CD): [sp]: B
  • John Primer: Teardrops for Magic Slim: Live at Rosa's Lounge (2022 [2023], Blues House): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Bruno Rĺberg: Solo Bass: Look Inside (2022 [2023], Orbis Music): [cd]: B+(*) [05-19]
  • Angela Strehli: Ace of Blues (2022, Antone's/New West): [sp]: A-
  • Joanne Shaw Taylor: Nobody\'s Fool (2022, Keeping the Blues Alive): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Billy Valentine: Billy Valentine and the Universal Truth (2020-22 [2023], Acid Jazz/Flying Dutchman): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Ally Venable: Real Gone (2023, Ruf): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Joe Louis Walker: Weight of the World (2023, Forty Below): [sp]: B
  • Doug Wamble: Blues in the Present Tense (2022, Halcyonic): [sp]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Ray Charles: Live in Stockholm 1972 (1972 [2022], Tangerine): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis With Shirley Scott: Cookin' With Jaws and the Queen: The Legendary Prestige Albums (1958 [2023], Craft): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Shirley Scott: Queen Talk: Live at the Left Bank (1972 [2023], Reel to Real): [sp]: A-

Old music:

  • Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis: The Eddie "Lockjaw" Cookbook (1958, Prestige): [sp]: B
  • Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis: The Eddie "Lockjaw" Cookbook Vol. 2 (1958 [1959], Prestige): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis With Shirley Scott: The Eddie "Lockjaw" Cookbook, Volume 3 (1958 [1961], Prestige): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis With Shirley Scott: Smokin' (1958 [1963], Prestige): [sp]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Devin Gray: Most Definitely (Rataplan) [06-09]
  • Joëlle Léandre/Craig Taborn/Mat Maneri: hEARoes (RogueArt) [05-07]
  • Matt Mitchell: Oblong Aplomb (Out of Your Head) [04-14]

Sunday, May 07, 2023

Speaking of Which

Blog link.

Got a late start, and really not feeling it this week. Seems like plenty of links, but not a lot of commentary.


Top story threads:

Trump: I got some flak for not taking the E. Jean Carroll lawsuit seriously enough last week, and wound up dropping a couple parenthetical remarks. The case will presumably be wrapped up and given to the jury early next week, so we'll see. One thing I missed was that while Trump cannot be prosecuted for rape (statute of limitations), he can be sued for assault, so this is not just a defamation case. Also, his own deposition makes him look guilty as hell. I'm particularly bothered by the "she's not my type" defense. In order for that to be a thing, he has to have a pretty large population to choose from, and do so with extreme shallowness. (Ok, maybe Trump does have a type, but think about what that says about him.)

Republicans:

More Fox fallout:

Courts:

Slow civil war: Section name derives from Jeff Sharlet's book (see below). Mostly assorted right-wing wackos taking pot shots at whoever, but it doesn't seem to be random circumstance.

Economy:

Ukraine War: Jeffrey St Clair (see below) offers a long quote from an El Pais interview with Lula da Silva, where the key point is: "This war should never have started. It started because there is no longer any capacity for dialogue among world leaders." He didn't single out the US in this regard -- the country he condemned was Russia, which "has no right to invade Ukraine" -- but by focusing on the question of how to prevent wars from starting, the US is most clearly negligent. The US has lost its capacity to act as an advocate for peace because US foreign policy has been captured by the merchants and architects of war.

World:

  • Connor Echols: [05-03] NATO foray into Asia risks driving China and Russia closer together: So, NATO's opening a "liaison office" in Tokyo -- something they've also done in Ukraine, Georgia, Kuwait, and Moldova. As I've noted many times, the prime mission of NATO over the last 10-20 years has been to promote arms sales (mostly US but also European), often by provoking threats. The war in Ukraine would seem to validate their prophecies -- and indeed has been a boon for arms sales, with more to come in Sweden and Finland. A similar US sales pitch has been racking up big sales in Taiwan, so it's not so surprising that European arms makers want a piece of the action, and NATO gives them a calling card. While China is less likely to be bullied into a war, the risks are even greater.

  • Ben Freeman: [05-01] 'Acceptable' versus 'unacceptable' foreign meddling in US affairs: "It all seems to depend on whether the offending nation is an ally or adversary." And (talk about elephants in the room) not even a word here about Israel.

  • Frank Giustra: [05-03] De-dollarization: Not a matter of it, but when. The US has been able to run trade deficits for fifty years because the world has uses for dollars beyond buying American-made goods. (One, of course, is buying American assets, including companies.) But when the US levies sanctions, it motivates others to find alternatives to the dollar, to make themselves less dependent on the US. This has been tempting for a long time, but war with Russia and efforts to intimidate China are quickening the pace.

  • Daniel Larison: [05-05] US military driving and exacerbating violence in Somalia: "Americans have been intervening there for decades. Isn't it past time to ask whether we are the problem?"

  • Blaise Malley: [05-02] In Washington, China is a four-letter word and the excuse for everything: "Lawmakers have introduced nearly 275 measures this session, while bureaucrats are busy using the CCP to justify ballooning budgets."

  • Kiyoshi Sugawa: [05-02] Should Japan defend Taiwan?: Biden says the US will defend Taiwan. It is rare, at least since WWII, for the US to enter into a war without enlisting support of its nominal allies, so this prospect is something every US ally should think long and hard about. Still, it's striking how easily the US has recruited former occupiers into its "coalition of the willing": for Iraq, not only the the UK sign up, but so did Mongolia. Japan occupied Taiwan from 1895-1945, a time that few there remember fondly.


Other stories:

William Hartung/Ben Freeman: [05-06] This is not your grandparents' military industrial complex: "Arsenals of influence, the consolidation of contractors, the blob -- all would make Eisenhower blink with unrecognition."

Ellen Ioanes: [05-06] Serbia's populist president pledges "disarmament" after mass shootings: File this under "it can't happen here." Note that Serbia is tied for the third-highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world (39.1 firearms per 100 residents; US rate is 117.5), but mass shootings are "quite rare" (vs. more than 1 per day in the US). In the two events, a 13-year-old boy killed nine people at a Belgrade-area elementary school, and a day later a 20-year-old killed eight people and wounded 14.

Umair Irfan: [05-01] Smaller, cheaper, safer: The next generation of nuclear power, explained. Still, those terms are only relative, and the old generation of nuclear power plants, which are nearing the end of their planned lifetimes, have set a pretty low bar. I can imagine a scenario where nuclear complements other non-carbon sources of energy, but first you have to solve two problems that are more political than technical: figure out what to do with the waste, and end the linkages between nuclear power and bombs, by disposing of the latter. Of course, you'll still have economic questions: how cost-effective nuclear power is compared to alternatives that are still compatible with climate goals. Even then, perhaps on some level nuclear power is still just too creepy.

Benjamin Keys: [05-07] Your homeowners' insurance bill is the canary in the climate coal mine. As climate disasters mount, their cost is going to be average out over everyone, with the result that insurance will become increasingly unaffordable. For most people, this will happen before actual disasters happen, which will make it hard to see and understand. But in the long run, I think this will fundamentally change the way government has to work.

Tyler Koteskey: [05-04] 'Mission Accomplished' was a massive fail -- but it was just the beginning.

Keren Landman: [05-05] What the ending of the WHO's Covid emergency does (and doesn't) change: "For Americans, the coming [May 11] end of the US public health emergency will have much bigger impacts."

Bruce E Levine: [05-05] Once radical critiques of psychiatry are now mainstream, so what remains taboo?.

Eric Levitz: [05-03] The Biden administration just declared the death of neoliberalism.

Nicole Narea/Li Zhou: [05-05] How New York City failed Jordan Neely: A black, unhoused person, choked to death on a New York subway, by "a white 24-year-old former Marine," who hasn't been named, much less arrested. Also:

Elizabeth Nelson: [05-02] The Ed Sheeran lawsuit is a threat to Western civilization. Really.

Jeffrey St Clair: [05-05] Roaming Charges: How White Men Fight.

Emily Stewart: [05-04] What the lottery sells -- and who pays. I know a guy who signs his emails with: "lottery (n.): a tax on stupidity." My reaction was that it's more like a tax on hopelessness, or maybe just on hope, for the set of people who realize they'll never have a chance to make qualitatively more than they have, but are willing to give up a little to gain a rare chance of change. Still, I'm not one of them. I've never bought a ticket or a scratch card of whatever form they take -- even before I got taken to task for using the "if I won the lottery" rhetorical foil (my cousin pointed out that if I did, I'd never be able to tell who my real friends are, which she insisted would be a worse problem than the supposed gain). Still, I'm glad that the state runs the racket, instead of leaving it to organized crime. Same is true for all other forms of gambling. Beware all efforts to privatize them.

Aric Toler/Robin Stein/Glenn Thrush/Riley Mellen/Ishaan Jhaveri: [05-06] War, Weapons and Conspiracy Theories: Inside Airman Teixeira's Online World: "A review of more than 9,500 messages obtained by The New York Times offers important clues about the mind-set of a young airman implicated in a vast leak of government secrets."

Thursday, May 04, 2023

Daily Log

Need to plan a menu for Saturday Night (theme Moroccan):

Dishes:

  • Tagine of Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives (R-93)
  • Gluten-free orzo (cook, then add to chicken sauce, serve under chicken and olives).
  • Mashed eggplant and tomato salad (zaalouk) (R-42)
  • Carrot salad with cumin and garlic (R-47)
  • Orange, olive and onion salad (R-48)
  • Key Lime Pie (ATB-386)
  • Fruit Salad With Honey and Orange Blossom Water (R-126)

Shopping list:

  • chicken
  • onions: 2
  • onions, red: 1
  • garlic: 2
  • eggplant: 1.5 lbs
  • carrots: 5 (1.25 lbs)
  • lemon: 3
  • limes: 4
  • oranges: 5
  • mixed fruit: 1.5 lbs. (peaches, nectarines, apricots, bananas, plums, grapes, apples, pears, strawberries, mangoes, melon, pineapple, dates)
  • cilantro: 2
  • parsley, flat-leaf: 2
  • mint leaves
  • olives, green (?)
  • olives, black (?)
  • argan oil?
  • sweetened condensed milk: 14 oz
  • heavy cream

Pantry list:

  • pecan pie crust
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • preserved lemons
  • honey
  • tomatoes, diced
  • saffron
  • ginger, ground
  • paprika
  • salt
  • black pepper

Monday, May 01, 2023

Music Week

Expanded blog post, May archive (in progress).

Tweet: Music Week: 39 albums, 5 A-list,

Music: Current count 40117 [40078] rated (+39), 48 [49] unrated (-1: 20 new, 28 old).

I wrote and posted two big pieces last week. One was the usual news roundup, Speaking of Which, on Sunday. Most of the links are on various demented Republicans (like "All of Ron DeSantis's Crimes Against Good Etiquette") and their nefarious schemes (like "Why Republicans Hate It When Poor People Have Food to Eat"), but I also added a section on Biden given his campaign announcement ("It's me or the abyss" is about right). The subject I wrote more about is foreign policy, where Biden leaves a lot to be desired.

One piece I cited without comment was Ethan Iverson's The End of the Music Business. I figured it might be something I'd want to circle back around to, but for now: the music business hasn't ended; it's just changing, and like most businesses that's been bad for workers. However, even if it does end, music will survive, because it meets needs that don't have to be monetized. That may be hard to grasp in a world that tries to reduce everything to money, but it could also be an example for moving past such alienation.

The other piece was my second Book Roundup in a year (last was October 22, 2022, and before that May 1, 2022. I spend a lot of time scrounging around virtual bookstores, looking for nonfiction titles of interest. I publish something when I come up with 40 blurbs, by which time I've accumulated a bunch of secondary and miscellaneous lists, which get flushed out at the same time.

I count this as important work, because it gives me a fairly good sense of what people know and think. I also find it calming. For most of my life I used to regularly retreat into bookstores, studiously examining the shelves, especially for new books -- that's probably why libraries had less allure -- which I'd pick up, look over, poke my nose into, it being just as interesting to know what I was missing as what I was reading. I didn't break that habit until Borders was shut down, and Barnes & Noble turned into a toy store/café.

Since posting, I've ordered two books from the list: Myth America, ed. by Kevin Kruse & Julian Zelizer; and A Climate Vocabulary for the Future, by Herg Simmens (buried in the long list of climate books under Greta Thunberg). The former complements my recent/current reading in American history. The latter seems like it might be useful for deciding how to write about the climate crisis.


A few weeks ago, Rick Mitchell asked me to participate in a podcast for the Jazz Journalists Association. The topic was to be jazz polls. Of late, I've been running the Francis Davis Jazz Poll, and in vote in a couple others (DownBeat, El Intruso). The original idea was to pair me with Frank Alkyer (DownBeat editor). After a no-show, Geoffrey Himes agreed to join in. We talked last week, and they posted the Jazz Buzz podcast today. I've never done anything like that, and had little sense of how well it went. I'll revisit it later, and try to write some more: no doubt I'll want to clarify a few points. If you have any comments, questions, or just wish to express outrage, please write me through the usual channels. (Note that there is a "Contact" button in the navigation bar.)

Last week, I also got my invite to vote in DownBeat's Critics Poll, so I'll take a look at that later in the week. I should also point out that the Jazz Journalists Association's 2023 Awards nominees have been announced, broken down to Performance & Recordings and Journalism & Media. I've never been a member of JJA, so I have no involvement there, and had to pass when their poll came up in the podcast. As I recall, they do an awards schmooze fest, which makes them more like the Grammys, minus the TV contract glitz. The nominee lists strike me as short (3-6 per category, just 4 for new albums) and pretty mainstream. I couldn't find any reference lists for who has won in the past, even in the "lifetime achievement" categories (this year's musicians are George Coleman, Keith Jarrett, Charles Lloyd, and Wadada Leo Smith, so presumably they hadn't won before).

By the way, while poking around the JJA site, I was sad to see that Ken Franckling died on March 24. He's been a long-time contributor to our poll, and his Jazz Notes blog has always been a delight.

Records this week are almost all jazz (Brit Taylor the exception). I tried to play down my queue, but other than that my prospecting system had a lot more jazz prioritized than anything else, and with all the writing, I just went for whatever was easiest to find.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Michael Blake: Dance of the Mystic Bliss (2020 [2023], P&M): [cd]: B+(*) [05-26]
  • George Coleman: Live at Smalls Jazz Club (2022 [2023], Cellar): [cd]: A- [05-19]
  • Day & Taxi: Live in Baden (2021 [2023], Clean Feed): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Rachel Eckroth: One (2022 [2023], Blackbird Sessions): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Wayne Escoffery: Like Minds (2022 [2023], Smoke Sessions): [sp]: B-
  • Everything but the Girl: Fuse (2023, Buzzin' Fly/Virgin): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Frank Gratkowski/Simon Nabatov: Tender Mercies (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Lauren Henderson: Conjuring (2023, Brontosaurus): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Marc Jordan: Waiting for the Sun to Rise (2023, Linus Entertainment): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Jason Keiser: Shaw's Groove (2022 [2023], OA2): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Le Boeuf Brothers: Hush (2021 [2023], Soundspore): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Asbjřrn Lerheim/Roger Arntzen/Michiyo Yagi/Tamaya Honda: Chrome Hill Duo Meets Dojo: Live at Aketa No Mise (2020 [2023], Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Luis Lopes Abyss Mirrors: Echoisms (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Brandon Lopez Trio: Matanzas (2023, Relative Pitch): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Bill Mays: Autumn Serenade (2023, Sunnyside): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Steve Millhouse: The Unwinding (2022 [2023], SteepleChase): [sp]: B(***)
  • Move: The City (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Natural Information Society: Since Time Is Gravity (2021 [2023], Aguirre/Eremite): [sp]: A-
  • Aruán Ortiz Trio: Serranias: Sketchbook for Piano Trio (2022 [2023], Intakt): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Ed Partyka Jazz Orchestra: Hold Your Fire (2022 [2023], Neuklang): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Ivo Perelman/Elliott Sharp: Artificial Intelligence (2022 [2023], Mahakala Music): [sp]: A-
  • Ivo Perelman/Dave Burrell/Bobby Kapp: Trichotomy (2021 [2023], Mahakala Music): [sp]: A-
  • Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp/Jeff Cosgrove: Live in Carrboro (2017 [2023], Soul City Sounds): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Ivo Perelman/Ray Anderson/Joe Morris/Reggie Nicholson: Molten Gold (2022 [2023], Fundacja Sluchaj): [dl]: A-
  • John Pizzarelli: Stage & Screen (2021 [2023], Palmetto): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Eric Reed: Black, Brown, and Blue (2022 [2023], Smoke Sessions): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Mike Richmond: Turn Out the Stars (2023, SteepleChase): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Diego Rivera: Love & Peace (2023, Posi-Tone): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Roots Magic Sextet: Long Old Road: Retold Pasts and Present Day Musings (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Dan Rosenboom: Polarity (2022 [2023], Orenda): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Steve Smith and Vital Information: Time Flies (2022 [2023], Wounded Bird, 2CD): [cd]: B+(**) [05-05]
  • Bobo Stenson Trio: Sphere (2022 [2023], ECM): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Brit Taylor: Kentucky Blue (2023, Cut a Shine): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Erik Truffaz: Rollin' (2023, Blue Note): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Alex Weitz: Rule of Thirds (2022 [2023], Outside In Music): [sp]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Les DeMerle Sound 67: Once in a Lifetime (1967 [2023], Origin): [cd]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society: Mandatory Reality (2017 [2019], Eremite, 2CD): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Day & Taxi: Less and More (1997 [1999], Unit): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Khan Jamal Creative Arts Ensemble: Drum Dance to the Motherland (1972 [2017], Eremite): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Mike Lipskin: Spreadin' Rhythm Around (2002, Buskirk): [sp]: B+(***)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Satoko Fujii: Torrent: Piano Solo (Libra) [06-02]
  • Max Light: Henceforth (SteepleChase) [06-16]
  • Russ Lossing: Alternate Side Parking Music (Aqua Piazza) [07-07]
  • Allen Lowe and the Constant Sorrow Orchestra: America: The Rough Cut (ESP-Disk) [04-28]
  • Allen Lowe and the Constant Sorrow Orchestra: In the Dark (ESP-Disk, 3CD) [04-28]
  • Denman Maroney/Scott Walton/Denis Fournier: O Koσmoσ Meta (RogueArt '22)
  • Naya Bazz [Rez Abbasi/Josh Feinberg]: Charm (Whirlwind) [05-12]
  • Rudy Royston Flatbed Buggy: Day (Greenleaf Music) [05-05]
  • Felipe Salles Interconnections Ensemble: Home Is Here (Tapestry) [05-12]
  • Matthew Shipp/Mark Helias: The New Syntax (RogueArt '22)
  • Alan Sondheim: Galut: Ballads of Wadi-Sabi (ESP-Disk) [04-28]


Apr 2023