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Monday, May 27, 2019

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Here in Wichita it's rained every day for a week with more coming tonight, tomorrow, the day after. We're up to 11.96 inches this month (2nd wettest May ever; annual average is 34 inches). Many rivers in southeastern Kansas have flooded -- my recent trip to Oklahoma was detoured when the Kansas State Turnpike went under water. Wichita used to flood regularly, and my home would surely be under water but for "the big ditch" -- a flood control project built in 1950-59. (See Beccy Tanner: 'Big Ditch Mitch' saved Wichita many times; also, David Guilliams: The Big Ditch: The Wichita-Valley Center Flood Control Project [PDF].) I've been reading up on this, not least because I haven't seen the rivers this high since 1966, when the Ditch spared Wichita (barely) an epochal flood that wiped out the Arkansas River dam in Lamar, CO, and flooded every other town on the river's path into Oklahoma and Arkansas. Reading Guilliams' history reminds me that we had politicians in the 1940s who were as short-sighted as the ones we have today, but I'll always be thankful they got outvoted. That Ditch was the best investment Wichita ever made. Without it I wouldn't be able to get around to this week's other stories.


Some scattered links this week:

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Daily Log

From Greg Tate, on Facebook, comment reply to Allen Lowe question about Gary Davis:

A friend who speaks six languages fluently (including Arabic and Polish) told that in her mind its all one language. The Black American creative tradition is by necessity that of the auto-didact but on a deeper level its also one of people who couldn't afford to only be great at one thing or the luxury of compartmentalizing the world. The major innovators seem to be more inter-dimensional than the rest of us in mind body and spirit--You get the sense that All of Life is one language to them. Which is to say they are more West African than Cartesian how they integrate the world outside with the world inside. Nothing exemplifies this more to me than Davis saying he thought he heard a brass band the first time he heard a guitar. Which suggests his artistic high bar when he started playing wasn't mere competency but to make people feel like they too were experiencing a marching band projecting out of a guitar. Methinks we do a disservice to these innovative artists when we think they were only trying to work out mechanics--they were acquiring complex technique to reproduce MAGIC.

Susan Brown posted this on Facebook, crediting Gary Moss. It may be the single most horrific thing I've read all year:

i wish everyone would read this

94 yr old Kissinger takes on Trump

Recently, Henry Kissinger did an interview and said vary amazing things regarding President Trump. He starts with: "Donald Trump is a phenomenon that foreign countries haven't seen before"! The former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gives us a new understanding of President Donald Trump's foreign policy and predicts its success:

"Liberals and all those who favor (Hillary) Clinton will never admit it. They will never admit that he is the one true leader. The man is doing changes like never before and does all of it for the sake of this nation's people. After eight years of tyranny, we finally see a difference."

Kissinger knows it and he continues with:

."Every country now has to consider two things: One, their perception that the previous president, or the outgoing president, basically withdrew America from international politics, so that they had to make their own assessments of their necessities.

And secondly, that there is a new president who's asking a lot of unfamiliar questions. And because of the combination of the partial vacuum and the new questions, one could imagine that something remarkable and new emerges out of it.

Then Kissinger puts it bluntly:

"Trump puts America and its people first. This is why people love him and this is why he will remain in charge for so long. There is not a single thing wrong with him and people need to open their eyes." When he boasts that he has a "bigger red button" than Kim Jung Un does, he so transcends the mealy-mouthed rhetoric of the past, thereby forcing a new recognition of American power.

Kissinger once wrote:

"The weak grow strong by effrontery - The strong grow weak through inhibition!" No sentence better captures the U.S.-North Korea relationship.

Trump is discarding the inhibitions and calling the bluff on North Korea's effrontery: His point is that the contrast of American retreat under Obama and its new assertion of power under Trump creates a new dynamic that every one of our allies and of our enemies must consider.

Our allies grew complacent with Obama's passivity and now are fearful due to Trump's activism. And they must balance the two in developing their policies:

They realize that the old assumptions, catalyzed by Bush 43's preoccupation with Iraq and Obama's refusal to lead are obsolete. So, Trump is forcing a new calculus with a new power behind American interests. Those - here and abroad - who rode the old apple cart worry about its being toppled.

But, as Kissinger so boldly stated: "Trump is the one true leader in world affairs and he is forcing policy changes that put America first!"

This is the most accurate statement of what the American Citizens who live outside of the swamp want and expect from their government.

I like the list of 13 things that I, as a senior American citizen, want. Trump is at least talking about issues that most Americans are concerned about.

My mantra about Trump is this: Truthfully, We are in agreement with most of what he says. We are getting older and our tickers aren't what they used to be, but what matters is that he covers most of the 13 things we as seniors want, at least I do for sure

  1. Hillary: held accountable for her previous wrongs!
  2. Put "GOD" back in America!
  3. Borders: Closed or tightly guarded!
  4. Congress: On the same retirement & healthcare plans as everybody else
  5. Congress: Obey its own laws NOW!
  6. Language: English!
  7. Culture: Constitution and the Bill of Rights!
  8. Drug-Free: Mandatory Drug Screening before & during Welfare!
  9. Freebies: NONE to Non-Citizens
  10. Budget: Balanced
  11. Foreign Countries: Stop giving them our money! Charge them for our help! We need it here.
  12. Term limits for congress
  13. "RESPECT OUR MILITARY AND OUR FLAG!" And our law enforcement. DRAIN THE SWAMP!

Further down, Susan offered this meme:

First Lady Melania Trump has sent out a request for prayers for our president. Let us be a shield for him as he fights for us.

Further down, she links to an AP News piece on Alabama's "near-total abortion ban," presumably favorably. But a commenter picked up another tweet, from Stephanie Wittels Wachs, which is on target:

Make no mistake - a state that criminalizes abortion but ranks 50th in public education doesn't give a shit about children.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, May archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31518 [31498] rated (+20), 252 [249] unrated (+3).

Rated count well down this week. Wednesday through Friday got totally wiped out, starting with a dental appointment, then shopping for dinner on Friday, then marathon cooking. Zhanna Pataki and I made a blini feast. I found a Russian grocery store in Tulsa the previous week, and picked up a pound of salmon caviar ("Alaskan rubies") and three whole schmaltz herring. The latter went, one each, into sour cream sauce, mustard sauce, and Estonian potato salad (with golden beets, apple, and ham (actually, Canadian bacon). Other side salads: poached cod with horseradish sauce, cucumbers in sour cream, green bean and walnut, carrot and garlic. I got a couple of salmon filets and salted them. I made two loaves of rye bread (only disappointment: came out dense and dry, probably because the dough was, or maybe I just don't know how to properly knead bread; anyway, the expensive Breville food processor wasn't up to the task). For dessert, I made a light sponge cake, and topped it with strawberries and whipped cream (recipe called for smetana, but I didn't allow myself enough time to make my own -- probably should have bought some in Tulsa, when I had the chance). I just now realized that I had brought a jar of eggplant caviar back from Tulsa but failed to serve it. Dinner was spectacular, and exhausting.

A couple weeks ago I learned that Ani DiFranco has written a memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream. She grew up in Buffalo, and was close to my cousin's family there, so I have some kind of personal interest in her story, and I've been aware of her musical career from near the beginning. Then last week I noticed her No Walls: Mixtape on Napster, so delved a bit deeper. I read what I could from Google's excerpt, while listening to Mixtape -- unplugged remakes of 25+ years of remarkable songs -- and a couple other items I had missed that I found on her Bandcamp. Stopped short of the bootlegs, although one of my favorites (and one of the best places to start with her) is the live Living in Clip. I was especially pleased that after panning most of her recent albums with Todd Sickafoose I enjoyed Red Letter Year so much. I wrote about her in [The New] Rolling Stone Album Guide. A current grade list is here.

Robert Christgau reviewed Epic Beard Men this week, along with two records by Quelle Chris that I had already reviewed. I gave Guns another spin, enjoyed it, but left my grade at B+(***). For whatever it's worth, I've graded A- all four of Strut's Nigeria 70 compilations. I couldn't begin to rank them, other than to note that I have the CDs to the first, and played one out of my travel case while cooking last week. I doubt any are as good as the best King Sunny Adé albums, or the second edition of The Rough Guide to Highlife, but the new one hits the exact same pleasure centers, and that was good enough for me.

The Ray Charles comp was the one I skipped when reviewing his Atlantics last week. It's the one you'd most likely buy if you're reluctant to get the entire 3-CD box (The Birth of Soul). Not sure why I didn't grade it as high as the box or two of the source albums, other than that I didn't give it a lot of time. I'm still bothered that we don't have the ABC albums available for streaming. And I will note that one problem with virtually every "greatest hit" collection from that period is the mandatory inclusion of two hideous Beatles covers. Compilers don't always pick the best songs, so that may be what's slightly off about the Rhino Atlantic Best Of.

Best jazz album of the week was the first 2019 Clean Feed release I've found on Napster. They've sometimes been hard to search out, but until this year all of their releases have been available for streaming, which lately has saved me the hassle of downloading. Not everything that's come out is available yet, but I'm glad to get what I can. I'll try to catch up in coming weeks. (There are a couple more on this week's list, as well as one where the musician sent me the CD -- thanks for that favor.)


New records reviewed this week:

  • Charlie Apicella & Iron City: Groove Machine (2018 [2019], OA2): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Camp Cope: How to Socialise & Make Friends (2018, Run for Cover): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ani DiFranco: No Walls: Mixtape (2019, Righteous Babe): [r]: A-
  • Epic Beard Men: Season 1 (2018, Strange Famous): [r]: B+(**)
  • Epic Beard Men: This Was Supposed to Be Fun (2019, Strange Famous): [r]: A-
  • The Fictive Five: Anything Is Possible (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
  • John Hart: Crop Circles (2017 [2019], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Fred Hersch & the WDR Big Band: Begin Again (2019, Palmetto): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Jørgen Mathisen's Instant Light: Mayhall's Object (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: A-
  • The Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra: Along for the Ride (2018 [2019], Summit): [cd]: B
  • Yoko Miwa Trio: Keep Talkin' (2019, Ocean Blue Tear Music): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Priests: The Seduction of Kansas (2019, Sister Polygon): [r]: B+(***)
  • Scheen Jazzorkester & Thomas Johansson: «As We See It . . . » (2019, Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(***)
  • The Selva: Canicula Rosa (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Senyawa: Sujud (2018, Sublime Frequencies): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Marcus Shelby Orchestra: Transitions (2017 [2019], MSO): [cd]:B+(*)
  • Rodney Whitaker: Common Ground: The Music of Gregg Hill (2017 [2019], Origin): [cd]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk & Juju 1973-1987 (1973-87 [2019], Strut): [bc]: A-

Old music:

  • Ray Charles: The Best of Ray Charles: The Atlantic Years (1951-59 [1994], Rhino): [r]: A-
  • Ani DiFranco: Red Letter Year (2008, Righteous Babe): [bc]: A-
  • Ani DiFranco: Binary (2017, Righteous Babe): [r]: B+(*)
  • Larry Ochs: The Fictive Five (2015, Tzadik): [bc]: B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Luke Gillespie: Moving Mists (Patois)
  • Ryan Keberle & Catharsis: The Hope I Hold (Greenleaf Music): June 28
  • Doug MacDonald: Califournia Quartet (self-released)
  • Matt Mitchell: Phalanx Ambassadors (Pi)
  • Samo Salamon & Freequestra: Free Sessions, Vol. 2: Freequestra (Sazas/Klopotec)
  • Samo Salamon/Szilárd Mezei/Jaka Berger: Swirling Blind Unstilled (Klopotec)
  • The Dave Wilson Quartet: One Night at Chris' (self-released): May 27

Weekend Roundup

Ran a day late on this one, partly because I went long on the intro, but also because I found so many links in my early trawl through the usual sources I wasn't able to finish my rounds, then found even more when I tried to wrap up. I'm sure it's always the case that an extra day or two to let the words settle and go back and restructure would be useful, but I've rarely felt that more than this week.


Abortion became a much hotter political issue last week, with the passage and signing of a law in Alabama which criminalizes abortion in all cases except when it is necessary to save the life of the woman, with doctors risking prison terms of up to 99 years if their call on life-saving is disputed. Much focus on this particular law centers on the lack of any exclusion for rape and incest, which most people agree would be reasonable grounds for abortion. (As Phil Freeman tweeted: "Your first mistake was assuming old white men in Alabama were against rape and incest.") But the Alabama law is just one of many state laws Republicans have been pushing lately, all aimed at relitigating Roe v. Wade in the Trump-packed Supreme Court. (E.g., The "heartbeat" bills that could ban almost all abortions, passed in four states including Ohio and Georgia, and coming soon in Missouri; still more draconian bills are in the works, such as A Texas bill would allow the death penalty for patients who get abortions.)

I'll start this off by quoting from a Facebook post by a relative of mine in Arkansas, Marianne Cowan Pyeatt, offering an unvarnished glimpse of what anti-abortion Republicans are telling themselves:

All of a sudden we are supposed to believe that millions and millions of aborted babies are the result of rape and not just a lack of responsibility to use birth control or face the consequences if you can't even be adult enough to take precautions. We all know that the reason they can't make exceptions for rape is because every women would lie and claim to be raped to get an abortion. There are morning after pills for real rape victims or they can give the child away. No one says they have to keep them. And the fact that this is even being debated is because all the people who did very little for decades when they could forget what was going on in those clinics are suddenly facing a world where full-term babies can be murdered at birth. YOU stupid liberals have taken it SO FAR that no decent person can ignore it any longer. And we aren't so stupid as to believe that only abortion of a baby could "save the mother's life" in medical emergencies . . . we know delivery is many, many times faster. At that point, if it dies, at least you tried and the mother is "saved" from her life-threatening condition with no murder involved. I find it hilarious that in insisting on that last frontier of killing babies right up to birth has finally given people the resolve to take a stand and right a wrong.

One thing this shows is that the fight over abortion rights is being fought at the margins, with both sides seeking maximalist positions, although there is nothing symmetrical about the conflict. There is only one fanatical side to this issue: those who, like Marianne here, want to ban all abortions. No one on the opposite side -- and I am about as opposite as anyone gets -- wants to terminate all pregnancies. Rather, we understand that pregnancy is a complicated issue that affects women in many different ways, and that there are some circumstances where some women feel they would be better off with an abortion. We believe that this should be a free and responsible choice, and to make this a real choice for all women requires that we isolate it from the encumbrances of government regulation and economic pressure.

I've long thought that conservatives and libertarians should be strong supporters of abortion rights. Libertarians cherish freedom, and freedom is the ability to make free choices -- among which one of the most important is whether to bear and raise children. Not everyone who wants children is able to have them, but safe abortion at least makes it possible to choose not to have children. As for conservatives, they always stress the responsibilities parenthood infers. It would be perverse if they did not allow those who felt themselves unable to assume the responsibility of raising children the option of not having them. Indeed, in the past have sometimes wanted to impose limits on the fertility of those they deemed unfit to raise children (e.g., the forced sterilization of the eugenics movement). Consequently, the hard turn of Republicans against free access to abortion and birth control has always struck me as bad faith: a political ploy, initially to capture votes of Catholics and Southern Baptists, who had traditionally voted Democratic. I first noticed this in Bob Dole's 1972 Senate campaign, and I never forgave him for politicizing the issue. (He was being challenged by William Roy, a ob/gyn who had occasionally performed abortions, which were legal in Kansas well before Roe v. Wade. Until that time Kansas Democrats were more likely to be anti-abortion than Republicans. Using abortion as a partisan tactic may have started with Nixon's 1972 "silent majority"/"southern strategy." It was especially successful in Missouri. See How abortion became a partisan issue in America.)

Abortion rights are desirable if there are any circumstances where abortion is a reasonable choice. Most people recognize rape and incest as valid reasons, as well as the health of the woman and/or the fetus. Beyond that there arise lots of possible economic and psychological concerns, which can only really be answered by the woman (with the advice of anyone she chooses to consult). We generally, if not always consistently, recognize that our freedom is rooted in a right to privacy. Since a decision to terminate has no broader repercussions, there is no good reason for the government to get involved. (One might argue that a decision not to terminate might concern the state, in that it would wind up paying for the child's education and health care, but no one who supports abortion rights is seeking that sort of oversight. China's "one child" policy is an example, but no one here is arguing for the state to enforce such a thing.)

Regardless of how cynical Republican leaders were when they jumped on the anti-abortion bandwagon, they learned to love it because it dovetailed with the prejudices and fears they exploited (Jason Stanley has a handy list, in his recent book, How Fascism Works), while doing little to detract from their main objective: making the rich richer, and building a political machine to keep the riches coming. (Thomas Frank, in his 2004 book What's the Matter With Kansas?, tried to expose their two-faced cynicism, but he wound up only agitating the anti-abortion mobsters into demanding more results for their votes.) Marianne's post is full of such prejudices, even while she tries to paper over others. But while the first line refers to the Alabama law, she'd rather turn the tables by accusing "stupid liberals" of wanting to kill babies the instant before birth. That would be a symmetrically opposite point of view, but even if legal it's not a real something anyone would do.

Some links on the Alabama law and the assault on abortion rights:


Some scattered links this week:

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Daily Log

Disconnected red speaker posts at 4:06 PM, then turned amplifier back on.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, May archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31498 [31469] rated (+29), 249 [248] unrated (+1).

Weird how these weekly totals keep landing on 29 (6th time so far this year). Should have been less, given that I drove to the Tulsa area on Wednesday, returning Friday evening. Took my travel cases for the car, nothing remotely new in them. Packed the Chromebook, but inadvertently left it at home. Supposedly I can check email and web on phone, plus a million apps including Napster, but I've never got the hang of that. My second cousin down there swears she does everything with Siri, and I could see how that might be better than trying to type on a clumsy and error-prone touch screen. As a confirmed Apple-phobe, that isn't even an option I'd consider, but I gather Samsung has something along those lines (bixby?). I suppose I should look into that. Meanwhile, I seem to be the only person I know who can go 3-4 days between charges, so I take comfort in that.

I wanted to visit my cousin Duan, second son of my mother's oldest sister, Lola. I hadn't been down there since his older brother, Harold, passed several years ago, and he's up to 92 now. He's lived in/around Bristow as long as I can remember -- we went to visit Aunt Lola every couple months when I was young, and by then Harold and Duan had their families, my second cousins just a couple years younger than I was, so we were fairly close. Harold and Duan were drafted into WWII, and Duan got called back for the Korean War. That seems to have qualified him for living in the Veterans Center in Claremore, where he moved a few months ago. Probably a good place for him at this stage, but not one I'd ever look forward to (not a prospect with my 4F). Can't say as we had good talks, but was good to see him.

I saw live music twice in Oklahoma, although nothing I can recommend. The first was a free concert at the Veterans Center, with a c&w singer who called himself Cowboy, and who toured with a dwarf pony in tow -- something the vets seemed to appreciate. He mostly played Merle Haggard songs (and nothing as obvious as "Okie From Muskogee"; more like "Silver Wings"). One bizarre moment: he had a little girl bring him up a disguise designed to make him look like Elvis Presley, then launched into a medley of three r&b songs ("Lawdy Miss Clawdy," "See See Rider," don't recall the third), suggesting not only that even today black music was only acceptable if dressed up as white. He then played a fourth Elvis song, something late and not black, and didn't bother with the disguise for that. Blackface has gone out of fashion, but whiteface still works in Oklahoma. (There were a few black residents at the Center, but they were a tiny minority, and I don't recall any at the show.)

Second live music experience was attending a recital at the Coweta High School of their various band ensembles, starting with 6th grade. All three of my second-cousin's granddaughters played there, among at least a hundred others. No strings, but lots of flutes and clarinets -- I counted 12 and 18 in the high school band -- a few saxophones, the odd oboe or bassoon, a fair amount of brass, and a pretty substantial investment in percussion (including a featured percussion ensemble). Best was a pair of Cuban tunes. More typical were the Andrew Lloyd Weber medleys. Lasted over two hours, which was exhausting for all (huge crowd, by the way). They made passing reference to also having a jazz ensemble, but nothing I heard fit that bill.

Given that hole in my week, the only way I got to 29 was by streaming oldies. I started by looking for Betty Carter's album with Ray Charles. Napster didn't have it, or for that matter much of anything else after Charles left Atlantic for ABC. I mostly know his Atlantics through the 1991 Rhino 3-CD box, The Birth of Soul (my grade: A), but since the individual albums were available, I worked through them, yielding most of this week's pick hits. That also got me Ray Charles Presents David 'Fathead' Newman, and I followed that up with a few more of Newman's records (especially his early HighNotes). I didn't go very deep there, as I've never found him to be especially remarkable.

After I got back from Oklahoma, I played the new Greg Abate record, so I took a look at his back catalog. He's a mainstream saxophonist, more rooted in bebop than swing, and I especially liked his 2014 album Motif, so I was more hopeful there. I skipped a few things like his samba album, but got a fairly good sense of where he's come from. Several very nice albums, the best being one with Alan Barnes. The next logical step would be to see what else I can find by Barnes. My database lists six of his albums, all Penguin Guide ***(*)-rated, but I haven't heard any of them yet. Surprised I've missed him, although I have rated records he shared but I've filed under other names: Tony Coe, Scott Hamilton, Warren Vaché.

Revisited the latest Coathangers album this week, after Robert Christgau gave it an A-. As I recall, Michael Tatum also likes the album. I gave it a B+(***) on one or two plays back in March, and found that my review didn't need much tweaking. I played his other pick, Priests' The Seduction of Kansas, after the break, so next week for it and Camp Cope's How to Socialise & Make Friends -- both good, high B+ records.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Greg Abate with the Tim Ray Trio: Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ The Z (2019, Whaling City Sound): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Rebecca DuMaine and the Dave Miller Combo: Chez Nous (2018 [2019], Summit): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Peter Jensen & DR Big Band: Stand on Your Feet and Fight: Voices of the Danish West Indies (2018 [2019], ILK): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Ellynne Rey: The Birdsong Project (2019, self-released): [cd]: B
  • Gwilym Simcock: Near and Now (2018 [2019], ACT): [r]: B
  • Aki Takase Japanic: Thema Prima (2018 [2019], BMC): [r]: B+(***)
  • The United States Air Force Band: The Jazz Heritage Series: 2019 Radio Broadcasts (2019, self-released, 4CD): [cd]: C-
  • Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: The Rhythm of Invention (2019, Patois): [cd]: B+(*)

Old music:

  • Greg Abate Quartet: Bop City: Live at Birdland (1991, Candid): [r]: B+(***)
  • Greg Abate: Straight Ahead (1992 [1993], Candid): [r]: B+(**)
  • Greg Abate Quintet: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1995, Candid): [r]: B+(*)
  • Greg Abate Quintet: Bop Lives! (1996, Blue Chip JAzz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Greg Abate: Evolution (2002, 1201 Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Greg Abate/Alan Barnes: Birds of a Feather (2007 [2008], Woodville): [r]: A-
  • Ray Charles: Ray Charles (1953-56 [1957], Atlantic): [r]: A
  • Ray Charles: The Great Ray Charles (1956 [1957], Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ray Charles: The Genius After Hours (1956-57 [1961], Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ray Charles: Yes Indeed! (1952-58 [1958], Atlantic): [r]: A-
  • Ray Charles: What'd I Say (1952-59 [1959], Atlantic): [r]: A
  • Ray Charles: The Genius of Ray Charles (1959, Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ray Charles: Ray Charles in Person (1959 [1960], Atlantic): [r]: B+(*)
  • Ray Charles: Ray Charles Live (1958-59 [1987], Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ray Charles: The Genius Sings the Blues (1952-60 [1961], Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
  • David "Fathead" Newman: Fathead: Ray Charles Presents David 'Fathead' Newman (1958 [1960], Atlantic): [r]: B+(*)
  • David Newman: Fire! At the Village Vanguard (1988 [1989], Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
  • David "Fathead" Newman: Chillin' (1998 [1999], HighNote): [r]: B+(*)
  • David "Fathead" Newman: Keep the Spirits Singing (2000 [2001], HighNote): [r]: B+(*)
  • David "Fathead" Newman: The Gift (2002 [2003], HighNote): [r]: B+(*)
  • David "Fathead" Newman: Song for the New Man (2004, HighNote): [r]: B+(***)


Grade (or other) changes:

  • The Coathangers: The Devil You Know (2019, Suicide Squeeze): [r]: [was B+(***)] A-


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Charlie Apicella & Iron City: Groove Machine (OA2): May 17
  • Fred Hersch & the WDR Big Band: Begin Again (Palmetto): June 7
  • The Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra: Along for the Ride (Summit): June 7
  • Scheen Jazzorkester & Thomas Johansson: As We See It . . . (Clean Feed)
  • Marcus Shelby Orchestra: Transitions (MSO): June 7
  • Rodney Whitaker: Common Ground: The Music of Gregg Hill (Origin): May 17

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Weekend Roundup

I spent much of the week in Oklahoma, visiting my 92-year-old cousin, his two daughters, and various other family. I packed my Chromebook, then forgot it, so went a few days without my usual news sources -- not that anything much changed while I was away. Trying to catch up here, including a few links that seem possibly useful for future reference.

Looks pretty obvious from my "recent reading" sidebar that I'm in a gloomy mood about the viability of democracy in this nation. The odd book out is subtitled "On the Writing Process" -- thought that might inspire me to write about it, and it has made me a bit more self-conscious in my writing. The one I recommend most is Jason Stanley's How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them. I lumped it into a list in my recent Book Reports, but it's well thought out and clear, with a fair smattering of historical examples but more focused on here and now: things you will recognize. I rather wish there was a more generic word than "fascism": one with less specific historical baggage, one that can be used in general discourse without tripping off unnecessary alarms. On the other hand, as a leftist, I've always had a keen nose for generic fascism, so the word suits my purposes just fine. I have, in fact, been using it since the 1970s, which is one reason the modern American conservative movement always seems to coherent and predictable.


Some scattered links this week:


I don't have much to say about Game of Thrones, but I was struck by this ratiocination by Zack Beauchamp: "But it's one thing for Daenerys to act like Bush, and another for her to act like Hitler." He's talking about the indiscriminate fire-bombing of cities full of innocent civilians, but while Bush criminally started wars, lied about his reasoning, rounded up and tortured supposed enemies, disrupted the lives of millions doing irreparable harm, just to show the world that it's more important to fear his "shock and awe" than to respect his self-proclaimed beneficence, and while Hitler did those same things on an even more epic scale, the most comparable historical example of a leader laying waste to entire cities was Harry Truman -- who we generally recall as an exceptionally decent and modest president.

You can say that war does that, even to otherwise decent people. You can say that Hitler and Bush were worse than Truman because they started wars whereas Truman was simply trying to end one he had inherited. (This is not the place to get into how he escalated the Cold War and the Korean War, which in many ways I find more troubling than his "final solution" to WWII.) You can say that Hitler was worse than Bush because his desire for war was more deeply rooted in the uncritical imperialism and racism of the era, which made him even more vindictive and bloodthirsty. But I'd also note that Truman was not above the prejudices of Hitler's era, and that Bush (while less racist than Truman let alone Hitler) was, like all conservatives ever, fully committed to traditional hierarchies of wealth and power, which made it easy for him to run roughshod over all the others.

I have no idea where Daenerys fits among this trio, as she is a fictional character in an imaginary world. Even if she reflects the world of her creators, she does so haphazardly and inconsistently.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, May archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31469 [31440] rated (+29), 248 [255] unrated (-7).

Had a low energy period after posting April Streamnotes last Monday, so I'm not surprised that the rated count dropped. If anything, I'm surprised it's as high as it is, but that was mostly from streaming back catalog of artists recently reviewed.

I speculated last week that Walt Weiskopf's Worldwide is his best yet, but I had missed most of his 1990s albums, so I had to hedge. There are still a couple things I haven't heard, but nothing old came close to the new one -- best of the albums below is probably Siren (1999). When I gave Betty Carter's The Music Never Stops an A- a few weeks back, I noted lots of holes in my database. Scratching my head for something to listen to, I remembered that, and plugged a few of them (while being unable to find others). The new Teodross Avery album also sent me back. No great finds from any of those excursions.

I also tried looking up the album Carter and Ray Charles did together in 1961, but couldn't find it. I noticed then I had an unrated Charles record, and wondered whether I could build a playlist to duplicate it (as opposed to having to dig up my physical copy). Turns out there's damn few of Charles' ABC records on Napster, but I still got 17/20 songs from Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, while the other three were easy to find on YouTube. Not quite an equivalent listening experience, but close enough, I figured (especially given that I recalled hearing nearly everything). I'll do a few more Ray Charles albums next week, starting with the early Atlantics.

On the other hand, this week's two new A- records are ones I hadn't read a thing about before they showed up. After months of second guessing other folks' picks, I feel like I've done my job.

I'll be posting a new XgauSez overnight (link always points to the latest Q&A).


New records reviewed this week:

  • Teodross Avery: After the Rain: A Night for Coltrane (2019, Tompkins Square): [bc]: B+(***)
  • The Campfire Flies: Sparks Like Litle Stars (2019, OverPop Music): [cd]: A-
  • Mark Dresser Seven: Ain't Nothing but a Cyber Coup & You (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Satoko Fujii: Solo Piano: Stone (2018 [2019], Libra): [cd]: B+(**)
  • The Invisible Party: Shumankind (2017 [2018], Chant): [cd]: A-
  • Jon Lipscomb Quartet: Fodder (2016 [2018], self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Rent Romus' Life's Blood Ensemble: Side Three: New Work (2018 [2019], Edgetone): [cd]: B+(***)
  • The Richard Shulman Trio: Waltzing out of Town (2019, RichHeart Music): [cd]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Kinloch Nelson: Partly on Time: Recordings 1968-1970 (1968-70 [2019], Tompkins Square): [bc]: B+(*)

Old music:

  • The Teodross Avery Quartet: In Other Words (1994, GRP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Teodross Avery & the 5th Power: New Day, New Groove (1998 [2001], 5th Power): [r]: B+(*)
  • Teodross Avery: Bridging the Gap: Hop-Hop Jazz (2008, BTG Music): [r]: B-
  • Betty Carter/Ray Bryant: Meet Betty Carter and Ray Bryant (1955-56 [1996], Columbia): [r]: B+(*)
  • Betty Carter: The Modern Sound of Betty Carter (1960, ABC): [r]: B+(*)
  • Betty Carter: Inside Betty Carter (1964-65 [1993], Capitol Jazz): [r]: B+(*)
  • Betty Carter: Finally, Betty Carter (1969 [1975], Roulette): [r]: B+(*)
  • Betty Carter: At the Village Vanguard (1970 [1993], Verve): [r]: B+(**)
  • Betty Carter: The Betty Carter Album (1976 [1988], Verve): [r]: B
  • Ray Charles: Greatest Country and Western Hits (1962-66 [1988], DCC): [r]: A-
  • Jon Lipscomb: Solo Guitar Improvisations Vol. 1 (2016, self-released): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Walt Weiskopf: Night Lights (1995, Double Time): [r]: B+(**)
  • Walt Weiskopf: Song for My Mother (1995 [1996], Criss Cross): [r]: B+(***)
  • Walt Weiskopf: Sleepless Nights (1996 [1998], Criss Cross): [r]: B+(***)
  • Walt Weiskopf: Anytown (1998, Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
  • Walt Weiskopf: Siren (1999, Criss Cross): [r]: B+(***)
  • Walt Weiskopf: Man of Many Colors (2001 [2002], Criss Cross): [r]: B+(***)
  • Walt Weiskopf: Open Road (2014 [2015], Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(***)
  • Walt Weiskopf: Fountain of Youth (2016 [2017], Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Yoko Miwa Trio: Keep Talkin' (Ocean Blue Tear Music)

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Weekend Roundup

No time to work on this, as I spent Sunday trying to break in a new Mexican cookbook. Much of Saturday too, and more of Friday -- not that I had even started then. The one story that dominated the interest of the liberal media was Attorney General William Barr's Senate testimony and his failure to appear before the House. I was tempted to tweet when I looked at Talking Points Memo and they had devoted their entire front page to Barr (aside from one bit on the implosion of Stephen Moore's Fed nomination).

Actually, this should have been a banner week for the media to pick apart Trump's increasingly manic and deranged foreign policy. The US hasn't been taken such a nakedly imperial stance toward Latin America since FDR traded in his cousin's penchant for Gunboat Diplomacy for the sunny promise of a Good Neighbor Policy. I didn't link to anything below on Trump's phone call to Putin, mostly because no one seems to know enough about it to write intelligently. But there were also fairly major stories that could have been reported about Korea, China, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Yemen, and Israel/Palestine (where Netanyahu celebrated his election victory by launching the heaviest assault on Gaza since 2014).


Some scattered links this week:


For the record, tonight's Cinco de Mayo menu, nearly all from The Best Mexican Recipes (America's Test Kitchen):

  • Chicken adobo
  • Braised short ribs with peppers and onion
  • Cheese enchiladas
  • Classic Mexican rice
  • Skillet street corn
  • Restaurant-style black beans
  • Shrimp and lime ceviche
  • Mango, jicama, and orange salad
  • Cherry tomato and avocado salad
  • Key lime pie
  • Duce de leche cheesecake

I generally cut the hot peppers back by 50%. I made the beef and the desserts the night before. Started around noon, aiming at 6pm dinner, but it wound up closer to 7pm, putting a couple guests to work. Used a gluten-free shell for the key lime pie, but made cheesecake crust from scratch, using a box of caramel and sea salt cookies plus some graham crackers. Used store-bought yellow corn tortillas, which were the weak link in the enchiladas (otherwise pretty great). Ten people, so the table was pretty crowded. Kitchen was a colossal mess, but got it straightened out by bedtime.

I've never been a big fan of Mexican food, but figured I should give it a try, especially given access to specialty grocers here. But when I bought my first Mexican cookbook, I found it impenetrable. This one is intentionally simplified, which helped get me started. This cookbook didn't have any desserts, so I scrounged around the web, not finding much that interested me. (I've made flan and rice pudding many times before, but didn't want to do them here. And while I'm partial to cake, tres leches isn't a favorite.) On the other hand, lime figures large in the meal, and I had the pie shell on the shelf. The cheesecake was a second thought, and turned out to be a nice complement.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Daily Log

Replied to a twitter thread. It seems to have started with Dave Weigel, who wrote:

To understand Bidenmentum, you've got to have some of the conversations I had yesterday: Middle-aged women explaining that 2016 showed that voters won't elect a female president, so they've got to be strategic.

Kathleen Geier wrote:

This is so depressing. Countries like Argentina, Chile, Liberia, and Taiwan have elected women presidents. Are those countries less sexist than the US? Just because Hillary Clinton was a weak candidate who ran a lousy campaign doesn't mean another woman can't win.

I responded:

Only reason I can think of why significant numbers of voters reject any woman candidate is that the US has been on a constant war footing since 1948, and that's seeped deep into our pores; ironically, overcompensating hawks like H Clinton scare more voters than they win over.


Wrote this up as a proposal for Mike and Ram:

Been kicking around various ideas, and thought this one might be worth sharing. I've spent a lot of time thinking about a political book, built around the idea that US history breaks neatly into four eras: 1800-1860, 1860-1932, 1932-1980, and 1980-2020. Each begins with a legendary president (Jefferson, Lincoln, FD Roosevelt, Reagan) and ends with a tragically inept one-termer (Buchanan, Hoover, Carter, and Trump). (In this regard, one could also cite 1788-1800, Washington-to-Adams, but that doesn't seem quite long enough to count. Each era was dominated by a single political party, although each had two minor breaks for presidents from the other party -- in three cases two for two terms each (Cleveland and Wilson, Eisenhower and Nixon, Clinton and Obama); in the 1800-1860 period the Whig party managed to win two elections with former generals (Harrison and Taylor), but they both died in office and were succeeded by exceptionally unpopular VPs (Tyler and Fillmore). Within each era, not only was one party dominant, but the other party tended to mimic the dominant party: most obviously, how Eisenhower and Nixon supported and extended New Deal reforms, while Clinton and Obama willingly gave ground to the pro-market, small-government Republican agenda. (The earlier eras are more mixed, partly because the dominant party was itself evolving. Cleveland, for instance, was more conservative than the most pro-business Republican of his day, while Wilson was relatively progressive, admittedly with certain blinders, most notoriously race.)

The Reagan-to-Trump era differs from the others in several respects. The first three eras started with major shifts to the left: the spread of democracy under Jefferson and Jackson; the end of slavery with Lincoln; Roosevelt's New Deal. Reagan led a backlash, aimed at making Americans less equal, at reducing democracy, and at limiting the rights of most Americans. Although Republicans captured the levers of power and dominated the public agenda, their program was never very popular, their winning margins (aside from Reagan's two elections) slim (twice, at least by actual votes, negative). The eras subdivide, this one breaking down into three waves as presidential power (Reagan, Bush, Trump) did their damage, separated by breaks which allowed the economy to recover (from the first Bush recession of 1992 and the much larger Bush recession of 2008), and the Republicans to recharge (taking control of Congress in 1994 and 2010, kneecapping the Democrats from making changes).

My original idea was to start with this framework, then expand on how Democrats should view 2020 as an epochal, era-ending election, an opportunity not just to reverse the Reagan-to-Trump tide but to build a new paradigm for decades to come. A lot of good things fall out of that perspective. I'm thinking now that I should dial back the ambition from book to essay length, crank out the essay, try to get it published somewhere respectable, and see if there's any further demand. But along the way, I thought of how either of you might help, then came up with something slightly different. That is to look at the Reagan-to-Trump era reactionary movement in the broader context of fascist movements around the world. Also, to lessen my load, and give this a better chance of actually happening, I propose that you two do it as a graphic book (Mike writing, Ram illustrating). Maybe I can contribute some rough ideas, a website, some online notes, like that.

The immediate trigger for the thought was reading Benjamin Carter Hett's "The Death of Democracy: Hitler's Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic." Some descriptions of Hitler can easily be recast for Trump. Some cannot, but the essential point is that both are public faces of crazed mass movements which were handed power by arch-conservative power brokers (the Kochs and Mercers as much as Hindenburg and his business backers), in both cases understanding that their privileges can only be sustained if they can hide behind a political movement preoccupied with hating others. It's taken some countries much longer to mount a successful fascist movement than others. Germany in the 1920s could look back on its humiliating defeat in the Great War and rail against both internal traitors and the insults of reparations, while imagining that the extraordinary will of someone like Hitler could triumph, restoring Germany's greatness among nations. Fascists could build on lesser grounds, as Mussolini did in Italy. Even in England and France, small groups felt cheated and spawned lesser fascist movements.

It was even harder to get a fascist movement started in the US, but in the 1930s there was a clique of conservatives who harbored the fantasy, and they started to build as the Cold War lent their anti-union politics an air of respectability. As Robert Paxton argues in "The Anatomy of Fascism," fascists start out as the public face of oligarchic powers frustrated by having to deal with democracy. That turns out to be a pretty apt description of Trump. And it's worth noting that GW Bush made his own fortune working as the front man for the oil magnates who owned the Texas Rangers. Also that as Reagan's acting career washed up, he made his living as a shill for General Electric (see Kim Phillips-Fein's "Invisible Hands" for more on GE's hardcore opposition to FDR's New Deal). The difference between Hitler and America's leading fascists is that Hitler moved beyond being a front, seizing power and pursuing his own delusions, driving Germany to utter ruin, whereas the damage wrought by the American troika have yet to rebound against their masters.

Thinking along these lines, I was reminded of Marx's quip about Napoleon III in 1848: "history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce." That seems about right for contrasting Trump to Hitler and Mussolini, although one might not want to tempt fate given that the full bill for electing Trump has yet to be paid. Also one doesn't want to make light of the many terrible things that Trump as already done. Still, I see no reason why we can't present him as a buffoon as well as vile. Indeed, that's likely to be where the graphic form is most effective. Nor should we refrain from treating Hitler and Mussolini as farcical characters. Maybe if people had realized then how ridiculous they were, they might have been stopped before they could devastate so much of the world. Stopping Trump is still an option.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, April archive.

Music: current count 31440 [31400] rated (+40), 255 [256] unrated (-1).

Last Monday of the month, so time to unveil April Streamnotes, including this week's subset below. Five Mondays this month, so the totals are up handsomely from the two previous four-Monday months. Weekly rated count is up a bit, but that's partly because I found five records I failed to record grades for recently. Some of those bookkeeping errors probably caused me to log 29-album weeks (four so far this year) instead of 30, long my standard for a productive week.

Worth noting that all three of this week's new non-jazz A-list albums here also placed high on Phil Overeem's latest list (numbers 4, 6, and 20). For what little it's worth, I wrote those before seeing Overeem's list, but not before Dan Weiss praised them on Facebook (although I think I first heard of Billie Eilish from Christgau).

Those tips help make up for the frustration of declining awareness I've been feeling. Although I still keep a music tracking file, I've stopped making any systematic effort to find and list prospects, leaving me with little concept of what to search out next. As a result, I veer off on arbitrary tangents, as when I found a piece called A Guide to Drexciya's Futuristic Electro. I really liked Drexciya's Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller, Vol. I back in 2012, so that seemed worth pursuing. But it certainly fell far short of a plan.

Finally, a link that makes more sense to list here than in yesterday's Weekend Roundup: Rachel Syme: Vince Aletti's Obsessive Collection of Seminal Fashion Magazinse. Vince was one of the first people I met when I moved to New York City in 1977, so it's good to see him again, even older, as we all are.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Kevin Abstract: Arizona Baby (2019, Question Everything/RCA): [r]: B+(**)
  • Juan Álamo & Marimjazzia: Ruta Panoramica (2016 [2019], Summit): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Anderson .Paak: Ventura (2019, Aftermath/12 Tone Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Brittany Anjou: Enamigo Reciprokataj (2015-16 [2019], Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Seamus Blake: Guardians of the Heart Machine (2017 [2019], Whirlwind): [r]: B+(***)
  • Club D'Elf: Night Sparkles (Live) (2011 [2019], Face Pelt): [r]: B+(***)
  • Control Top: Covert Contracts (2019, Get Better): [r]: A-
  • Cooper Moore/Stephen Gauci: Studio Sessions Vol. 1 (2019, Gaucimusic): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Ronnie Cuber: Straight Street (2010 [2019], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Billy Eilish: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (2019, Darkroom/Interscope): [r]: A-
  • Anat Fort Trio: Colour (2019, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
  • Four: There You Go Thinking Again (2018 [2019], Jazz Hang): [cd]: B
  • Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan: Epistrophy (2016 [2019], ECM): [r]: B+(*)
  • Stephen Gauci/Sandy Ewan/Adam Lane/Kevin Shea: Live at the Bushwick Series (2019, Gaucimusic): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Lizzo: Cuz I Love You (2019, Nice Life/Atlantic): [r]: A-
  • Lisa Maxwell's Jazz Orchestra: Shiny! (2018 [2019], Uncle Marvin Music): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Bennett Paster: Indivisible (2018 [2019], self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Andrew Rathbun: Character Study (2017 [2018], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Eric Reed: Everybody Gets the Blues (2019, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(**)
  • Steph Richards: Take the Neon Lights (2019, Birdwatcher): [r]: B+(***)
  • Dave Scott: In Search of Hipness (2018 [2019], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(*)
  • Swindle: No More Normal (2019, Brownswood): [r]: B-
  • Trapper Keaper: Meets Tim Berne & Aurora Nealand (2019, Ears & Eyes/Caligola): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Cory Weeds Quintet: Live at Frankie's Jazz Club (2019, Cellar Live): [r]: B+(*)
  • Walt Weiskopf European Quartet: Worldwide (2019, Orenda): [cd]: A-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Afro-Blue Persuasion: Live at Haight Levels: Volume One (1967 [2019], Tramp): [r]: B+(**)
  • Afro-Blue Persuasion: Live at Haight Levels: Volume Two (1967 [2019], Tramp): [r]: B+(**)
  • Elecktrokids: Elektroworld (1995 [2019], Clone Classic Cuts): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Mark Turner/Gary Foster: Mark Turner Meets Gary Foster (2003 [2019], Capri, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • Bill Cunliffe/Gary Foster: It's About Love (2003, Torii): [r]: B+(***)
  • Drexciya: Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller III (1992-97 [2013], Clone Classic Cuts): [bc]: A-
  • Drexciya: Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller IV (1992-97 [2013], Clone Classic Cubs): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Drexciya: Neptune's Lair (1999, Tresor): [r]: B+(***)
  • Drexciya: Grava 4 (2002, Clone): [r]: B+(**)
  • Billie Eilish: Don't Smile at Me (2017, Darkroom/Interscope, EP): [r]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Greg Abate with the Tim Ray Trio: Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ The Z (Whaling City Sound)
  • Brittany Anjou: Enamigo Reciprokataj (Origin)
  • Rebecca DuMaine and the Dave Miller Combo: Chez Nous (Summit): June 7
  • Satoko Fujii: Stone (Libra): June 7
  • The Invisible Party: Shumankind (Chant -18)
  • Peter Jensen & DR Big Band: Stand on Your Feet and Fight: Voices of the Danish West Indies (ILK)
  • Ellynne Rey: The Birdsong Project (self-released): May 1
  • Rent Romus' Life's Blood Ensemble: Side Three: New Work (Edgetone)
  • The Richard Shulman Trio: Waltzing out of Town (RichHeart Music): May 11
  • Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: The Rhythm of Invention (Patois): June 7
  • Walt Weiskopf European Quartet: Worldwide (Orenda): May 3

Purchases:

  • Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy (2018 [2019], Atlantic) [A-]
  • Todd Snider: Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3 (2019, Aimless) [A-]

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Started early and still running late. Having recently read Benjamin Carter Hett's The Death of Democracy: Hitler's Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic, I woke up this morning with the idea of writing something about Trump, Republicans, and Fascism for today's introduction. Never got close to that. Hett's book is pretty straight history, but you can find a page here or there where you could easily gloss in Trump's name for Hitler's. Then you move onto other pages where Trump fails any comparison, usually by being too dumb or too lazy. There are also big differences between the Nazis and the Republicans, although differences on race, foreigners, unions, and military muscle are insignificant. The biggest one is that the Nazis actually had their own goon squad that could go out and physically attack their suspected enemies, whereas Republicans only wish they could do that. Still, the key point about Germany in 1932 was supposedly sober conservatives were so desperate to squash the left -- indeed, any trace of popular government, of democracy -- that they were willing to hand power over to a psycho like Hitler and his vicious gang of followers. Republicans seem happy to do the same thing here in America, for the same reasons, and with the same obliviousness to consequences.

I should note somewhere that former Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) died last week. Back in the 1980s he was the model of how a Republican politician could straddle moderate urban politics (he was mayor of Indianapolis) and the Reagan reaction, which for a time helped make the latter seem more innocuous and palatable. He was finally devoured by the right, purged in a primary by an opponent so extreme that the Democrats were able to (temporarily) pick up the seat. I never felt any particular fondness for Lugar, but I could understand why people respected him. Even his breed of Republican is now a thing of the past.

Also noted that historian David Brion Davis has died. His 1967 book The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture greatly affected the way pretty much everyone understood the history of slavery in the Americas. I've often thought I should check out his later books, especially the ones that extended his study into the 19th century. I learned of his death from a cranky Corey Robin note, which I decided not to bother with below. Here's a more useful (and generous) obituary.


Anyhow, this is what the week has to show for itself:

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Daily Log

Fixed dinner for four last night. Wasn't planned, except iasmuch as I bought a pound of hamburger thinking I'd make meatloaf, then postponed it after my wife stuck the meat in the freezer. I already had a pound of ground lamb there, and keep everything else I would need as staples. So when I announced I'd fix it Friday, my wife invited a couple of friends over. I don't normally make any extra dishes for just the two of us -- the meatloaf baked with some root vegetables, so makes a nice comforty meal-for-two, with leftovers for sandwiches. But with two more guests, I figured I should add a little something. I decided to limit myself to things I could fix without shopping. Came up with this:

  • Meatloaf (beef + lamb, with onion, green bell pepper, garlic, a can of tomatoes, two eggs, parmesan cheese, some spices) with coarsely chopped root vegetables (yukon potatoes, parsnip, a sweet potato).
  • Baked beans topped with bacon (two cans of Van Camps, flavored with mustard, catsup, worcestshire, brown sugar, maple syrup, also threw in a bit of Chinese bean sauce).
  • Cut green beans (a frozen bag), microwaved and added to a skillet with butter, shallots (two chopped), ham (two slices, diced fine), roasted garlic, a chopped scallion, sliced almonds, and a splash of sesame oil. (Thought about adding parmesan, but don't think I did.)
  • Roaster butternut squash soup.
  • Chocolate mousse for dessert.

I made the soup several days before. I thought it was pretty tasty, but I mostly make soups for Laura, and she didn't seem much interested in it. The other choices were mostly dictated by trying to get rid of things from the freezer and the pantry. I first tried another bag of cut green beans, but after I screwed up and boiled the pot dry, I decided they weren't worth saving, and grabbed another bag. The canned beans were old too: we threw out several ancient cans last week, so that got me thinking I should use what I had left. The bacon was OK, but running out of time. I meant to include carrots, but had to throw the few I had out (as well as most of the rest of the produce drawer).

The first two were old family recipes (the beans from my first wife) that I had fiddled with over the years. The green beans was pure improv. Earlier I had the idea of making creamed corn, but gave that up when I only found small packages of corn in the freezer. (The recipe, of course, frowned on using frozen corn, but I think I've used it before.) The cream got me to thinking about chocolate mousse, as one of the few really good desserts I could whip up in just a few minutes.

The chocolate mousse was a last-minute idea, started just before the guests arrived. I had several opened packages of chocolate in the fridge, and found 4 oz. of 70% bittersweet there. I had a guest whisk the melted chocolate/butter and egg yolks, and they wound up lumpy. I didn't pay enough attention to whipping either the egg yolks or the cream, and both came out less airy than ideal. The result was kind of lumpy and soupy, although the taste was there. It's just that you had to chew it to break the lumps open, but that turned out to be surprisingly satisfying.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, April archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31400 [31371] rated (+29), 256 [252] unrated (+4).

Seems like pretty much everything is a struggle these days. My most common complaint is that I'm getting sick and tired of not being able to do things right. A typical example was trying to repair a screen door lock. A nylon washer disappeared, and has proven impossible to replace. I bought some things I thought I might be able to use, then lost them. Bought some more, and turned out they were too thick, and hole was too small. I tried drilling out the hole, and destroyed the washer. Finally reassembled the door handle without the washer. The set screw is hard to get a grip on. It will no doubt fall apart again in a matter of days, at best a couple weeks. I have a bunch of other things that are falling apart, many because I didn't do a good enough job building them in the first place.

On the other hand, I have gotten a few things done. The new pantry shelf unit is painted and bolted in place, although we haven't really put it to use yet. That's waiting a second pantry improvement. I built a rather neat storage unit, then screwed up hanging the door so it never closed correctly (or at least easily). It finally dawned on me that if I could shave a quarter inch off the bottom surface, it should close without having to change the hinges. All that's left to do there is to rehang the door, and see whether the theory worked. Tomorrow.

At least I finally got my computers moved, making my workspace much more comfortable. Still haven't done the next step, which is to set up virtual web servers on the secondary machine, so I can start redesigning the Robert Christgau and Carola Dibbell websites. I should at least know what I'm doing there.

Meanwhile, another routine week of music discoveries. Hard part for me is deciding what to search out. This seems like a typical week with two weeks of Christgau picks, further search down Phil Overeem's list, and the first Michael Tatum Downloader's Diary in quite a while. Unfortunately, I found myself coming up short with their well-considered picks. Instead, I went with the new Chemical Brothers album (I think someone on the Expert Witness Facebook group raved about it, but don't recall who), and a 1979 jazz album reissue that probably showed up in a Bandcamp Daily list (which I started using a couple weeks back when I couldn't play Napster).

Also, two rare regrades to from B+(***) to A-, originally reviewed by streaming but given a few more changes after CDs arrived. People shouldn't get the idea that all they have to do to get higher grades is to send me CDs, but they do help in cases where I've held a grade back due to some minor reservations.

April Streamnotes should be released with next Music Week, on April 29. Currently have 113 records in the draft file, so I'll probably wind up with 140-150.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Art Ensemble of Chicago: We Are on the Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration (2018 [2019], Pi, 2CD): [cd]: B+(**)
  • The Chemical Brothers: No Geography (2019, Virgin EMI): [r]: A-
  • Martin Frawley: Undone at 31 (2019, Merge): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ahmed Ag Kaedy: Akaline Kidal (2019, Sahel Sounds): [r]: B+(**)
  • Salif Keita: Un Autre Blanc (2018 [2019], Naive): [r]: B+(***)
  • Khalid: Suncity (2018, RCA, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Khalid: Free Spirit (2019, RCA): [r]: B+(***)
  • Larry Koonse: New Jazz Standards Vol. 4 (2019, Summit): [cd]: B
  • Joachim Kühn: Melodic Ornette Coleman: Piano Works XIII (2018 [2019], ACT): [r]: B+(*)
  • Russ Lossing: Changes (2018 [2019], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Russ Lossing: Motian Music (2019, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
  • Reba McEntire: Stronger Than the Truth (2019, Big Machine): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sam Ospovat: Ride Angles (2018 [2019], Skirl): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Hama Sankare: Ballébé: Calling All Africans (2018, Clermont Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Hama Sankare: Niafunke (2019, Clermont Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Silk Road Assassins: State of Ruin (2019, Planet Mu): [r]: B+(*)
  • Marcos Silva: Brasil: From Head to Toe (2019, Green Egg): [cd]: B
  • Solange: When I Get Home (2019, Saint/Columbia): [r]: B+(*)
  • Spellling: Mazy Fly (2019, Sacred Bones): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sunflower Bean: King of the Dudes (2019, Mom + Pop, EP): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Infinite Spirit Music: Live Without Fear (1979 [2019], Jazzman): [r]: A-
  • Live at Raul's (1979 [2019], Steady Boy): [r]: B+(*)
  • Onda De Amor: Synthesized Brazilian Hits That Never Were (1984-94) (1984-94 [2018], Soundway): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Weaponize Your Sound (2019, Optimo Music): [bc]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • Salif Keita: The Mansa of Mali: A Retrospective (1978-94 [1994], Mango): [r]: B+(***)
  • Russ Lossing: Dreamer (2000, Double Time): [r]: B+(**)
  • Russ Lossing/Ed Schuller/Paul Motian: As It Grows (2002 [2004], Hatology): [r]: B+(**)
  • Russ Lossing: All Things Arise (2005 [2006], Hatology): [r]: B+(**)
  • Timosaurus: I Love You More Than Yesterday (2011, self-released): [bc]: B+(**)


Grade (or other) changes:

  • Hiljaisuus: Kuzu (2017 [2019], Astral Spirits/Aerophonic): [cd]: was: B+(***) A-
  • Matthew Shipp Trio: Signature (2018 [2019], ESP-Disk): [cd]: was B+(***) A-

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • The Campfire Flies: Sparks Like Litle Stars (OverPop Music)
  • Mark Dresser Seven: Ain't Nothing but a Cyber Coup & You (Clean Feed): May 10
  • Four: There You Go Thinking Again (Jazz Hang)
  • Bennett Paster: Indivisible (self-released): May 3
  • Trapper Keeper: Meets Tim Berne & Aurora Nealand (Ears & Eyes)
  • Mark Turner/Gary Foster: Mark Turner Meets Gary Foster (Capri): May 17
  • The United States Air Force Band: The Jazz Heritage Series: 2019 Radio Broadcasts (self-released)

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Let's start off with a range of reactions to the release (with extensive redactions) of the final report of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller: