Latest Notebook Entries


Monday, July 13, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33607 [33567] rated (+40), 225 [212] unrated (+13).

Trumpet player Eddie Gale (78) died last week. He had a spotty recording career, but always came up with something interesting when he appeared. He achieved a measure of fame for his role on Cecil Taylor's 1966 album Unit Structures, then followed that with two excellent albums on Blue Note: Ghetto Music (1968) and Black Rhythm Happening (1969). He had a revival c. 2004 with reissue of his albums on Water and a new one, Afro Fire.

I added a lengthy midyear list by Stephen Thomas Erlewine to my metacritic file (code SE). He added first mentions of 10 new albums (mostly country), plus a bunch of reissues and vault music. He shows some favor there for lavish box sets, and also seems to get good service from Ace, Bear Family, Cherry Red, and Omnivore. I'm so jealous.

Robert Christgau published his July Consumer Guide mid-week. I was originally pleased to see that for four 2020 releases I had previously rated A- got the same grade from him (Chicago Farmer, Bob Dylan, Hinds, Waxahatchie), and that the other new records I had graded lower also got lower grades from him (Terry Allen, Jason Isbell). That also left some things I hadn't heard (or in some cases hadn't heard of), but further digging revealed that I had given the Daniele Luppi/Parquet Courts EP a B+(***) back in January 2018. I played most of the rest, still procrastinatig on the Sonic Youth bootleg (one of way too many for my purposes, although I may reconsider when I get around to formatting Joe Yanosik's Consumer Guide for his corner of my website) and Joe Levy's Uprising 2020 playlist (not my idea of a real thing, although so immediately relevant to the times I expect to listen to it).

I got to the Thiago Nassif and Moor Jewelry A- records after my cut-off, but figured why make you wait, especially given that there are other ways to find my grade. Usually takes me 8-16 hours to catch everything up after my break, so I always listen to a few records during that time. (Four more in the scratch file at present, not counting these two.)

Quite a bit of unpacking below, many from Lithuania. Also got a hard copy of Luis Lopes' Believe, Believe, which I had given a B+(***) to based on streaming. I looked for records by the late bassist Simon H. Fell. Found quite a few, but mostly Bandcamp with most tracks missing, so didn't manage to review much. Took a dive into pianist Hampton Hawes, thanks to a question. I will answer that (and whatever else comes in) later during the week. I've gotten into a rut where I start each day off by playing something classic, then when I settle down in front of the computer, find it easier to dial up something to stream. I'll make a conscious effort to catch up a bit next week.

New records reviewed this week:

  • Anteloper: Tour Beats Vol. 1 (2020, International Anthem, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Arca: Kick I (2020, XL): [r]: B+(*)
  • Bananagun: The True Story of Bananagun (2020, Full Time Hobby): [r]: B+(*)
  • Beauty Pill: Sorry You're Here (2020, Taffety Punk Theatre Company): [r]: B+(***)
  • Beauty Pill: Please Advise (2020, Northern Spy, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Clint Black: Out of Same (2020, Black Top): [r]: B+(*)
  • Clem Snide: Forever Just Beyond (2020, Ramseur): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jeff Cosgrove/John Medeski/Jeff Lederer: History Gets Ahead of the Story (2018 [2020], Grizzley Music): [cd]: B+(***) [07-17]
  • Dream Wife: So When You Gonna . . . (2020, Lucky Number): [r]: A-
  • Baxter Dury: The Night Chancers (2020, Heavenly): [r]: B+(*)
  • Field Music: Making a New World (2020, Memphis Industries): [r]: B+(*)
  • Khruangbin: Mordechai (2020, Dead Oceans): [r]: B+(*)
  • King Krule: Man Alive! (2020, True Pather): [r]: B
  • Stephen Malkmus: Groove Denied (2019, Matador): [r]: B+(**)
  • Stephen T. Malkmus: Traditional Techniques (2020, Matador): [r]: B+(*)
  • Moor Jewelry: True Opera (2020, Don Giovanni): [r]: A-*
  • Thiago Nassif: Mente (2020, Gearbox): [r]: A-
  • Carlos Nińo & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson: Chicago Waves (2020, International Anthem): [r]: B+(*)
  • Pearl Jam: Gigaton (2020, Monkeywrench/Republic): [r]: B
  • Margo Price: That's How Rumors Get Started (2020, Loma Vista): [r]: B+(*)
  • Tenille Townes: The Lemonade Stand (2020, Columbia Nashville): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Weeknd: After Hours (2020, Republic): [r]: B
  • Gillian Welch & David Rawlings: All the Good Times Are Past & Gone (2020, Acony): [r]: B+(**)
  • X: Alphabetland (2020, Fat Possum): [r]: B+(*)
  • Yonic South: Wild Cobs (2019, La Tempesta, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Yonic South: Twix and Dive (La Tempesta, EP): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Nublu Orchestra Conducted by Butch Morris: Live in Bergamo (2008 [2020], Nublu): [r]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • Simon H. Fell: The Exploding Flask of Muesli: Electroacoustic & Electronic Works 1994-2002 (1994-2002 [2013], Bruce's Fingers): [r]: B+(*)
  • Simon H. Fell: Le Bruit De La Musique (2015 [2016], Confront): [r]: B+(*)
  • Hampton Hawes: Everybody Likes Hampton Hawes: Vol. 3: The Trio (1956 [1990], Contemporary/OJC): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hampton Hawes Quartet: All Night Session! Volume 1 (1956 [1991], Contemporary/OJC): [r]: B+(***)
  • Hampton Hawes Quartet: All Night Session! Volume 2 (1956 [1992], Contemporary/OJC): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hampton Hawes Trio: The Séance (1966 [1998], Contemporary/OJC): [r]: B+(***)
  • Hampton Hawes: Trio at Montreux (1971 [1976], Jas): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hampton Hawes/Cecil McBee/Roy Haynes: Live at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago: Volume Two (1973 [1989], Enja): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hampton Hawes: Something Special (1976 [1994], Contemporary): [r]: B+(***)
  • William Parker: In Order to Survive (1993 [1995], Black Saint): [r]: A-
  • William Parker/Giorgio Dini: Temporary (2009, Silta): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jessie Ware: Glasshouse (2017, Interscope): [r]: B+(*)

Grade (or other) changes:

  • Beauty Pill: Beauty Pill Describes Things as They Are (2015, Butterscotch): [r]: [was: B] B+(*)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Conrad Bauer/Matthias Bauer/Dag Magnus Narvesen: The Gift (NoBusiness): cdr (lp only)
  • Adam Caine Quartet: Transmissions (NoBusiness)
  • François Carrier/Masayo Koketsu/Daisuke Fuwa/Takashi Itani: Japan Suite (NoBusiness)
  • Vincent Chancey: The Spell: The Vincent Chancey Trio Live 1987 (NoBusiness) *
  • DUX Orchestra: Duck Walks Dog (With Mixed Results) (1994, NoBusiness): cdr (lp only)
  • Falkner Evans: Marbles (CAP)
  • John Fedchock NY Sextet: Into the Shadows (Summit) [07-17]
  • Agustí Fernández/Liudas Mockunas: Improdimensions (NoBusiness): cdr (lp only)
  • Gato Libre: Kaneko (Libra) [07-10]
  • Sue Anne Gershenzon: You Must Believe in Spring (self-released) [08-01]
  • Keys & Screws [Thomas Borgmann/Jan Roder/Willi Kellers]: Some More Jazz (NoBusiness): cdr (lp only)
  • Luís Lopes Humanization 4tet: Believe, Believe (Clean Feed)
  • Sam Rivers: Richochet [Sam Rivers Archive Project, Volume 3] (1978, NoBusiness)
  • Jason Robinson & Eric Hofbauer: Two Hours Early, Ten Minutes Late: Duo Music of Ken Aldcroft (Accretions)
  • Benny Rubin Jr. Quartet: Know Say or See (Benny Jr. Music)
  • Threadbare [Jason Stein/Ben Cruz/Emerson Hunton]: Silver Dollar (NoBusiness)

Daily Log

Consumer Reports "best stick vacuums for $150 or less:"

  • Shark APEX UpLight Lift-Away Duo Clean LZ601: CR97, $275
  • Shark APEX DuoClean Corded ZS360: CR94, $220
  • Shark Rocket DuoClean Ultra-Light Corded UV380: CR94, $180
  • Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Slim 2897 (Walmart): CR85, 27 ft cord, 9 lbs
  • Dirt Devil Power Stick SD12530: CR88, $88.45
  • Dirt Devil Power Swerve BD22050: $86.40
  • Dirt Devil Reach Max Plus BD22510PC: $42.41
  • Hoover Platinum LiNX BH50010: $108.95
  • Kenmore CSV Go 10438: 5 lbs, $129.99
  • Shark Navigator Freestyle SV1106:

Amazon shopping:

  • Dyson V11 Cordless: $608.89
  • Dyson V10 Cyclone Absolute: 5.88 lbs, $599.99
  • Dyson V10 Animal Cordless: $499.99
  • Dyson V8 Animal Cordless: $412.50
  • Dyson V7 227591-01 Cordless: 5.3 lbs, $268.99
  • Shark APEX UpLIght Lift-Away Duo Clean LZ601 (Renewed): 15.32 lbs, $268.95
  • Shark APEX DuoClean ZS362 Corded: "A choice", 8 oz, $249.99
  • Shark Rocket ZS351 Corded: 9.3 lbs, $209.99
  • Shark Rocket IX141 Cordless: 7.5 lbs, $199.99
  • Shark Rocket HV301 Bagless Corded: 7.6 lbs, $149.00
  • APOSEN H251 Cordless: 5.5 lbs, $146.97
  • Eureka RapidClean Pro Cordless: "A choice $100-200", 5.26 lbs, $134.99
  • Shark Rocket ZS351 Corded [Renewed]: $134.99
  • Shark Navigator Freestyle SV1106 Cordless: 7.5 lbs, $129.99
  • Eureka Flash NES510 Corded: 6.3 lbs, $125.98
  • APOSEN H250 Cordless: $122.39
  • Bissell Adapt Ion Pet Cordless: 7.68 lbs, $119.99
  • Simplicity S60 Spiffy Bagless Corded: 7.94 lbs, $119.99
  • Hoover Platinum LiNX BH50010 Cordless: 10 lbs, $108.95
  • MOOSOO XL-618A Cordless: HEPA filters $14.99/2, $106.99
  • APOSEN Cordless: $98.99
  • Dirt Devil Power Swerve Pet BD22052 Cordless: 5.2 lbs, $86.82
  • Bissell 81L2W Hard Floor Expert Corded: "A choice under $100", 7 lbs, $54.99

Note: we could get another 30 foot hose (2-way switch, pigtail a/c power) for $145, or a 30 foot hose (1-way switch) for $109.

Ultimately ordered the APOSEN H251. I liked the modular design, the the tools, the removable battery, what appears to be a relatively clean way of emptying, and the washable filters. For occasional spot work, cordless seemed the way to go. We have an Electrolux stick vac downstairs. I haven't been much impressed with its cleaning, and Laura thought it was heavy and hard to use. At 5.4 lbs. it's about the same weight as the APOSEN, but the latter has more of its weight at the top than at the bottom, and the stick connection to the floor unit is much more lexible, so it should be easier to maneuver. I'd never heard of the brand (most likely a Chinese knock-off). Shark was rated highly by Consumer Reports, but corded models were heavier and more expensive. I haven't seen any Dyson ratings, but their new models are very expensive.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Today's headline: Florida shatters single-day infection record with 15,300 new cases. I don't generally like linking to video, but here's Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis bragging about how safe Florida is (video seems to be from May 20), and how the alarmists have been disproven.

Some scattered links this week:

  • Zeeshan Aleem: The Goya Foods free speech controversy, explained: "Goya Foods' CEO says his speech is being suppressed by a boycott. It's not." I don't care much one way or the other, but when corporate spokespeople make inflammatory political comments, which is their right if not evidence of good sense, others have a right to get upset and withhold their business. For past examples, look at what right-wing pundits had to say about Nike. While I don't care much, I did include this link because I wanted to add this tweet from Charles M Blow:

    Once more: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CANCEL CULTURE. There is free speech. You can say and do as you pls, and others can choose never to deal this you, your company or your products EVER again. The rich and powerful are just upset that the masses can now organize their dissent.

  • Jay Ambrose: Slavery is not all that America is about: Another right-wing pundit, can't find much about him but he started appearing in the Wichita Eagle recently, sandwiched between Cal Thomas and Marc Thiessen. This piece is especially wretched. It starts:

    The New York Times last year came up with a project to debase America, to say this country is about nothing but slavery, that the institution has determined everything we are, that it instructs us to this day on the maltreatment of Black people. The Revolutionary War was fought to keep it going, and the pretenses of liberty and equality have been just that, pretenses. Slavery even fashioned a capitalism that maintains its evils and built our economy, we learn.

    Black Americans are the real purveyors of the ideas of liberty and equality, not racist whites, we are also instructed in the so-called 1619 Project that started with a bunch of essays in The Times Sunday magazine. . . .

    The really scary thing is The Times has so arranged things that a book of the project's contents will be taught in public high schools. That will help to further dislodge future generations from any understanding of how our values fought slavery instead of bowing to it, that many have understood that slavery and Jim Crow are our vilest faults without saying we have no virtues.

    It is certainly important to recognize our faults but also to acknowledge, as Black American pundit Thomas Sowell has pointed out, that Black Americans were making far more progress on their own initiative before some liberal politicians in the 1960s entered in to do misconceived things for votes and guilt atonement.

    The key word here is "debase": Ambrose thinks the only reason for writing about slavery is to make America look bad. He further surmises that if schoolchildren were exposed to this history, they'd -- well, I'm just guessing here -- grow up with some kind of guilt complex about being American. And why would that be such a bad thing? Well -- another guess, but less of a leap -- they might doubt their conservative leaders about how virtuous America has always been. Maybe 1619 Project tilts a bit too hard the other way, but their view hasn't been given much airing, and it uncovered a lot of forgotten (or ignored) history. The last part of the quote is even more scurrilous. It's true that blacks were making progress before the 1964 Civil Rights Act: that's why the Act was passed, to secure as well as to advance that progress. And if some whites voted for it for "guilt atonement," they often did have much to feel guilty about. But one should also mention that many felt anger about the extremely public violence segregationists used to deny Americans rights we supposedly all cherish. The implication that the Civil Rights Act ended that progress is ludicrous. Progress since then has been erratic and sometimes glacial, but the obstacles have always come from conservatives like Ambrose, who feel my guilt and take no responsibility for their ancestors or, indeed, their racist selves.

    Ambrose's one attempt to argue with the 1619 historiography is his citation of Gordon Wood ("who says there is not a single quote anywhere to be found of a colonist saying the war could save slavery"). Wood is my "go to" historian of the Revolution and the early republic (at least since Richard B. Morris passed), so I respect his criticism of the 1619 Project, but find that he invalidates very little of its historical contribution. See: An interview with historian Gordon Wood on the New York Times' 1619 Project.

  • Dean Baker: Is it impossible to envision a world without patent monopolies? Elisabeth Rosenthal, at the New York Times, thinks not.

    While her points are all well-taken, the amazing part is that she never considers the simplest solution, just don't give the companies patent monopolies in the first place. The story here is the government is paying for most of the research upfront. While it has to pay for it a second time by giving the companies patent monopolies.

    There is no reason that the government can't simply make it a condition of the funding that all research findings are fully open and that any patents will be in the public domain so that any vaccines will be available as a cheap generic from the day it comes on the market. Not only does this ensure that a vaccine will be affordable, it will likely mean more rapid progress since all researchers will be able to immediately learn from the success or failures of other researchers.

    I'd go further and add that even when government does not fund the research, prospective patents are not necessary to encourage research and development and are often counterproductive. Moreover, the efficiencies within any given country from publicly funding research and publishing findings others can freely build upon would be multiplied many times over if adopted everywhere. One more point is that ending patents would significantly change the dynamics of "free trade" pacts, which often are more preoccupied with forcing adherence to an international tribute system to owners of "intellectual property," even at the expense of free trade.

  • Zack Beauchamp: What the police really believe: "Inside the distinctive, largely unknown ideology of American policing -- and how it justifies racist violence."

  • Jamelle Bouie: Maybe this isn't such a good time to prosecute a culture war

  • Ronald Brownstein: Trump's America is slipping away: "He's trying to assemble a winning coalition with a dwindling number of sympathetic white voters." Nixon, with Kevin Phillips crunching the numbers, figured that if he could add Southern whites and Northern ethnics (mostly Catholics) to the Republican core he'd have a coalition capable of winning for decades. He came up with the basic pitch in 1972, and Reagan clinched the deal in the 1980s before, well, they proved basically incompetent at running the government. Since then they've mastered the mechanics of tilting elections their way, and they've repeatedly doubled down on the demagoguery, recovering quickly from the inevitable setbacks when their record came into focus. Trump is still using the Nixon/Reagan coalition plan. He won in 2016 by hitting it hard, while facing a uniquely compromised opponent running on a lacklustre record of indifference to average Americans. And no, he has no new ideas on coalition-building, even though (as the article points out) the numbers have shifted significantly away from his favor.

  • Kate Conger/Jack Healy/Lucy Tompkins: Churches were eager to reopen. Now they are confronting coronavirus cases.

  • David Dayen: Just one week to stop a calamity. Technically, two weeks until the federal "stimulus" payments expire, but the Senate is adjourned for another week, so no discussion until then.

  • Matt Ford: Fear of a Forever-Trump administration: "There doesn't seem to be much faith in the peaceful transition of power, if the burgeoning canon of postelection pulp horror is any guide." I think we've gotten carried away with projecting Trump's authoritarian tastes and temperament into a threat to end democracy. While Trump himself may be so inclined, and while his personality cult gives him some leeway to act out, I don't see any ideological or institutional support for such a change. What I do see is a Republican Party dedicated to bending the rules, trying to tailor the electorate to its taste and scheming to grab pockets of power that will allow them to survive momentary lapses. I also see many people who are willing to follow any crackpot who flatters them and promises them dominance over myriad threats. Least of all is Trump's personal cult, which while substantial is still a minority taste, and more generally an embarrassment even to his sponsors. If fascism does come to America, they'll pick a more agreeable (and more competent) front man than Trump.

  • Masha Gessen: A theme park of Donald Trump's dreams: Trump's executive order to establish a National Garden of American Heroes. It includes an initial list of people to be represented in stone. It's a peculiar list, with a judicious selection of women (Susan B Anthony, Clara Barton, Amelia Earhart, Dolley Madison, Christa McAuliffe, Betsy Ross, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Tubman) and blacks (Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr, Jackie Robinson, Tubman, Booker T Washington), without any Confederate leaders or ideologues, but the only 20th century president is Ronald Reagan, and the only Supreme Court Justice is Antonin Scalia. As Gessen notes, the only writer is Stowe, and there are no artists or scientists. Also, no Indians (but also no Andrew Jackson or George Armstrong Custer, although Davy Crockett made the list). I'll add that there are no major business figures, and the only inventors are the Wright Brothers. Also, one name I had to look up: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (a governor of Maine). Other relative obscurities are McAuliffe (the much touted teacher-astronaut blown up by NASA) and Audie Murphy (a WWII soldier who capitalized on his Medal of Honor to become a minor Hollywood actor). As Gessen sums up: "a skeletal, heroic history, with a lot of shooting, a lot of flying, and very little government."

  • Brittany Gibson: One billionaire vs. the mail: "A new report details Charles Koch's 50-year war on the US Postal Service."

  • David A Graham: Donald Trump's lost cause.

  • Stanley B Greenberg: The Tea Party's last stand. "The right wing's current pathetic defense of President Trump contrasts sharply with the Tea Party revolt against the election and re-election of President Barack Obama." The Tea Party only worked as an attack vehicle. They never had any program to advance. They simply meant to oppose whatever it was Democrats wanted, starting with recovery from the recession. Even today, Trump appeals to them not for any program but because Trump is the embodiment of their nihilistic worldview. Greenberg writes: "President Trump is trapped by a pandemic and protests that only magnify his insecurity and weak hold on his own party -- and by his need to provoke a Tea Party to make its last stand." But the Tea Party can't save Trump, because they can't turn their intensity into votes. On the other hand, Trump's demise won't be their end. They will find even more to hate in the next wave of Democrats. The open question is whether the media will take them seriously next time around, allowing them to magnify their impact. A big part of the reason they were able to pull that off in 2009 was Obama's efforts to "reach across the aisle" and "heal the divide" -- by their very existence they proved Obama wrong. Better to dismiss them as the whiny dead-enders they are.

  • Glenn Greenwald: How the House Armed Services Committee, in the middle of a pandemic, approved a huge military budget and more war in Afghanistan.

  • Jonathan Guyer: How Biden's foreign-policy team got rich: "Strategic consultants will define Biden's relationship to the world."

  • Jack Healy/Adam Liptak: Landmark Supreme Court ruling affirms Native American rights in Oklahoma.

  • Sean Illing: Is evangelical support for Trump a contradiction?: "A religious historian explains why Trump wasn't a trade-off for American evangelicals." Interview with Kristen Kobes Du Mez, author of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.

    According to Du Mez, evangelical leaders have spent decades using the tools of pop culture -- films, music, television, and the internet -- to grow the movement. The result, she says, is a Christianity that mirrors that culture. Instead of modeling their lives on Christ, evangelicals have made heroes of people like John Wayne and Mel Gibson, people who project a more militant and more nationalist image. In that sense, Trump's strongman shtick is a near-perfect expression of their values.

    That doesn't even sound like values to me, but I've long noted a division among Christians between those who care for and seek to help their neighbors and those who wish to consign them to hell. The prevalence of revenge fantasies in American culture certainly feeds that tendency.

  • Umair Irfan: Why extreme heat is so alarming for the fight against Covid-19. Interesting that the focus here isn't about global warming, even though the impetus is a 120F forecast for Phoenix, which would be a record high (tying the third highest temperature ever in Phoenix, the highest being 122F). On the other hand, Arizona is the worst Covid-19 hotspot in the nation, and probably the world. Remember how Trump was talking about the virus vanishing when it warms up?

  • Jen Kirby:

  • Ezra Klein: Masha Gessen on the frightening fragility of America's political institutions: Interview, based on Gessen's new book Autocracy: Rules for Survival.

  • Bonnie Kristian: The real story about Russian bounties on US troops isn't whether Trump knew about it,

  • Robert Kuttner:

    • Biden's new economic nationalism: Better than you may think: "And some of it seems to have been inspired by Elizabeth Warren." Also:

    • Privatizing our public water supply.

      The House Democrats have made a good start with HR2, the Invest in America Act -- but with one weird exception: A provision slipped into the bill by the water privatization industry and its Congressional allies would create incentives to privatize America's water supply systems, one of the few essential services that are still mostly public thanks to the heroic struggles of our Progressive Era forebears, who worked to assure clean and affordable water via public systems. . . .

      Privatized systems are typically less reliable, far more expensive, and prone to corrupt deal-making. The average community with privatized water paid 59 percent more than those with government supplied water. In New Jersey, which has more private water than most, private systems charged 79 percent more. In Illinois, they charged 95 percent more. Private water corporations have also been implicated in environmental disasters. The French multinational, Veolia, issued a report in 2015 certifying that Flint, Michigan's water system met EPA standards, but neglected to mention high lead concentrations.

  • Dave Lindorff: Why the high dudgeon over alleged Russian bounties for Taliban slaying of US troops: This was my second thought on hearing of the story, but I've been waiting for someone else to quote: "Paying for scalps has a venerable tradition in the US. Ask any Native American." My first thought was that the US did something damn similar when the Russians occupied Afghanistan. Maybe not bounties per sé, but the CIA certainly pressed its client mujahideen to focus on inflicting blood losses on Russia.

  • Martin Longman: The spiraling downward trend of Donald Trump's political life: "My best guess is that for the rest of the campaign, every day is going to be worse for Trump than the last. And that means every day will technically be the worst day of Trump's political life."

  • Annie Lowrey: The pandemic proved that cash payments work: "An extra $600 a week buys freedom from fear."

  • Farhad Manjoo: I've seen a future without cars, and it's amazing. When I was growing up, cars meant everything. Even now, when our car use as atrophied to the point I've only filled it up once since March, I can't imagine doing the things we need to do without one. On the other hand, when I was growing up, I had an aunt who didn't drive, and today I have a nephew who doesn't drive, and both managed to deal with the trade-offs. Before I could drive, I was able to get around most of Wichita on bike. And I've had a couple of stretches without a car: two years at college in St. Louis, and three years living in Manhattan. Manjoo's article actually limits itself to Manhattan, where the cost/benefit ratio of having a car is higher than anywhere else in America, and the externalities of others' cars are even greater. His idea is freshly illustrated, but I'd like to point out that it isn't new: Paul and Percival Goodman wrote it up c. 1950, and included it in Paul Goodman's Utopian Essays & Practical Proposals (1962). Even now, Manjoo concedes: "With a population that is already quite used to getting along without cars, the island is just about the only place in the country where you could even consider calling for the banishment of cars."

  • Dylan Matthews: Congress's Covid-19 rescue plan was bigger than the New Deal. It's about to end.

  • Terrence McCoy: They lost the Civil War and fled to Brazil. Their descendants refuse to take down the Confederate flag. "It's one of history's lesser-known episodes. After the Civil War, thousands of defeated Southerners came to Brazil to self-exile in a country that still practiced slavery." Somehow I missed this story, although I did know about the "loyalists" who left America for Canada during/after the Revolution, "fundamentalist" Mormons to settled in Mexico, and Nazis who made their way to Paraguay and other South American countries. I'd guess some Confederates landed in Cuba as well, given that Cuba was the last place in the America to abolish slavery, and that slaveholders in the 1850s were so anxious to annex it as a slave state.

  • John Merrick: Mike Davis tried to warn us about a virus-induced apocalypse. He did so in a book called The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu (2005). Now he returns with a "substantially expanded edition," The Monster Enters: Covid-19, Avian Flu and the Plagues of Capitalism. By the way, that last bit didn't come from nowhere. That was the subject of his 2001 book Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nińo Famines and the Making of the Third World.

  • Ian Millhiser:

  • Lee Moran: GOP state lawmaker: 'I want to see more people' get coronavirus.

  • Sean Murphy: Health official: Trump rally 'likely' source of virus surge.

  • Ellen Nakashima: Trump confirms cyberattack on Russian trolls to deter them during 2018 midterms.

  • Nicole Narea:

  • Ella Nilsen: How Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders joined forces to craft a bold, progressive agenda.

  • Osita Nwanevu:

  • Ashley Parker/Philip Rucker/Josh Dawsey: Trump the victim: President complains in private about the pandemic hurting him.

    Callers on President Trump in recent weeks have come to expect what several allies and advisers describe as a "woe-is-me" preamble.

    The president rants about the deadly coronavirus destroying "the greatest economy," one he claims to have personally built. He laments the unfair "fake news" media, which he vents never gives him any credit. And he bemoans the "sick, twisted" police officers in Minneapolis, whose killing of an unarmed black man in their custody provoked the nationwide racial justice protests that have confounded the president.

    Gone, say these advisers and confidants, many speaking on the condition of anonymity to detail private conversations, are the usual pleasantries and greetings.

    Instead, Trump often launches into a monologue placing himself at the center of the nation's turmoil. The president has cast himself in the starring role of the blameless victim -- of a deadly pandemic, of a stalled economy, of deep-seated racial unrest, all of which happened to him rather than the country.

  • Andrew Prokop: The past 24 hours in Trump legal issues and controversies, explained: "Supreme Court decisions, closed-door testimony, and developments for Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen."

  • Nathan Robinson: Trump's Mount Rushmore speech was a grim preview of his re-election strategy.

  • Jeffrey Sachs: Keynes and the good life. Review of two recent books: Zachary D Carter: The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes, and James Crotty: Keynes Against Capitalism: His Economic Case for Liberal Socialism.

  • Dylan Scott: Covid-19 cases are rising, but deaths are falling. What's going on?

  • Alex Shephard: Mary Trump diagnoses the president: "A dark new family history from Donald Trump's niece may be the most intimate psychological portrait of him yet." Her book is Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man. She also happens to be a clinical psychologist, so sure she goes there. After considering the pathetic demise of Trump's older brother (Fred Trump Jr., Mary's father):

    Donald was the one Trump child who lived up to Fred Sr.'s expectations (he would also be the only one Fred Sr. would remember when suffering, late in life, from dementia). While the other Trump children gained little from their extremely wealthy father for most of his life (Maryanne, who became a federal judge, at one point was reduced to begging her mother for spare change), Donald was endlessly rewarded for his mendacity and aggression in the rough-and-tumble world of New York real estate. Fred Sr. showered his son with money, allowing him to create the illusion that he was self-made, a brilliant dealmaker. This phony personal brand would be the foundation of Donald's successful presidential campaign.

    Seems like I've heard that story before: sounds a lot like spree killer Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace, although Trump's money saved him from taking such a murderous turn. The review continues:

    But Donald, in Mary's telling, was the most wounded of the Trump children. He was also the most pathetic. He became profoundly needy as a result of childhood neglect but lacked the means of processing his emotions. He got stuck in an endless feedback loop of self-aggrandizement and self-loathing, seeking out sycophants to assure him that he really was great -- even though, deep down, he knew he was unloved and incapable of executing even the most basic tasks.

    This too is a familiar story: the basis of the recurring Seth Meyers features of exclusive access to the tiny voice in the back of Trump's head.

  • David Sirota: Trump's Labor Secretary is reaching cartoonish levels of supervillainry. Eugene Scalia.

  • Bhaskar Sunkara: Stop trying to fight racism with corporate diversity consultants: "Inclusivity seminars and books like White Fragility protect power; they don't challenge it. We're being hustled."

  • Margaret Talbot: The study that debunks most anti-abortion arguments.

  • Jeffrey Toobin: Why the Mueller investigation failed: "President Trump's obstructions of justice were broader than those of Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton, and the special counsel's investigation proved it. How come the report didn't say so?" This is a substantial article covering the Mueller investigation and Attorney General William Barr's handling of the report. Presumably it's related to Toobin's new book, True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump, out August 4.

    According to the Administration, Mueller and his team displayed an unseemly eagerness to uncover crimes that never existed. In fact, the opposite is true. Mueller had an abundance of legitimate targets to investigate, and his failures emerged from an excess of caution, not of zeal. Especially when it came to Trump, Mueller avoided confrontations that he should have welcomed. He never issued a grand-jury subpoena for the President's testimony, and even though his office built a compelling case for Trump's having committed obstruction of justice, Mueller came up with reasons not to say so in his report. In light of this, Trump shouldn't be denouncing Mueller -- he should be thanking him.

  • David Wallace-Wells: America is refusing to learn how to fight the coronavirus.

  • Laura Weiss: How America exports police violence around the world.

  • Philip Weiss:

  • Conor P Williams: To DeVos, the virus is an excuse to strip public money from public schools: "The policy is in line with conservative goals of converting public dollars into private K-12 scholarships." More on DeVos:

  • Robin Wright: Trump's impeachment revenge: Alexander Vindman is bullied into retiring.

  • Matthew Yglesias:

There's also this: A letter on justice and open debate. It appeared in Harper's, and was signed by 152 people, mostly authors, between a third and a half names I readily recognize. Unfortunately, half of those I recognize mostly for their support of American (and often Israeli) military ventures abroad and/or their propensity to attack the left (often including Sanders supporters within the Democratic Party). This adds an air of disingenuity to what otherwise appears to be an innocuous (albeit deliberately vague) defense of free speech. The middle paragraph could offer some clues if you could map the unnamed censorious forces seeking to punish the unnamed actors for their unspecified offenses: although Trump is the only named threat, I wouldn't be surprised to find many more worried by what the left might provoke than by what the right actually does, and some may even fear winding up on the wrong side of justice. Take Yascha Mounk's tweet, for example:

If the crazy attempts to shame and fire people for signing this reasonably anodyne letter don't convince you that our current intellectual atmosphere is deeply unhealthy, then you're more invested in parroting the propagandistic line of the moment than in acknowledging the truth.

Tom Scocca replied:

The use of "shame and fire" here is the whole damn game. Treating them as interchangeable is, in fact, a cynical attack on free discourse.

Osita Nwanevu's piece on "reactionary liberalism" (see above) fits in here, without actually making the connection. Many of the signatories fit that mold, and they're the main reason people like myself have taken exception to the letter. I actually share a wariness about overly harsh and arbitrary punishments.

Also relevant here is Alex Shephard: The problem with Yascha Mounk's Persuasion, which does discuss the Harper's letter.

Persuasion has the feel of a club of no-longer-coddled elites, banded together in an attempt to maintain their status in a rapidly changing world. At this point, it doesn't seem to be about changing minds. It may be dressed up as a new institution for promoting a free society, but so far its cause célčbre is the process by which op-eds are published. Liberalism deserves better.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Daily Log

Tweet in response to Maura Johnston's tweet about a Harper's Letter on Justice:

What's the point here? Complain as vaguely as possible? Cast shade on anyone who gets too worked up over injustice? With few exceptions, an imposing list of right-center intellectuals in defense of moral high ground they profit from but rarely do any good with.

Ballot from the JazzTimes poll for best album of the 1990s, with my grades (!indicates grade added after first pass):

  • Geri Allen: The Nurturer (Blue Note, 1990) [+]
  • Bob Belden: Treasure Island (Sunnyside, 1990) []
  • Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: Groove Shop (Capri, 1990) []
  • Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Black Science (Novus, 1990) []
  • Charlie Haden: Dream Keeper (Blue Note, 1990) [A-]
  • Roy Hargrove: Diamond in the Rough (RCA, 1990) []
  • Abbey Lincoln: The World Is Falling Down (Verve, 1990) [B]
  • Pat Metheny/Dave Holland/Roy Haynes: Question and Answer (Geffen, 1990) []
  • Don Pullen: Random Thoughts (Blue Note, 1990) [A-]
  • Marcus Roberts: Deep in the Shed (RCA, 1990) []
  • Renee Rosnes: For the Moment (Blue Note, 1990) []
  • John Scofield: Time on My Hands (Blue Note, 1990) [+]
  • Various Artists: Music from Mo' Better Blues (Sony, 1990) []
  • Kenny Wheeler: Music for Large & Small Ensembles (ECM, 1990) [B]
  • Mark Whitfield: The Marksman (Warner Bros., 1990) []
  • John Zorn: Naked City (Nonesuch, 1990) [B]
  • Gerald Albright: Live at Birdland West (Atlantic, 1991) []
  • Arthur Blythe: Hipmotism (Enja, 1991) []
  • Jane Bunnett: Spirits of Havana (Denon, 1991) []
  • Harry Connick, Jr.: Blue Light, Red Light (Columbia, 1991) []
  • Miles Davis & Quincy Jones: Live at Montreux (Warner Bros., 1991) []
  • Béla Fleck & the Flecktones: Flight of the Cosmic Hippo (Warner Bros., 1991) []
  • Stan Getz/Kenny Barron: People Time (A&M, 1991) [A]
  • Julius Hemphill: Fat Man and the Hard Blues (Black Saint, 1991) [+]
  • Kenny Kirkland: Kenny Kirkland (GRP, 1991) []
  • Abbey Lincoln: You Gotta Pay the Band (Verve, 1991) [B-]
  • Jean-Luc Ponty: Tchokola (Epic, 1991) []
  • Don Pullen & the African-Brazilian Connection: Kele Mou Bana (Blue Note, 1991) [A-]
  • Dianne Reeves: I Remember (Blue Note, 1991) []
  • Wallace Roney: Obsession (Muse, 1991) [B]
  • Gonzalo Rubalcaba: The Blessing (Blue Note, 1991) [A-]
  • David Sanborn: Another Hand (Elektra, 1991) []
  • Arturo Sandoval: Flight to Freedom (GRP, 1991) []
  • Sonny Sharrock: Ask the Ages (Axiom, 1991) [A-]
  • Randy Weston: The Spirits of Our Ancestors (Verve, 1991) [A-]
  • Yellowjackets: Greenhouse (GRP, 1991) []
  • Geri Allen: Maroons (Blue Note, 1992) []
  • Tim Berne: Diminutive Mysteries (JMT, 1992) [B]
  • Terence Blanchard: The Malcolm X Suite (Columbia, 1992) [+]
  • The Brecker Brothers: Return of the Brecker Brothers (GRP, 1992) [B]
  • Don Byron: Tuskegee Experiments (Nonesuch, 1992) [+]
  • Paquito D'Rivera: Who's Smoking? (Candid, 1992) [B]
  • Kevin Eubanks: Turning Point (Blue Note, 1992) []
  • Bill Frisell: Have a Little Faith (Elektra, 1992) [B]
  • Joe Henderson: Lush Life (Verve, 1992) [+]
  • Shirley Horn: Here's to Life (Verve, 1992) []
  • Keith Jarrett: Vienna Concert (ECM, 1992) []
  • Charles Lloyd: Notes From Big Sur (ECM, 1992) [*]
  • Joe Lovano: Universal Language (Blue Note, 1992) [B]
  • Russell Malone: Russell Malone (Columbia, 1992) []
  • Medeski Martin & Wood: Notes from the Underground (Accurate, 1992) []
  • Gerry Mulligan: Rebirth of the Cool (GRP, 1992) []
  • Courtney Pine: To the Eyes of Creation (Island, 1992) []
  • John Scofield: Grace Under Pressure (Blue Note, 1992) [+]
  • Mike Stern: Standards and Other Songs (Atlantic, 1992) [+]
  • Dr. Billy Taylor: Mr. T (GRP, 1992) []
  • Gary Thomas: Till We Have Faces (JMT, 1992) [B]
  • David S. Ware: The Flight of I (Columbia, 1992) [A-]
  • Kenny Wheeler: Kayak (Ah Um, 1992) []
  • Tony Williams: The Story of Neptune (Blue Note, 1992) []
  • Steve Coleman and Five Elements: The Tao of Mad Phat: Fringe Zones (RCA Novus, 1993) [A-]
  • Dave Douglas: Parallel Worlds (Soul Note, 1993) [B]
  • Marty Ehrlich: Can You Hear a Motion? (Enja, 1993) [B]
  • Charles Gayle/William Parker/Rashied Ali: Touchin' on Trane (FMP, 1993) [A-]
  • Benny Green: That's Right (Blue Note, 1993) []
  • Antonio Hart: For Cannonball & Woody (RCA Novus, 1993) []
  • Joe Henderson: So Near, So Far (Musings for Miles) (Verve, 1993) [B]
  • Fred Hersch Trio: Dancing in the Dark (Chesky, 1993) [**]
  • Charlie Hunter Trio: Charlie Hunter Trio (Prawn Song, 1993) []
  • Keith Jarrett: Bye Bye Blackbird (ECM, 1993) []
  • Joe Lovano: Tenor Legacy (Blue Note, 1993) [A-]
  • Kevin Mahogany: Double Rainbow (Enja, 1993) []
  • Medeski Martin & Wood: It's a Jungle in Here (Gramavision, 1993) []
  • Marcus Miller: The Sun Don't Lie (PRA, 1993) []
  • Greg Osby: 3D Lifestyles (Blue Note, 1993) []
  • Joshua Redman: Wish (Warner Bros., 1993) [A-]
  • Sonny Rollins: Old Flames (Milestone, 1993) [**]
  • Renee Rosnes: Without Words (Blue Note, 1993) []
  • Henry Threadgill: Too Much Sugar for a Dime (Axiom, 1993) [B]
  • David S. Ware: Third Ear Recitation (DIW, 1993) [A-]
  • Bobby Watson: Tailor Made (Columbia, 1993) [B]
  • Randy Weston: Volcano Blues (Antilles, 1993) [+]
  • Cassandra Wilson: Blue Light 'Til Dawn (Blue Note, 1993) [B]
  • Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra: Desert Lady/Fantasy (Columbia, 1994) []
  • Geri Allen Trio: Twenty One (Blue Note, 1994) [+]
  • Ginger Baker Trio: Going Back Home (Atlantic, 1994) [+]
  • Black/Note: Jungle Music (Columbia, 1994) []
  • Peter Brötzmann/Toshinori Kondo/William Parker/Hamid Drake: Die Like a Dog (FMP, 1994) [B]
  • Ray Brown Trio: Don't Get Sassy (Telarc, 1994) []
  • James Carter: JC On the Set (DIW/Columbia, 1994) [A-]
  • Dave Douglas: In Our Lifetime (New World, 1994) [A-]
  • Sonny Fortune: Four in One (Blue Note, 1994) [A-]
  • Bill Frisell: This Land (Nonesuch, 1994) [+]
  • Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Tony Williams and Wallace Roney: A Tribute to Miles (Qwest, 1994) []
  • Roy Hargrove: With the Tenors of Our Time (Verve, 1994) [A-]
  • Franklin Kiermyer: Solomon's Daughter (Evidence, 1994) [B]
  • Danilo Pérez: The Journey (RCA, 1994) []
  • Joshua Redman Quartet: MoodSwing (Warner Bros., 1994) [+]
  • Pharoah Sanders: Crescent With Love (Evidence, 1994) [A-]
  • Maria Schneider: Evanescence (Enja, 1994) []
  • John Scofield: Hand Jive (Blue Note, 1994) [***]
  • Sonny Simmons: Ancient Ritual (Qwest, 1994) [+]
  • Henry Threadgill: Carry the Day (Columbia, 1994) [+]
  • Ernie Watts: Reaching Up (JVC, 1994) [+]
  • Eric Alexander/Lin Halliday: Stablemates (Delmark, 1995) []
  • Dee Dee Bridgewater: Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver (Verve, 1995) [A-]
  • Don Byron: Music for Six Musicians (Nonesuch, 1995) [A-]
  • Holly Cole: Temptation (Alert, 1995) []
  • Ornette Coleman: Tone Dialing (Harmolodic/Verve, 1995) [+]
  • Al Di Meola, Stanley Clarke and Jean-Luc Ponty: The Rite of Strings (Gai Saber, 1995) []
  • Kurt Elling: Close Your Eyes (Blue Note, 1995) [B]
  • Gateway: Homecoming (ECM, 1995) []
  • Joe Lovano: Rush Hour (Blue Note, 1995) [B]
  • Jim Hall: Dialogues (Telarc, 1995) []
  • Hannibal (Marvin Peterson): African Portraits (Teldec, 1995) [B-]
  • Tom Harrell: The Art of Rhythm (RCA, 1995) [A-]
  • Joe Henderson: Double Rainbow: The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim (Verve, 1995) [+]
  • Jon Hendricks: Boppin' at the Blue Note (Telarc, 1995) []
  • Dave Holland Quartet: Dream of the Elders (ECM, 1995) [+]
  • Charlie Hunter: Bing, Bing, Bing! (Blue Note, 1995) []
  • Abbey Lincoln: A Turtle's Dream (Verve, 1995) [+]
  • Kevin Mahogany: You Got What It Takes (Enja, 1995) []
  • Christian McBride: Gettin' To It (Verve, 1995) [A-]
  • John McLaughlin: The Promise (Verve, 1995) [B]
  • Greg Osby: Black Book (Blue Note, 1995) []
  • Sun Ra: Second Star to the Right: A Salute to Walt Disney (Leo, 1995) [***]
  • Renee Rosnes: Ancestors (Blue Note, 1995) [+]
  • David Sanchez: Sketches of Dreams (Columbia, 1995) [+]
  • Wayne Shorter: High Life (Verve, 1995) [C+]
  • Henry Threadgill: Makin' a Move (Columbia, 1995) [+]
  • Ralph Towner: Lost and Found (ECM, 1995) []
  • Cassandra Wilson: New Moon Daughter (Blue Note, 1995) [B]
  • Michael Brecker: Tales From the Hudson (GRP, 1996) []
  • Don Byron: Bug Music (Nonesuch, 1996) [+]
  • James Carter: Conversin' with the Elders (Atlantic, 1996) [A]
  • Herbie Hancock: The New Standard (Verve, 1996) [B]
  • Branford Marsalis: The Dark Keys (Columbia, 1996) []
  • William Parker: In Order to Survive (Black Saint, 1996) [A-] !
  • Danilo Pérez: Panamonk (Impulse!, 1996) [**]
  • Dianne Reeves: The Grand Encounter (Blue Note, 1996) []
  • Kenny Wheeler: Angel Song (ECM, 1996) [B]
  • Tony Williams: Wilderness (Ark 21, 1996) []
  • Joe Zawinul: My People (Escapade, 1996) []
  • Geri Allen: Some Aspects of Water (Storyville, 1997) []
  • Ray Brown/John Clayton/Christian McBride: SuperBass: Live at Scullers (Telarc, 1997) []
  • Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny: Beyond the Missouri Sky (Short Stories) (Verve, 1997) [+]
  • Holly Cole: Dark Dear Heart (Alert, 1997) []
  • Steve Coleman: The Sign and the Seal: Transmissions of the Metaphysics of a Culture (RCA, 1997) []
  • Chick Corea: Remembering Bud Powell (Stretch, 1997) [B]
  • Dave Douglas: Sanctuary (Avant, 1997) []
  • Kurt Elling: The Messenger (Blue Note, 1997) [*]
  • Kenny Garrett: Songbook (Warner Bros., 1997) [B]
  • Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter: 1+1 (Verve, 1997) []
  • Diana Krall: Love Scenes (GRP/Impulse!, 1997) [A-]
  • Wynton Marsalis: Blood on the Fields (Columbia, 1997) [B]
  • Pat Martino: All Sides Now (Blue Note, 1997) []
  • Pat Metheny Group: Imaginary Day (Warner Bros., 1997) [B-]
  • Greg Osby: Further Ado (Blue Note, 1997) [B]
  • William Parker & the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra: Sunrise in the Tone World (AUM Fidelity, 1997) [B]
  • Courtney Pine: Underground (Verve, 1997) []
  • John Pizzarelli: Our Love Is Here to Stay (RCA, 1997) []
  • Renee Rosnes: As We Are Now (Blue Note, 1997) [A-]
  • Matthew Shipp Trio with Joe Morris: Thesis (Hatology, 1997) [B]
  • Tomasz Stanko Septet: Litania: Music of Krzysztof Komeda (ECM, 1997) [A-]
  • Jane Ira Bloom: The Red Quartets (Arabesque, 1999) [***]
  • Michael Brecker: Two Blocks from the Edge (Impulse!, 1998) [B]
  • Don Byron: Nu Blaxploitation (Blue Note, 1998) [+]
  • Dave Douglas: Convergence (Soul Note, 1998) [+]
  • Charlie Haden and Kenny Barron: Night and the City (Verve, 1998) [A-]
  • Herbie Hancock: Gershwin's World (Verve, 1998) [B]
  • Shirley Horn: I Remember Miles (Verve, 1998) []
  • Joe Lovano: Trio Fascination: Edition One (Blue Note, 1998) [A-]
  • Russell Malone: Sweet Georgia Peach (Impulse!, 1998) []
  • Brad Mehldau: Songs: The Art of the Trio, Vol. 3 (Warner Bros., 1998) [+]
  • Greg Osby: Banned in New York (Blue Note, 1998) [+]
  • William Parker: The Peach Orchard (AUM Fidelity, 1998) [A]
  • Michel Petrucciani: Solo Live (Dreyfus, 1998) [+]
  • Joshua Redman: Timeless Tales (for Changing Times) (Warner Bros., 1998) [+]
  • Amon Tobin: Permutation (Ninja Tune, 1998) []
  • Kenny Wheeler: All the More (Soul Note, 1998) []
  • Matt Wilson: Going Once, Going Twice (Palmetto, 1998) [A-]
  • Denny Zeitlin Trio: As Long as There's Music (Venus, 1998) []
  • John Zorn: The Circle Maker (Tzadik, 1998) []
  • John Abercrombie: Open Land (ECM, 1999) []
  • Bablicon: In a Different City (Misra, 1999) []
  • The Cinematic Orchestra: Motion (Ninja Tune, 1999) []
  • Steve Coleman and Five Elements: The Sonic Language of Myth: Believing, Learning, Knowing (RCA, 1999) []
  • Charlie Haden Quartet West: The Art of the Song (PolyGram, 1999) [B-]
  • Jim Hall & Pat Metheny: Jim Hall & Pat Metheny (Telarc, 1999) []
  • Dave Holland Quintet: Prime Directive (ECM, 1999) [A-]
  • Keith Jarrett: The Melody at Night, With You (ECM, 1999) [+]
  • Diana Krall: When I Look in Your Eyes (Verve, 1999) []
  • Brad Mehldau: Elegiac Cycle (Warner Bros., 1999) [+]
  • Jason Moran: Soundtrack to Human Motion (Blue Note, 1999) [A-]
  • William Parker: Posium Pendasem (FMP, 1999) []
  • Renee Rosnes: Art & Soul (Blue Note, 1999) []
  • Bobby Watson: Quiet as It's Kept (RED, 1999) [A-]
  • Cassandra Wilson Traveling Miles (Blue Note, 1999) [+]

Total 198 records. Grade breakdown: A: 3; A-: 30; B+: 42 (including ***: 3, **: 3; *: 2), B: 32, B-: 4, C+: 1, unheard: 86 (43.4%).

[Moved the following here from a previous entry back in May.] Ballot from the JazzTimes poll above for best album of the 1980s, with my grades (!indicates grade added after first pass):

  • George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet: Earthbeams (Timeless, 1980) [A-]
  • The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Full Force (ECM, 1980) [***] !
  • George Benson: Give Me the Night (Warner Bros., 1980) []
  • Carla Bley: Social Studies (ECM, 1980) [*]
  • Herb Ellis: Trio (Concord, 1980) []
  • Joe Henderson: Mirror Mirror (MPS, 1980) [+]
  • Irakere: Irakere II (Columbia, 1980) []
  • Steve Kuhn: Playground (ECM, 1980) [***]
  • Pat Metheny: 80/81 (ECM, 1980) []
  • Mingus Dynasty: Chair in the Sky (Elektra, 1980) []
  • David Murray: Ming (Black Saint, 1980) [A]
  • Old and New Dreams: Playing (ECM, 1980) [***]
  • McCoy Tyner: Quartets 4 X 4 (Milestone, 1980) []
  • James Blood Ulmer: Are You Glad to Be in America? (Rough Trade, 1980) [+]
  • Grover Washington, Jr.: Winelight (Elektra, 1980) [B]
  • Art Blakey: Album of the Year (Timeless, 1981) [B]
  • Arthur Blythe: Blythe Spirit (Columbia, 1981) [***]
  • Lester Bowie: The Great Pretender (ECM, 1981) [+]
  • Chick Corea: Three Quartets (Stretch, 1981) []
  • Chick Corea Trio: Music (ECM, 1981) []
  • Al Jarreau: Breakin' Away (Warner Bros., 1981) []
  • John McLaughlin: Belo Horizonte (Warner Music Group, 1981) []
  • John McLaughlin/Al Di Meola/Paco DeLucia: Friday Night in San Francisco (Philips, 1981) [+]
  • Jaco Pastorius: Word of Mouth (Warner Bros., 1981) []
  • Oscar Peterson: Nigerian Marketplace (Pablo, 1981) []
  • Pharoah Sanders: Rejoice (Theresa, 1981) []
  • John Scofield: Shinola (Enja, 1981) []
  • Phil Woods: Birds of a Feather (Antilles, 1981) []
  • Monty Alexander: Triple Threat (Concord, 1982) []
  • The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Urban Bushmen (ECM, 1982) [+]
  • Ornette Coleman: Of Human Feelings (Antilles, 1982) [A]
  • Miles Davis: We Want Miles (CBS, 1982) []
  • Chico Freeman: Tradition in Transition (Elektra, 1982) [*]
  • Paquito D'Rivera: Mariel (Columbia, 1982) []
  • Herbie Hancock: Quartet (Columbia, 1982) []
  • Ronald Shannon Jackson: Mandance (Antilles, 1982) [+]
  • Paul Motian: Psalm (ECM, 1982) [***] !
  • Dewey Redman: The Struggle Continues (ECM, 1982) [*]
  • Woody Shaw: Master of the Art (Elektra, 1982) []
  • Sphere: Four in One (Elektra, 1982) []
  • Tim Berne: Mutant Variations (Soul Note, 1983) [***] !
  • Tommy Flanagan: Thelonica (Enja, 1983) [**] !
  • Herbie Hancock: Future Shock (Columbia, 1983) []
  • Freddie Hubbard: Sweet Return (Atlantic, 1983) []
  • Abdullah Ibrahim: Ekaya (Ekapa RPM, 1983) [A]
  • Keith Jarrett: Standards, Vol. 1 (ECM, 1983) [+]
  • Steve Lacy: The Door (RCA Novus, 1983) [U]
  • Wynton Marsalis: Think of One (Columbia, 1983) []
  • Oregon: Oregon (ECM, 1983) [B] !
  • Jamaaladeen Tacuma: Show Stopper (Gramavision, 1983) [+]
  • Kenny Wheeler: Double, Double You (ECM, 1983) [A-] !
  • Muhal Richard Abrams: Rejoicing With the Light (Black Saint, 1984) []
  • Geri Allen: The Printmakers (Minor Music, 1984) [***]
  • Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition: Album Album (ECM, 1984) [B]
  • The Heath Brothers: Brothers & Others (Antilles, 1984) []
  • Dave Holland Quintet: Jumpin' In (ECM, 1984) [B]
  • Wynton Marsalis: Hot House Flowers (Columbia, 1984) [B-]
  • Bobby McFerrin: The Voice (Elektra/Musician, 1984) []
  • Pat Metheny Group: First Circle (ECM, 1984) []
  • Tito Puente: El Rey (Concord Picante, 1984) []
  • James Williams: Alter Ego (Sunnyside, 1984) []
  • George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vols. 1 & 2 (Soul Note, 1985) [A-] [+]
  • Ray Anderson: Old Bottles, New Wine (Enja, 1985) [A-]
  • Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy: The Great Pretender (ECM, 1985) [***] ! -- probably I Only Have Eyes for You; The Great Pretender was a 1981 album, also on ECM
  • Larry Coryell and Emily Remler: Together (Concord, 1985) []
  • James Newton: The African Flower (Blue Note, 1985) []
  • Bill Frisell: Rambler (ECM, 1985) []
  • Dave Holland Quintet: Seeds (ECM, 1985) []
  • Sheila Jordan: The Crossing (Black Hawk, 1985) [+]
  • The Mel Lewis Orchestra: 20 Years at the Village Vanguard (Atlantic, 1985) []
  • Carmen Lundy: Good Morning Kiss (Black Hawk, 1985) []
  • Manhattan Transfer: Vocalese (Atlantic, 1985) []
  • Wynton Marsalis: Black Codes (From the Underground) (Columbia, 1985) [+]
  • Frank Morgan: Easy Living (OJC, 1985) [***] !
  • Odean Pope: The Saxophone Shop (Soul Note, 1985) [***] !
  • Wayne Shorter: Atlantis (Columbia, 1985) []
  • Cedar Walton: The Trio, Vols. 1-3 (Soul Note, 1985) []
  • Tony Williams: Foreign Intrigue (Blue Note, 1985) []
  • George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet: Breakthrough (Blue Note, 1986) [A+]
  • Kenny Barron: What If? (Enja, 1986) []
  • Tim Berne: Fulton Street Maul (Columbia, 1986) []
  • Joanne Brackeen: Fifi Goes to Heaven (Concord, 1986) [B]
  • Chick Corea: Elektric Band (GRP, 1986) []
  • Hank Crawford: Soul Survivors (Milestone, 1986) []
  • Miles Davis: Tutu (Warner Bros., 1986) [B]
  • Kenny G: Duotones (Arista, 1986) []
  • Joe Henderson: State of the Tenor, Vols. 1 & 2 (Blue Note, 1986) [A-]
  • Bob James and David Sanborn: Double Vision (Warner Bros., 1986) []
  • Marc Johnson: Bass Desires (ECM, 1986) []
  • The Leaders: Mudfoot (Black Hawk, 1986) [A-]
  • Bobby McFerrin: Spontaneous Inventions (Elektra/Musician, 1986) []
  • Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman: Song X (Geffen, 1986) [A]
  • Mulgrew Miller: Work (Landmark, 1986) []
  • Michel Petrucciani: Pianism (Blue Note, 1986) [+]
  • Michel Petrucciani: Power of Three (Blue Note, 1986) [+]
  • Max Roach: Bright Moments (Soul Note, 1986) [B]
  • Poncho Sanchez: Papa Gato (Concord, 1986) []
  • John Scofield: Blue Matter (Gramavision, 1986) [*]
  • Wayne Shorter: Phantom Navigator (Columbia, 1986) []
  • Jimmy Smith: Go for Whatcha Know (Blue Note, 1986) []
  • Cecil Taylor: For Olim (Soul Note, 1986) [B]
  • Tony Williams: Civilization (Blue Note, 1986) []
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Plays Duke Ellington (Elektra, 1986) [C+]
  • Michael Brecker: Michael Brecker (MCA/Impulse!, 1987) [B]
  • Bill Bruford's Earthworks: Earthworks (EG, 1987) [+]
  • Ornette Coleman: In All Languages (Caravan of Dreams, 1987) [A]
  • Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition: Irresistible Forces (MCA, 1987) [U]
  • Charlie Haden: Quartet West (Verve, 1987) [**]
  • Charlie Haden/Geri Allen/Paul Motian: Etudes (Soul Note, 1987) [A-] !
  • Dave Holland: Razor's Edge (ECM, 1987) []
  • Dave Liebman: Homage to John Coltrane (Owl, 1987) []
  • Branford Marsalis: Random Abstract (Columbia, 1987) []
  • Carmen McRae and Betty Carter: Duets (Great American Music Hall, 1987) [**]
  • Pat Metheny Group: Still Life (Talking) (Geffen, 1987) []
  • Greg Osby: Sound Theater (JMT, 1987) []
  • Oscar Peterson: With Harry Edison and Eddie Vinson (Pablo, 1987) []
  • Courtney Pine: Journey to the Urge Within (Verve, 1987) [B]
  • Power Tools: Strange Meeting (Antilles, 1987) []
  • Sonny Rollins: G-Man (Milestone, 1987) [A+]
  • Marvin "Smitty" Smith: Keeper of the Drums (Concord, 1987) []
  • David Torn: Cloud About Mercury (ECM, 1987) []
  • McCoy Tyner: Blues for Coltrane (Impulse!, 1987) []
  • Joe Williams: Every Night (Verve, 1987) []
  • John Blake: New Beginnings (Gramavision, 1988) []
  • Michael Brecker: Don't Try This at Home (Impulse!, 1988) []
  • Betty Carter: Look What I Got (Bet-Car/Verve, 1988) []
  • Don Cherry: Art Deco (A&M, 1988) [A-]
  • Stanley Clarke: If This Bass Could Talk (Portrait, 1988) []
  • Jerry Gonzalez: Rumba Para Monk (Sunnyside, 1988) [+]
  • Julius Hemphill: Big Band (Elektra/Musician, 1988) [**]
  • Joe Lovano: Village Rhythm (Soul Note, 1988) []
  • Jackie McLean: Dynasty (Triloka, 1988) [A-]
  • Carmen McRae: Carmen Sings Monk (RCA, 1988) [A-]
  • David Murray: Ming's Samba (Portrait, 1988) [+]
  • Music Revelation Ensemble: Music Revelation Ensemble (DIW, 1988) []
  • Don Pullen: New Beginnings (Blue Note, 1988) [A]
  • Wayne Shorter: Joy Ryder (Columbia, 1988) []
  • Take 6: Take 6 (Reprise, 1988) []
  • Toots Thielemans: Only Trust Your Heart (Concord, 1988) []
  • McCoy Tyner Revelations (Blue Note, 1988) [+]
  • Grover Washington, Jr.: Then and Now (Columbia, 1988) []
  • Bobby Watson: No Question About It (Blue Note, 1988) []
  • Cassandra Wilson: Blue Skies (JMT, 1988) [**]
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Rhythm and Blues (Elektra, 1988) [B-]
  • George Adams: America (Blue Note, 1989) []
  • Geri Allen: In the Year of the Dragon (JMT, 1989) []
  • George Benson: Tenderly (Warner Bros., 1989) []
  • Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: Grooves Up (Capri, 1989) []
  • Harry Connick, Jr.: When Harry Met Sally . . . (Columbia, 1989) []
  • Chick Corea: Akoustic Band (GRP, 1989) []
  • Miles Davis: Amandla (Warner Bros., 1989) [+]
  • Gene Harris: Listen Here! (Concord, 1989) []
  • Andrew Hill: Eternal Spirit (Blue Note, 1989) [A-]
  • Christopher Hollyday: Christopher Hollyday (RCA, 1989) []
  • Shirley Horn: Close Enough for Love (Verve, 1989) []
  • Branford Marsalis: Trio Jeepy (Columbia, 1989) []
  • Jean-Luc Ponty: Storytelling (Columbia, 1989) []
  • Sun Ra & His Intergalaxtic Arkestra: Second Star to the Right (Salute to Walt Disney) (Leo, 1989) [***]
  • Marcus Roberts: The Truth Is Spoken Here (RCA/Novus, 1989) []
  • Gary Thomas: By Any Means Necessary (JMT, 1989) []
  • Tony Williams: Native Heart (Blue Note, 1989) []
  • Yellowjackets: The Spin (MCA, 1989) []

Their 1970s poll ballot has vanished, but I managed to scrape the results from Google's cache (ordered by votes, my grades in brackets):

  1. Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970) [A-]
  2. Herbie Hancock: Head Hunters (Columbia, 1973) [+]
  3. Chick Corea: Return to Forever (ECM, 1972) [A-]
  4. Keith Jarrett: The Köln Concert (ECM, 1975) [A-]
  5. Weather Report: Heavy Weather (Columbia, 1977) [B-]
  6. Pat Metheny: Bright Size Life (ECM, 1976) []
  7. Freddie Hubbard: Red Clay (CTI, 1970) [A-]
  8. Jaco Pastorius: Jaco Pastorius (Epic, 1976) [+]
  9. Miles Davis: A Tribute to Jack Johnson (Columbia, 1971) [A+]
  10. Weather Report: Weather Report (Columbia, 1971) [B]
  11. George Benson: Breezin' (Warner Bros., 1976) [B]
  12. The Mahavishnu Orchestra: The Inner Mounting Flame (Columbia, 1971) [A]
  13. Dave Holland: Conference of the Birds (ECM, 1973) [A]
  14. Charlie Haden: Liberation Music Orchestra (Impulse!, 1970) [+]
  15. The Mahavishnu Orchestra: Birds of Fire (Columbia, 1973) [+]
  16. Return to Forever: Light as a Feather (Polydor, 1973) [B]
  17. Wayne Shorter: Native Dancer (Columbia, 1975) [B-]
  18. Miles Davis: On the Corner (Columbia, 1972) [***]
  19. Weather Report: Black Market (Columbia, 1976) []
  20. Grover Washington Jr.: Mister Magic (Kudu, 1975) [B]
  21. Bill Evans: The Bill Evans Album (Columbia, 1971) []
  22. Weather Report: Mysterious Traveller (Columbia, 1974) [B]
  23. Joe Pass: Virtuoso (Pablo, 1973) [+]
  24. Charles Mingus: Changes One & Two (Atlantic, 1974) [A] [A-]
  25. Dexter Gordon: Homecoming (Columbia, 1976) [A-]
  26. Ornette Coleman: Science Fiction (Columbia, 1971) [A-] -- expanded reissue
  27. Return to Forever: Romantic Warrior (Columbia, 1976) [C+]
  28. Bill Evans/Tony Bennett: The Bill Evans/Tony Bennett Album (Fantasy, 1975) [+]
  29. Charles Mingus: Let My Children Hear Music (Columbia, 1972) [C+]
  30. Stanley Turrentine: Sugar (CTI, 1970) [A-]
  31. Herbie Hancock: Mwandishi (Columbia, 1971) [B] -- expanded reissue
  32. Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson: Ella and Oscar (Pablo, 1975) [*]
  33. Keith Jarrett: Belonging (ECM, 1974) [A]
  34. Keith Jarrett: My Song (ECM, 1978) [A-]
  35. Oscar Peterson/Joe Pass/Niels-Henning Řrsted Pedersen: The Trio (Pablo, 1974) []
  36. V.S.O.P.: The Quintet (Columbia, 1977) []
  37. Stan Getz: Captain Marvel (Columbia, 1972) []
  38. Old and New Dreams: Old and New Dreams (ECM, 1979) [**]
  39. Al Jarreau: Look to the Rainbow (Warner Bros., 1977) [C+]
  40. Woody Shaw: Rosewood (Columbia, 1978) [**]
  41. John McLaughlin & Carlos Santana: Love Devotion Surrender (Columbia, 1973) []
  42. Stanley Clarke: School Days (Nemperor, 1976) [C+]
  43. Carla Bley: Escalator Over the Hill (JCOA, 1971) [B]
  44. Jack DeJohnette: New Directions (ECM, 1978) [*]
  45. Grover Washington Jr.: Inner City Blues (Kudu, 1972) [*]
  46. Freddie Hubbard: Straight Life (CTI, 1971) [***]
  47. Paul Desmond: Pure Desmond (CTI, 1974) [B]
  48. Julius Hemphill: Dogon A.D. (Mbari, 1972) [A-]
  49. McCoy Tyner: Trident (Milestone, 1975) []
  50. Sarah Vaughan: The Duke Ellington Songbook, Vols. 1 & 2 (Pablo, 1979) [***] [**]
  51. George Benson: Beyond the Blue Horizon (CTI, 1971) [*]
  52. John McLaughlin: My Goal's Beyond (Douglas, 1971) []
  53. Shakti: Shakti With John McLaughlin (Columbia, 1976) [***]
  54. Betty Carter: The Audience with Betty Carter (Bet-Car, 1979) [B-]
  55. The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Nice Guys (ECM, 1978) [***] !
  56. Bill Evans: Alone Again (Fantasy, 1975) []
  57. Weather Report: 8:30 (Columbia, 1979) []
  58. The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Les Stances a Sophie (Nessa, 1970) []
  59. McCoy Tyner: Echoes of a Friend (Milestone, 1972) []
  60. Cecil Taylor: Silent Tongues (Arista, 1974) [A-]
  61. Sarah Vaughan: Send in the Clowns (Mainstream, 1974) []
  62. Art Pepper: The Trip (Contemporary, 1976) [+]
  63. Lee Ritenour: Captain Fingers (Epic, 1977) []
  64. Joe Henderson: In Pursuit of Blackness (Milestone, 1971) []
  65. Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass: Fitzgerald & Pass . . . Again (Pablo, 1976) []
  66. McCoy Tyner: Supertrios (Milestone, 1977) []
  67. Stanley Clarke: Journey to Love (Nemperor, 1975) []
  68. Air: Air Lore (Arista Novus, 1979) [A]
  69. Sonny Rollins: Next Album (Milestone, 1972) [+]
  70. Sonny Rollins: Don't Stop the Carnival (Milestone, 1978) []
  71. Herbie Hancock: Herbie Hancock Trio (CBS, 1977) []
  72. Dexter Gordon: Bouncin' with Dex (SteepleChase, 1975) []
  73. The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Fanfare for the Warriors (Atlantic, 1973) [B-]
  74. Ornette Coleman/Charlie Haden: Soapsuds, Soapsuds (Horizon, 1977) [+]
  75. George Benson: Good King Bad (CTI, 1976) []
  76. Charlie Haden: Closeness (Horizon, 1976) [+]
  77. Tony Williams: The Joy of Flying (Columbia, 1979) []
  78. Ron Carter: Piccolo (Milestone, 1977) []
  79. Sonny Rollins: Easy Living (Milestone, 1977) []
  80. The Heath Brothers: Passin' Through (Columbia, 1978) []
  81. Bill Evans with the George Russell Orchestra: Living Time (Columbia, 1972) []
  82. Ron Carter: Peg Leg (Milestone, 1978) []

Monday, July 06, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33567 [33526] rated (+41), 212 [211] unrated (+1).

I've been ambivalent about adding mid-year lists to the metacritic file. Last couple years I actually started with those lists, but this year I've been collecting ratings pretty extensively, so the current file should provide you with a fairly accurate account of critical consensus on records so far. More importantly, the method should continue to work week in, week out through the end of the year. Right now, the ratings (with points in braces, and, where available, my grades in brackets):

  1. Run the Jewels: RTJ4 (Jewel Runners/RBC/BMG) {58} [A-]
  2. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters (Epic) {54} [A-]
  3. Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud (Merge) {46} [A-]
  4. Bob Dylan: Rough and Rowdy Ways (Columbia) {40} [A-]
  5. Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher (Dead Oceans) {38} [**]
  6. Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia (Warner) {34} [A-]
  7. Lucinda Williams: Good Souls Better Angels (Highway 20) {34} [A-]
  8. Haim: Women in Music Pt III (Columbia) {33} [**]
  9. Perfume Genius: Set My Heart on Fire Immediately (Matador) {31} [*]
  10. Caribou: Suddenly (Merge) {30} [**]
  11. Tame Impala: The Slow Rush (Interscope) {28} [*]
  12. Drive-By Truckers: The Unraveling (ATO) {27} [A-]
  13. Thundercat: It Is What It Is (Brainfeeder) {27} [B]
  14. Jessie Ware: What's Your Pleasure? (Interscope) {26} [***]
  15. Shabaka and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here by History (Impulse!) {25} [A-]
  16. Soccer Mommy: Color Theory (Loma Vista) {25} [***]
  17. Yves Tumor: Heaven to a Tortured Mind(Warp) {25} [**]
  18. Charli XCX: How I'm Feeling Now (Asylum) {25} [***]
  19. Moses Sumney: Grae (Jagjaguwar) {23} [B]
  20. Gil Scott-Heron: We're New Again: A Reimagining by Makaya McCraven (XL) {22} [**]
  21. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene (4AD) {22} [***]
  22. Lady Gaga: Chromatica (Interscope) {21} [***]
  23. Pearl Jam: Gigaton (Monkeywrench/Republic) {20} []
  24. Jehnny Beth: To Love Is to Live (Caroline) {19} [*]
  25. Cornershop: England Is a Garden (Ample Play) {19} [A-]
  26. Destroyer: Have We Met (Merge) {19} [*]
  27. Halsey: Manic (Capitol) {19} [***]
  28. Laura Marling: Song for Our Daughter (Chrysalis/Partisan) {19} [**]
  29. Mac Miller: Circles (Warner) {19} [A-]
  30. Rina Sawayama: Sawayama (Dirty Hit) {19} [B-]
  31. US Girls: Heavy Light (4AD) {19} [B-]
  32. Hayley Williams: Petals of Armor (Atlantic) {19} [*]

Well, it's skewed somewhat. Some of the lists I monitor are from friendly sources, and that moves the consensus a bit toward things that are more likely to interest me. Also, I don't skip sources that focus exclusively on metal or classical, though I occasionally pick up samples of each from elsewhere. The idea is less to sample public opinion than it is to sift through it to find things that might be interesting to review. And while this top-32 (despite the numbers, everything from 24-32 are tied). But I also feel entitled to add in some points myself (matching the points for Robert Christgau's grades; all other sources are treated as one point each mention as noted in the legend).

I skewed the results further by adding in mid-year lists scraped from the Expert Witness Facebook group, comments to a July 2 post. I picked up lists from: Steve Alter, Kevin Bozelka, Jeffrey D. Callahan, Joey Daniewicz, Chris Gray, Paul Hayden, Eric Johnson, Tom Lane, Brad Luen, Eric Marcus, Greg Morton, Stan Piccirilli, Harden Smith, John Speranza, Thomas Walker, plus a few bits from others I had already been following (especially Chris Monsen). In compiling these lists, I've omitted records that didn't qualify by my relaxed 2020 standards (which include all December 2019 releases and any other 2019 releases that didn't appear in my 2019 EOY aggregate). Also note that the lists almost always identify records by artist name only, so I had to guess here and there. (Old releases I didn't tally were: Constantinople & Ablaye Cissoko, Kefaya + Elaha Soroor, Jeffrey Lewis & the Voltage, Post Malone, Red Velvet, Matana Roberts, Kalie Shorr.)

All this skewing probably contributed to me grading 10 (of 32) records A-, 6 more B+(***). If you subtract my points, Christgau's, the Expert Witness lists, Monsen, Phil Overeem, and Tim Niland, the list would run: Phoebe Bridgers {33}, Run the Jewels {32}, Fiona Apple/Haim {31}, Perfume Genius/Waxahatchie {30}, Caribou {28}, Bob Dylan/Tame Impala {27}, Thundercat {25}, Dua Lipa {24}, Yves Tumor/Charli XCX {22}, Moses Sumney {21}, Pearl Jam/Soccer Mommy {20}, US Girls/Jessie Ware {19}.

The new records below mostly came from the Expert Witness lists -- expecially from Monsen (6). The other big block is a bunch of records by the late Freddy Cole. I've long recommended two later records -- The Dreamer in Me (2009) and Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B (2010) -- so I was especially surprised to find my favorite among the rest was his 1964 debut. Milt Hinton and Osie Johnson are names I know well, but this also made me want to explore saxophonist Sam "The Man" Taylor. He recorded quite a bit, but only has one compilation on Napster, and I passed on it due to lack of discography.

Ennio Morricone (91) has died. He was possibly the most famous soundtrack composer of the last 50-60 years. I've always harbored an active dislike for soundtrack albums, which is probably why I've never delved into his, despite much enjoying his music in the context of the movies. I can recommend his 1987 compilation on Virgin, Film Music, Volume 1.

Another recent death was English bassist Simon H. Fell (61), another musician I've heard very little from. I dutifully listed 12 of his titles, all highly touted by Penguin Guide, in my shopping list/database, but never found a one of them, so I've only heard one more recent album -- SFE (2011, Clean Feed) [B+(***)]. That's not likely to change much. I see that selections from most of his albums are available on Bandcamp, but none complete enough for me to review.

I am toying with the idea of taking notes on fractional albums, since that would seem to offer a way to glimpse much of the work that I find currently inaccessible. I currently use U to designate records that I possess a copy of but haven't graded yet. I'm tempted to add a new U+ for records I've only heard part of but would like to hear more, and U- for records I've heard enough of to doubt any further interest. One reason I haven't done this is that I'm not sure how the programs would deal with the introduction of a new grade. I wouldn't want to count U+ or U- albums as graded, or as ungraded (a number I've been trying to whittle down, without much success lately).

One question in the queue, which I'll probably get to this week. By all means, please ask more.

New records reviewed this week:

  • 6lack: 6pc Hot EP (2020, Interscope, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Juhani Aaltonen/Jonas Kullhammar/Christian Meaas Svendsen/Ilmari Heikinheimo: The Father, the Sons & the Junnu (2019 [2020], Moserobie): [cd]: A-
  • Aardvark Jazz Orchestra: Faces of Souls (2015-19 [2020], Leo): [r]: B+(*)
  • Aksak Maboul: Figures (2020, Crammed Discs): [r]: B+(**)
  • James Carney Sextet: Pure Heart (2020, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(***)
  • Drakeo the Ruler: Thank You for Using GTL (2020, Stinc Team): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hegge: Feeling (2020, Particular): [r]: B+(***)
  • Derrick Hodge: Color of Noize (2020, Blue Note): [r]: B
  • John Pĺl Inderberg Trio: Radio Inderberg (2019 [2020], AMP Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Edward "Kidd" Jordan/Joel Futterman/William Parker/Hamid Drake: A Tribute to Alvin Fielder: Live at Vision Festival XXIV (2019 [2020], Mahakala Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Machine Girl: U-Void Synthesizer (2020, 1818199 DK2): [r]: B-
  • Nicole Mitchell/Lisa E. Harris: Earthseed (2017 [2020], FPE): [r]: C-
  • Noshir Mody: An Idealist's Handbook: Identity, Love and Hope in America 2020 (2020, self-released): [cd]: B
  • Hedvig Mollestad: Ekhidna (2020, Rune Grammofon): [r]: A-
  • Willie Nelson: First Rose of Spring (2020, Legacy): [r]: B+(***)
  • Pere Ubu: By Order of Mayor Pawlicki: Live in Jarocin (2017 [2020], Cherry Red): [r]: B+(**)
  • Francis Quinlan: Likewise (2020, Saddle Creek): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jorge Roeder: El Suelo Mio (2020, T-Town): [r]: B+(*)
  • Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen: Hold My Beer, Vol. 2 (2020, Lil' Buddy Toons): [r]: B+(*)
  • Claire Rousay: A Heavenly Touch (2020, Already Dead): [r]: B
  • Sault: Untitled (Black Is) (2020, Forever Living Originals): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Řyvind Skarbř/Fredrik Ljungkvist/Kris Davis/Ole Morten Vĺgan: Inland Empire (2016 [2020], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Stephane Spira/Giovanni Mirabassi: Improkofiev (2020, Jazzmax): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Grant Stewart Quartet: Rise and Shine (2019 [2020], Cellar Live): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jessie Ware: What's Your Pleasure? (2020, Interscope): [r]: B+(***)
  • Bobby Watson: Keepin' It Real (2020, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B
  • Westside Gunn: Flygod Is an Awesome God II (2020, Griselda): [r]: B+(*)
  • Hailey Whitters: The Dream (2020, Pigasus): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • The Mark Harvey Group: A Rite for All Souls (1971 [2020], Americas Musicworks, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***) [07-17]

Old music:

  • Freddy Cole: "Waiter, Ask the Man to Play the Blues": Freddy Cole Plays & Sings Some Lonely Ballads (1964, Dot): [r]: A-
  • Freddy Cole: The Cole Nobody Knows (1973, First Shot): [r]: B
  • Freddy Cole: One More Love Song (1978, Poker): [r]: B
  • Freddy Cole: I'm Not My Brother, I'm Me (1990 [2004], High Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Freddy Cole: This Is the Life (1993 [2003], Savoy Jazz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Freddy Cole: To the Ends of the Earth (1997, Fantasy): [r]: B+(**)
  • Freddy Cole: Love Makes the Changes (1998, Fantasy): [r]: B+(***)
  • Freddy Cole: Le Grand Freddy: Freddy Cole Sings the Music of Michel Legrand (1994-99 [1999], Fantasy): [r]: B+(**)
  • Freddy Cole: This Love of Mine (2005, High Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Freddy Cole: He Was the King (2016, High Note): [r]: B+(*)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Gregory Dudzienski Quartet: Beautiful Moments (OA2) [07-17]
  • Bartosz Hadala Group: Three Short Stories (Zecernia)
  • Jeremy Levy Jazz Orchestra: The Planets: Reimagined (OA2) [07-17]
  • Quinsin Nachoff: Pivotal Arc (Whirlwind) [08-07]
  • Owl Xounds Exploding Galaxy: The Coalescence (ESP-Disk)
  • Soft Machine: Live at the Baked Potato (Moonjune)

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

The Wichita Eagle doesn't publish a paper edition on Saturdays any more, so I had to scrounge around for something to read with breakfast. Picked up the 4 June 2020 London Review of Books, and started reading Eliot Weinberg's lead article, "The American Virus":

As confirmed American coronavirus deaths pass 67,000, the president declares, in an interview with Fox News held inside the Lincoln Memorial, where events are traditionally banned: "They always said nobody got treated worse than Lincoln. I believe I am treated worse." A Twitter wit writes that, for the massive marble sculpture looming above, "It was the second worst thing Lincoln ever watched."

Internal White House documents predict three thousand American deaths a day by the end off May. The president weeets: "Getting great reviews, finally, for how well we are handling the pandemic." He retweets that the Trump Turnberry golf course has been named by Golf World magazine as the best golf course in the UK and Ireland for 2020. . . .

Republicans continue the fight against voting by mail. (The president has said that if this were universally allowed, "you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again," though he himself mails in his ballot.) In Wisconsin in April, the Republican-majority Supreme Court had demanded that voters appear in person, leading to a spike in infections. In Texas, which permits voting by mail for the ill, the attorney general rules that fear of Covid-19 is an "emotional reaction . . . and does not, by itself, amount to a 'sickness.'"

Signs at the many protests at state capitols against the lockdown, where crowds wave Confederate and "Don't Tread on Me" flags and (legally) carry assault riffles:


In the ten days after the Republican governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, reopens gyms, spas, hair salons, tattoo parlours and other essential services, confirmed coronavirus cases in the state rise by 42 per cent.

Of course, this is one news, but not very old. The death count has nearly doubled since this was written (132,000 on Saturday; the 67,000 figure dates to April 25). The anti-lockdown demonstrations receded as all states followed Georgia in re-opening non-essential businesses, mostly with the same increase in infections. One thing that hasn't changed is Trump's fetish for large statues, once again selecting a large stone Lincoln for his July 4 spectacle. (See: Jordan Muller: Trump seeks to claim the mantle of history in fiery Mount Rushmore address.)

But the Fourth of July celebrations were a side show. The big article this week is Derek Hawkins/Marisa Iati/Jacqueline Dupree: Seven-day average case total in the US sets record for 27th straight day.

Some scattered links this week:

  • Kate Aronoff:

  • David Atkins:

    • Universal basic income continues to gain mainstream support due to COVID-19. By the way, I just finished Rutger Bregman's Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World, which starts with UBI, which pointed out that the idea was widely considered in the early 1970s: he cites Nixon's interest, but my recollection is more McGovern. I recall reading several books on it back then, especially by Robert Theobald (1929-99), best known for Free Men and Free Markets (1963). For a new piece on UBI: Luke Savage: Want to fight poverty? Give poor people money.

    • Why a movement like Trumpism doesn't have a future. The takeaway from the Mt. Rushmore speech:

      It is no accident that the same president who delivered this revanchist, defensive Fourth of July message also could not articulate a single second-term policy priority in front of a friendly interviewer. The gauzy haze of nostalgia that it activates in the conservative mind can be good at whipping up certain kinds of votes, but it cannot serve as the basis for a coherent policy platform. It can encode certain sentiments -- that America should be primarily for white evangelical Christians and run primarily by older white men -- but those sentiments are not only deeply unpopular, they run contrary to the actual words of most of the country's founding documents and the majority of the last century's constitutional jurisprudence.

      Trump has failed on policy at every level because his vision is difficult to translate into legislation, and when articulated almost impossible to enact democratically. As a substitute for literally Making America White Again, building a big wall, enacting travel bans on certain countries or putting migrant children into cages is not only unpopular and villainous, it's also difficult to do legislatively and simply ineffectual in accomplishing the task. That's why these sorts of right-wing populist jabs have historically been culture war red meat designed to keep the bigots distracted while the rich people in charge made off the loot in the form of subsidies and tax cuts. So has it been also with Trump: his base gets to feel like they owned the "libs," but in actuality the only structurally significant outcomes have been tax cuts and giveaways for rich corporate executives and a raft of corporate-friendly judges. Meanwhile, everyone else gets the shaft economically -- including his own downwardly-mobile supporters. . . .

      Trump's vision has no future at all and cannot be negotiated or compromised with. Even if it weren't morally repulsive, it would still be a dead-end for what politics is supposed to be all about: solving problems. During more frivolous times that might not be seem like such a big deal: after all, in 2016 many people voted for Trump out of a sense of "let's see what happens" bored amusement. Many thought that the country essentially ran itself, so why not put a showman in charge? Well, we've now seen what happens.

    • The Trump administration is giving up on fighting the pandemic: The term narrowly considered, meaning the political operatives in and near the White House: the conscious, political direction. But the term is more often used to refer to the whole executive branch, which still harbors countless anonymous bureaucrats who are merely doing their jobs, or trying to (despite political obstacles).

  • Mike Baker/Jennifer Valentino-DeVries/Manny Fernandez/Michael LaForgia: Three words. 70 cases. The tragic history of 'I can't breathe.'

  • Dan Balz: Trump turned July Fourth into a partisan event. The damage could be long-lasting.

  • William J Barber/Phyllis Bennis: The police and the pentagon are bringing our wars home.

  • Medea Benjamin/Nicolas JS Davies: Trump's record on foreign policy: Lost wars, new conflicts, and broken promises.

  • Matt Bruenig: The racial wealth gap is about the upper classes.

  • James Bruno: Netanyahu wants to annex the West Bank. Will Joe Biden stop him? Argues: "The Democratic nominee needs to be clear: the move would come with real consequences if he's elected." I doubt that: annexation will be baked into "the facts on the ground" by the time Biden can take office, and he has never shown any evidence of standing up to (or even questioning) Israel. Moreover, while the US has given lip service to a "two-state solution" for a long time, the US has never really done anything to make it happen. The problem Netanyahu faces most immediately is losing European support to BDS -- that would be a "real consequence." Longer term, Israel risks losing its bedrock Democratic Party base -- not Biden directly, but people Biden will ultimately depend on, and who will eventually follow him. Netanyahu may think annexation will be the great finale of his career, but it will leave his successors in an impossible situation, as a pariah nation with an unassimilable and rebellious underclass. On some level, he must realize that every Black Lives Matter placcard that's appeared all around the world the last few months can easily be repurposed to point a finger at him.

  • Jonathan Chait: Trump blames losing campaign on listening to 'woke Jared': "Trump decides to ignore his son-in-law and focus on voters who fear he isn't racist enough."

  • Jane Coaston: Social conservatives feel betrayed by the Supreme Court -- and the GOP that appointed it.

  • EJ Dionne Jr: A vicious culture war is all Trump has left. Also: Zeeshan Aleem: Trump is going all in on divisive culture wars. That might not work this time.

    In his speeches this weekend, Trump positioned himself as a guardian of American identity, depicting protests against police brutality and racism -- which have slowed significantly in recent weeks, and have been largely peaceful -- in paranoid and cartoonish terms as a "fascist" threat to the republic.

    It should be noted that Trump's claims of the existence of "far-left fascism" are fundamentally incoherent: fascism is a right-wing form of ultranationalism calling for a rebirth of a nation or race, and that has nothing to do with liberal and left-wing calls for an end to police brutality and racism. But that didn't stop Trump from making it the central message of his speeches, which aimed to sensationalize the issue of protests and statue-toppling.

    Speaking at Mount Rushmore, amid peaceful protests led by members of the Sioux Nation meant to underscore the fact the monument was built on stolen and sacred land, Trump promised that the South Dakota monument "will never be desecrated." And he went on to describe the ongoing re-evaluation of public symbols of racism in American life as a threat to civilization.

  • W Ralph Eubanks: The Confederate flag finally falls in Mississippi.

  • M Steven Fish/Neil A Abrams/Laila M Aghaie: Make liberalism great again: "Liberals around the world have let right-wing authoritarians claim patriotism as their own, with disastrous consequences. It's time to take it back." This is a long article, only given a cursory glance, partly because while I'm not unsympathetic to those who would like to present a progressive agenda in the context of America's oft-stated, rarely-realized ideals -- cf. Jill Lepore's This America: The Case for the Nation, backed by her longer These Truths: A History of the United States, or (much better) Ganesh Sitaraman's The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution -- I don't find it very satisfactory to go to all that trouble only to end up with another paean to old-fashioned, left-hating liberalism. But also, deep down, I just don't care much for the idea of patriotism, which has been left to the right to debase as knee-jerk militarist idolatry precisely because both liberals and the left (who are really just liberals who emphasize that universal rights means everyone, not just individuals) feel any real need to limit their horizons to a single nation. Consequently, much of the framing pushed here sounds like bullshit, more or less on the same level as the right-wing's patriotic claims.

  • Nima Gerami: To defeat systemic racism, America must end endless war. Well, America's systemic racism predates "endless war," even the sporadic imperial wars against Mexico (1848) and Cuba/Philippines (1898), which it colored and conditioned -- one can trace it back to the Indian wars of the 17th century. Still, every new war gins up yet another wave of racism, as we've seen clearly in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East (despite the efforts of Bush et seq. to exempt "our allies" in and around Saudi Arabia). By the way, "endless war" perpetuates much more than racism. Most obviously, there's gun violence. Also see:

  • Amy Goldstein: Voters in deep-red Oklahoma approve Medicaid expansion. I have no doubt this would pass in Kansas if the voters are given the chance. Almost passed in the legislature this year, spoiled only by Senate majority leader Susan Wagle refusing to schedule a vote.

  • Graig Graziosi: Trump ally Herman Cain who attended Tulsa rally hospitalized with coronavirus. Of course, he didn't necessary get the virus there. He also traveled to "a lot of places" that week, including hotspot Arizona. Related?

  • Miranda Green: It will take years to undo the damage from Trump's environmental rollback: "Even if Democrats win back the White House and the Senate, it will be a long struggle to restore the regulations the Republican-controlled EPA has erased."

  • Glenn Greenwald: House Democrats, working with Liz Cheney, restrict Trump's planned withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Germany. Jason Crow (D-CO) co-sponsored the amendment with Cheney. This particular amendment was approved 45-11, opposed by 8 Republicans and 3 Democrats.

  • Ryan Grim: National Review is trying to rewrite its own racist history. One thing I've long been struck by is how virulently racist 1950s conservatives were, especially William F Buckley. (Nancy McLean's Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America has many examples.) Barry Goldwater denied that he was a racist when opposing civil rights laws -- something I could never square with his supposedly principled positions on individual freedom, but which made sense given how inextricably the 1950s conservative project was bound up with the support of segregation and white supremacy.

  • Gabrielle Gurley: This time, it's the Democrats' infrastructure week: "House Democrats steered an ambitious transportation and infrastructure plan through the chamber. Structured more like a wish list, it's dead on arrival in the Senate."

  • Bob Harris/Jon Schwarz: Carl Reiner's life should remind us: If you like laughing, thank FDR and the New Deal. The comedian died at 94 last week. He got his start in a WPA class for would-be actors. The New Deal had a number of programs to support the arts in the 1930s. A similar effort would be a great idea today, but doesn't seem to be on anyone's agenda. It is currently impossible for most musicians to make their usual living performing, but they could be paid to record music and make it freely available over the Internet.

  • Jeet Heer: Trolling Trump, the Lincoln Project also peddles militarism: "The Never Trump super PAC makes entertaining ads that get under the president's skin -- but progressives should take a closer look at their agenda." When asked about the maxim that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," Richard Stallman noted that was, at best, an heuristic. I doubt it's even that useful. It's easy to get seduced by people who hate Trump for totally wrong reasons, like for making conservatives look bad, or for failing to be a monomaniacal hawk like John Bolton.

    Writing in The Atlantic, conservative writer Andrew Ferguson, no fan of the president, criticized the Lincoln Project for fighting Trump with Trumpian means. He described the ads as "personally abusive, overwrought, pointlessly salacious, and trip-wired with non sequiturs."

    This ethical critique has merit, but the real problem with the Lincoln Project is political. To the extent that the ads articulate any political vision, it is a desire to return to the hard-line military aggression of the George W. Bush era.

    On Tuesday, the Lincoln Project released an ad addressing accusations that Trump hasn't protected American troops in Afghanistan from a bounty on their lives supposedly placed by the Russian government. The ad, titled "Betrayed," features Dr. Dan Barkhuff, a physician and former Navy SEAL. "Months ago, Donald Trump learned the Russians were paying a bounty for dead American soldiers in Afghanistan and chose to do nothing about it," Barkhuff said. "Any commander in chief with a spine would be stomping the living shit out of some Russians right now -- diplomatically, economically, or, if necessary, with the sort of asymmetric warfare they're using to send our kids home in body bags." He added, "Mr. Trump, you're either a coward who can't stand up to an ex-KGB goon, or you're complicit. Which is it?"

    The article cites a bunch of liberals who applauded this ad. On some level, I don't care why people decide to oppose Trump, but I do worry about people who encourage Biden to be even more hawkish than Trump, both because it's the wrong stance to take and because I'm convinced that Hillary Clinton's commander-in-chief posturing and long history of applauding belligerence cost her the 2016 election. Biden's record is little better, which is all the more reason to downplay his past mistakes. For some better advise, see: John Nichols: Anti-war groups push Biden and the Democrats to rethink foreign policy.

  • Sean Illing: How Black Lives Matter fits into the long history of American radicalism: Interview with Michael Kazin.

  • Umair Irfan: The "Godzilla" Saharan dust cloud over the US, explained: "The giant dust cloud is part of a system that feeds the ocean, fertilizes the rainforest, and suppresses hurricanes."

  • Mugambi Jouet: The Trump cult is loyal to an ideology, not the man: "A rise in extreme polarization culminated in Trump -- and likely won't be vanquished by Biden." This is an idea that's going around, but it doesn't make much sense to me. Although some of Trump's followers -- someone like Steve Bannon -- could conjure up something that looks like an ideology, Trump couldn't begin to articulate it. He's just a rich guy who likes being in front of the camera, spouting the received prejudices and irritable mental gestures he's picked up watching Fox. His fans share those prejudices, and appreciate that he's able to say what they can't -- they may even think that he's fighting for them, but he's really just stroking his own ego. Once he's gone, others will try to pick up the mantle, but I don't see how anyone else can keep his movement together. On the other hand, I doubt Trump will fade away like GW Bush did. He's going to rule right-wing media until he dies or is incapacitated, so, sure, his cult will be with us for a while. But it won't be an ideology.

  • Jen Kirby:

  • Ezra Klein:

  • Natasha Korecki/Marc Caputo: A Sun Belt time bomb threatens Trump's reelection: "Rising Covid-19 caseloads in Florida, Arizona and Texas raise fresh doubts about the president's reelection prospects." Favorite line here: "Trump's campaign accuses Democrats of exploiting tragedy."

  • Josh Kovensky: Trump admin scales back mandate that health insurers cover Covid tests.

  • Michael Kranish: New York court sides with publisher of explosive book by President Trump's niece. Kranish previously wrote about the book: Mary Trump once stood up to her uncle Donald. Now her book describes a 'nightmare' of family dysfunction.

  • Martin Longman: What if Trump decides not to seek a second term? "It's not as crazy of an idea as it sounds" -- but, really it is. Trump filed for reëlection the day after his inauguration. Running for a second term is the only thing he's actually wanted to do as president. He lets his underlings run everything else, at least until they become too embarrassing, in which case he makes them find more pliable and less competent replacements. So what if he's going to lose? He stayed true to his blindest and dumbest followers, and he certainly knows how to monetize whatever treachery undid him. As for the Republicans, it's too late for them to find a credible replacement. Sure, they could go with Mitt Romney, and piss off his base. Or they could elevate Mike Pence, and bore them to death. In any case, they're stuck with Trump's record, which is arguably worse than the man himself (not that such distinctions matter to most of us). Longman also wrote: What happens when Trump stops believing he can win reelection? Problem there is that the "chaos and malevolence" is coming anyway. Trump can't help himself (not that he would if he could). Related:

    • Robert Kuttner: Trump to Trump: You're fired!. Also not going to happen. Although I did imagine that he might resign after getting reëlected, to get a jump on cashing in. Or maybe after getting trounced, to give Pence a presidential legacy, although he'd really just be running out the clock, like a third-string quarterback.

  • German Lopez: Just 2 states meet these basic criteria to reopen and stay safe: New York and Rhode Island meet 4 (of 5) criteria; 21 states and DC meet 2 or 3; 27 states 0 or 1. Only 2 states and DC have "a sustained two-week drop in coronavirus cases": Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

  • Eric Margolis: The coming ecosystem collapse is already here for coral.

  • Alan MacLeod: In 'Russia bounty' story, evidence-free claims from nameless spies became fact overnight. A story claiming "Russia secret offered Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. troops" was planted in the New York Times and picked up everywhere, including among liberals who figured they could spin it into their favored story lines: that Trump is a Putin puppet, or (more plausibly) incompetent and indifferent. My initial reaction was that the story was a crock, meant purely to sabotage the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and/or to ratchet up cold war tensions with Russia, and nothing since then -- an investigation that found one soldier who might have been affected, or a "confirmation" from the Taliban -- has changed my mind. There are lots of good reasons for being critical of Russia, but this one makes no sense. For more:

  • Louis Menand: This fourth of July, consider Trump's lobster fib.

    It's not hard to understand Trump. It is hard to understand the people in his Administration who enable the blather and the misinformation, who spin-cycle it to bleach out the most offensive or dangerous implications, and who parrot it dutifully. For the first two years of Trump's Presidency, some of these people were known as "the adults in the room." To an admittedly remote observer, those people looked indistinguishable from opportunists willing to suppress their opinions in the hopes of becoming Presidential puppet masters. They were dreaming. All of them have departed with their reputations scarred.

  • Stephen Miles: It's bad politics for Democrats to be hawkish on foreign policy. Cites Elliot Engel ("one of only two dozen House Democrats out of 1888 who ultimately voted against the Iran deal"), defeated in last week's primary, as a cautionary example, but the point should be made much more generally. Hawkish Democrats are especially suspect, not least because they usually frame their interventionist appeals as acts of humanitarianism, and such crises are numerous and inevitable. Besides, there's nothing many Americans hate more than "helping" unappreciative others. Republicans may be more supportive of funding America's imperial overreach, but they usually withhold actual war until they can gin up a popular desire for spite and revenge -- something Americans do believe in.

  • Ian Millhiser:

  • Jeanne Morefield: 'Never in my country': COVID-19 and American Exceptionalism.

    Senator Bernie Sanders' reasonable suggestion that the U.S., like Denmark, should nationalize its healthcare system is dismissed as the fanciful pipe dream of an aging socialist rather than an obvious solution to a human problem embraced by nearly every other nation in the world. The Seattle healthcare professional who expressed shock that even "Third World countries" are "better equipped" than we are to confront COVID-19 betrays a stunning ignorance of the diversity of healthcare systems within developing countries. Cuba, for instance, has responded to this crisis with an efficiency and humanity that puts the U.S. to shame.

    Indeed, the U.S. is only beginning to feel the full impact of COVID-19's explosive confrontation with our exceptionalism: if the unemployment rate really does reach 32 percent, as has been predicted, millions of people will not only lose their jobs but their health insurance as well. In the middle of a pandemic.

    Over 150 years apart, political commentators Edmund Burke and Aimé Césaire referred to this blindness as the byproduct of imperialism. Both used the exact same language to describe it; as a "gangrene" that "poisons" the colonizing body politic. From their different historical perspectives, Burke and Césaire observed how colonization boomerangs back on colonial society itself, causing irreversible damage to nations that consider themselves humane and enlightened, drawing them deeper into denial and self-delusion.

  • Anna North: Roe v. Wade isn't safe: "The Supreme Court just struck down an anti-abortion law. Here's why access is still at risk."

  • JC Pan: Democrats can't quit their addiction to big-money donors: "The urgency of beating Trump in November has once again set campaign finance reform on the back burner." After 2008 would have been an ideal time for Democrats to clamp down on money in campaigning, but Obama had raised significantly more money than McCain, and was looking forward to repeating his dominance in 2012, and members of Congress in both parties were united in their ability to raise more funds than their opponents. Further complication comes from a Supreme Court firmly committed to protecting corruption in at least two ways: equating money with free speech, and making it virtually impossible to convict anyone of taking bribes.

  • Daniel Politi: Washington NFL team launches review of racist nickname: You mean the Redskins? I remember that name being questioned fifty years ago. On the other hand, the proposed replacements, starting with Warriors, are often worse.

  • John Quiggin: Trumpism after Trump. More notes and conjecture than an argument. Quiggin has also signed up to write a book on The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic. If, as he assumes, Biden will be the next president, with a workable majority in Congress, the real question has less to do with rump Trumpism than his third assumption: whether "mainstream Democrats recognize the need for radical change, and Biden will align with the mainstream position as he always has done." Quiggin's book will presumably argue for "radical change" under those conditions.

  • David Roberts: House Democrats just put out the most detailed climate plan in US political history: "A new select committee report is perfectly in tune with the growing climate policy alignment on the left around standards, investments, and justice."

  • Paul Rosenberg: The secret of his success: Donald Trump's six weird tricks for authoritarian rule: Interview with Jennifer Mercieca, author of: Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump.

  • Daid Rothkopf: 'The most ignorant and unfit': What made America's worst ever leader? Starts with a convenient quote from Michelle Obama: "Being president doesn't change who you are, it reveals who you are." Rothkopf sifts through various historian surveys of the worst presidents ever -- poor lists, if you ask me, prejudiced against the mediocrities of the 19th century while omitting Nixon and the Bushes, whose only saving graces were to be followed by even worse Republicans -- but ultimately settles on a past leader more temperamentally (and cognitively) suited for comparing Trump to: George III.

  • Theodore Schleifer: America has almost 800 billionaires, a record high. Well, 788, up 12% from a year before, or 27% (from 620) in 2016. That's 0.0002409% of the US population (328.2 million). Maybe it would be fairer to divide by US households (128.58 million): 0.00061284%, or 1 in every 163,174 households. That's an unimaginably tiny fraction of the total -- about 2 people in Wichita (who happen to be Charles Koch and Phil Ruffin, something you may know even if you're not from here). But those 788 billionaires control $3.4 trillion in assets, up 14% since the end of 2018.

  • Andrea K Scott: The removal of a Theodore Roosevelt statue is a good first step in rethinking America's monuments.

  • Melody Schreiber: The climate crisis will be just as shockingly abrupt.

  • Dylan Scott:

    • How Trump gave insurance companies free rein to sell bad health plans. "Obamacare wasn't repealed. Trump's deregulation is eroding it anyway." I an think of few things that are more injurious than insurance plans that don't actually protect you from unexpected health care expenses. One thing Obamacare did so was establish minimum standards of coverage -- although they also allowed huge deductibles and co-payments, so a great many people wound up paying more out of pocket, but at least they had some coverage for major expenses. Trump is just a co-conspirator to fraud.

    • Why a Covid-19 drug costs $3,100. This piece doesn't provide a very good explanation -- it mostly muddies the water with insurance variations like deductibles -- and the section "is this a fair price for remdesivir as a Covid-19 therapy?" is mostly nonsense. (For instance, Gilead figures that if their drug reduces hospital stays 3-4 days, their "value proposition" should reap a significant percentage of the saved hospital costs.) Bottom line is that Big Pharma is built on patents and extortion pricing. This is an example, not an exception.

      • David Dayen: Time to seize drug patents.

        The entire pharmaceutical sector has been raising prices during the pandemic: 245 drugs hiked up between January and June according to Patients for Affordable Drugs, including 61 being used for COVID-19 treatment and another 30 in use in clinical trials. . . . Hilariously, Gilead's stock fell in Monday trading because investors thought they should charge more.

        If remdesivir were sold at the cost of production, it would cost $10, not $3,120. The "value" of the drug comes with the reduction in admission length, and the savings to hospitals and patients. But even that value, based on the known science, shouldn't go too far past $400, according to the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review. You could say that Gilead needs to recoup its research and development costs, but of course the U.S. government financed much of that research.

      • Donald Shaw: Biden sides with Big Pharma against affordable coronavirus vaccine plan [Marh 19].

      • David Sirota: The US public paid to develop this COVID-19 drug. It will cost $3,000 a dose. Title seems to have the price wrong ($3,100 for a 5-day course of treatment, not per dose).

        Similarly, bipartisan legislation passed in 1980 created so-called march-in rights that empower the government to authorize another company -- or the government itself -- to produce a lower-priced generic version of a high-priced medicine.

        The problem, of course, is that the government's health care apparatus is controlled by former pharmaceutical industry executive Alex Azar.

  • Robert J Shapiro: Trump's bungled pandemic response is crushing American incomes: "New data shows the costs of the administration's failure to stem the coronavirus outbreak."

    The only force staving off desperate conditions for many households was the one-time checks the government sent most Americans and the temporary expansion of jobless benefits.

    Now with the resurgence of COVID-19 infections, Congress has little choice but to approve another round of checks and extend the generous unemployment benefits. If Congress does approve a lot more help, millions of American households will still face financial peril -- and if Congress fails to step up again, tens of millions of Americans could confront financial ruin.

    As a dose of reality, the new income data show that our current conditions are roughly three times as severe as the Great Recession. All personal income fell 4.2 percent in May and 3.0 percent over the three months from March through May. It took nine months for personal income to fall that much during the Great Recession. Wage and salary income actually increased by 3.3 percent in May, as the payroll grants under the CARES program kicked in and businesses began to reopen. Even so, wage and salary income fell 7.9 percent from March through May, again more than during the entire Great Recession.

    The reason that total personal income fell "only" 3.0 percent over the three months -- the steepest drop on record -- while total wage and salary income fell an astounding 7.9 percent in three months was due almost entirely to those government checks and jobless benefits. After setting aside government transfers, the BEA reports that total personal income fell 7.5 percent in three months.

  • Apa Sherpa (as told to Emily Atkin): I've climbed Everest 21 times. It's not the mountain it used to be.

  • Matt Shuham: "Nothing is normal here": Trump campaign claims its NDA applies to Omarosa's WH work.

  • Jeffrey Toobin: John Roberts distances himself from the Trump-McConnell legal project: But (see Millhiser above) he still strikes me as a team player, casting the deciding vote to uphold Republican voting restrictions. Occasional votes that seem independent could just as well be calculated to retain a shred of integrity for a Court that will increasingly curtail democracy, especially if people don't panic and stop the flow of Federalist Society judges.

  • Nahal Toosi: Human rights groups turn their sights on Trump's America.

  • Sina Toosi: How John Bolton and Mike Pompeo thwarted Trump's plan to get a deal with Iran. More Bolton (not that you need any):

  • Alex Ward: Donald Trump is vulnerable on China. So is Joe Biden. They're both wrong, too, although that's not what they perceive as each other's faults.

  • Liz Essley Whyte: Trump's favorite weapon in the coronavirus fight: Deregulation: Well, his favorite weapon in every fight, regardless of aptness. "Instead of addressing this crisis head-on, the Trump administration appears to be exploiting the chaos of the pandemic by rolling back critics civil rights regulatory protections and environmental safeguards." Appears?

  • Colin Woodard: Woodrow Wilson was even worse than you think.

  • Robin Wright: To the world, we're now America the racist and pitiful.

  • Matthew Yglesias:

Monday, June 29, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, June archive (finished).

Music: Current count 33526 [33485] rated (+41), 211 [216] unrated (-5).

Last Monday of the month, so spent most of the day doing bookkeeping for the monthly roll-up (link above). Five weeks this month, so the total is up -- 193 records, or 194 if you count the Hal Singer regrade, which I slipped into "old music" instead of "grade changes" for context. About half old music, with dives into records I had missed when a new one (or a death or a reader question) tempted me to look further or some other reference).

Speaking of questions, I field ones about David Murray and James Carter, and duck one on jazz books, in my latest batch. Use the form to ask me more.

Recommended music links: No systematic search, but these are a few things I had open:

Songwriter Johnny Mandel (94) also died this week.

New records reviewed this week:

  • Al Bilali Soudan: Tombouctou (2020, Clermont Music): [r]: A-
  • Jehnny Beth: To Love Is to Live (2020, Caroline): [r]: B+(*)
  • Don Braden/Joris Teepe Quartet: In the Spirit of Herbie Hancock: Live at De Witte (2019 [2020], O.A.P.): [r]: B+(***)
  • Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher (2020, Dead Oceans): [r]: B+(**)
  • Daniel Carter/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Gerald Cleaver: Welcome Adventure! Vol. 1 (2019 [2020], 577): [r]: B+(***)
  • Caterpillar Quartet: Threads (2020, ESP-Disk): [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Whit Dickey Trio: Expanding Light (2019 [2020], Tao Forms): [r]: A-
  • Beth Duncan: I'm All Yours (2020, Saccat): [cd]: B [07-24]
  • Bob Dylan: Rough and Rowdy Ways (2020, Columbia): [r]: A-
  • John Finbury: Quatro (2020, Green Flash Music): [cd]: B
  • Jean-Marc Foussat/Daunik Lazro/Evan Parker: Café Oto 2020 (2020, Fou, 2CD): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Wendy Gondeln/Mats Gustafsson/Wolfang Voigt: The Shithole Country & Boogie Band (2016-18 [2020], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(***)
  • CeeLo Green: CeeLo Green Is Thomas Callaway (2020, Easy Eye Sound): [r]: B
  • Haim: Women in Music Pt. III (2020, Columbia): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hinds: The Prettiest Curse (2020, Mom + Pop): [r]: A-
  • Jason Kao Hwang: Human Rites Trio (2019 [2020], True Sound): [cd]: A- [07-01]
  • Jumpstarted Plowhards: Round One (2019, Recess, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Corb Lund: Agricultural Tragic (2020, New West): [r]: B+(**)
  • Benjamin Moussay: Promontoire (2019 [2020], ECM): [r]: B+(**)
  • Bobby Previte/Jamie Saft/Nels Cline: Music From the Early 21st Century (2019 [2020], RareNoise): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sonar With David Torn: Tranceportation (Volume 2) (2019 [2020], RareNoise): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Alister Spence: Whirlpool: Solo Piano (2019 [2020], Alister Spence Music, 2CD): [cd]: B+(*) [07-24]
  • Dan Willis and Velvet Gentlemen: The Monk Project (2018-19 [2020], Belle Avenue): [cd]: B [07-17]
  • Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad: Jazz Is Dead 001 (2020, Jazz Is Dead, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad: Jazz Is Dead 002: Roy Ayers (2020, Jazz Is Dead, EP): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Willem Breuker/Han Bennink: New Acoustic Swing Duo (1967-68 [2019], Corbett vs. Dempsey, 2CD): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Grayson Capps: South Front Street: A Retrospective 1997-2019 (1997-2019 [2020], The Royal Potato Family): [r]: B+(*)
  • Neil Young: Homegrown (1974-75 [2020], Reprise): [r]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • Al Bilali Soudan: Al Bilali Souadn (2012, Clermont Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • Don Braden Quintet: The Time Is Now (1991, Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
  • Don Braden: Organic (1994 [1995], Epicure): [r]: B+(**)
  • Don Braden: Brighter Days (2001, High Note): [r]: B+(*)
  • Milt Buckner & Hal Singer: Milt & Hal [The Defnitive Black & Blue Sessions] (1966 [2004], Black & Blue): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hyphy Hitz (2004-07 [2007], TVT): [dl]: B+(***)
  • Pharoah Sanders: Izipho Zam (My Gifts) (1969 [1973], Strata-East): [yt]: B+(***)
  • Hal Singer: Rent Party (1948-56 [1994], Savoy Jazz): [r]: A-
  • Hal Singer: Blues and News (1971, Futura): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hal Singer/Jef Gilson: Soul of Africa (1974, Le Chant Du Monde): [r]: A-
  • Hal Singer: Senior Blues (1991, Carrere): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hal Singer & Massimo Faraň Trio: We're Still Buddies (2001 [2005], Azzurra Music): [r]: B+(*)
  • Hal Singer: Challenge (2010, Marge): [r]: A-

Grade (or other) changes:

  • Hal Singer With Charlie Shavers: Blue Stompin' (1959 [1994], Prestige/OJC): [r]: [was: B+] B+(***)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Ricardo Grilli: 1962 (Tone Rogue) [07-10]

Daily Log

TomDispatch tweeted a link to the Robert Reich article I cited yesterday. I replied:

"Coddling dictators" isn't a strategy to get re-elected, but not escalating conflicts by shaming other countries is a good idea; Trump's willingness to deal with anyone could have been his saving grace in foreign relations; too bad it's no good at it.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Late-breaking tweet from @realDonaldTrump: "Nobody wants a Low IQ person in charge of our Country," trying to deflect from the obvious by adding that "Sleepy Joe is definitely a Low IQ person!" Sure, he's never struck me as especially bright, but it's rather clever that the Democrats are nominating someone Trump cannot attack without the slanders reflecting back on him.

Trump's approval rate at 538 is down to 40.6%, with 56.1% disapprove. That's the biggest split I can recall.

Onion headline: Officials warn defunding police could lead to spike in crime from ex-officers with no outlet for violence. When I mentioned this to my wife, she already had examples to cite. Article cites "L.A. police chief Michel Moore" as saying:

The truth is that there are violent people in our society, and we need a police department so they have somewhere to go during the day to channel their rage. If these cuts are allowed to continue, we could be looking at a very real future where someone with a history of domestic abuse is able to terrorize their spouse with impunity instead of being occupied testing out new tactical military equipment or pepper-spraying some random teens. The fact that these dangerous attackers and killers are being gainfully employed by the LAPD is the only thing standing between us and complete chaos.

By the way, there is a new batch of questions and answers, not all on music. Ask more, here.

Some scattered links this week:

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Daily Log

Trying to figure out a sloppy joe recipe. Sources:

  1. The Wholesome Dish
  2. Five Heart Home
  3. The Chunky Chef
  4. Beef Is What's for Dinner
  5. All Recipes
  6. Taste of Home
  7. Culintary Hill
  • ground beef: 1 lb
  • butter: C(1 tbs)
  • onion: A(1/2 c), C(1/2 large), D(1 c), E(1/4 c), G(1)
  • green bell pepper: A(1/2 c), C(1/3), D(1 c), E(1/4 c)
  • garlic: B(2 cloves), C(3)
  • tomato sauce: ABG(8 oz), D(14.5 oz)
  • tomato paste: C(1 tbs)
  • ketchup: BG(1/2 c), C(2/3 c), D(1/4 c), E(3/4 c), F(1 c)
  • water: F(1/4 c)
  • barbecue sauce: D(1/4 c)
  • brown sugar: A(1/2 c), B(1-2 tbs), D(2 tsp), E(3 tsp), F(2 tbs), G(1 tbs)
  • worcestershire sauce: B(2 tbs), C(1/2 tsp), DG(1 tbs), F(2 tsp)
  • red wine vinegar: A(1 tbs)
  • white vinegar: G(1 tbs)
  • prepared (yellow) mustard: B(1 tsp), C(1 tsp), E(1 tsp), F(2 tsp)
  • dry mustard: D(1 tsp), G(1 tsp)
  • chili powder: C(3/4 tsp)
  • garlic powder: B(1/2 tsp), E(1/2 tsp), F(1/2 tsp)
  • onion powder: B(1/4 tsp), F(1/2 tsp)
  • salt: A(1 tsp), FC(1/2 tsp), EG(to taste)
  • ground black pepper: AC(1/4 tsp), BEG(to taste)

Came up with this one.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, June archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33485 [33449] rated (+36), 216 [215] unrated (+1).

Don't feel like writing much here. Started the week thinking I'd track down some records by the late Keith Tippett, but quickly got sidetracked by Stan Tracey, an older British pianist who did some duet records with Tippett c. 1977. I then picked up some old World Saxophone Quartet records, adding them to my David Murray Guide. I probably should have done this anyway, but someone on Facebook commented on my missing Revue, which he teased was some kind of consensus pick as the greatest jazz album of the decade. The old Gary Bartz records came after reviewing his new one. I should note that Harlem Bush Music, which combines the two albums before Juju Street Songs, was previously A-.

Didn't do much on new records this week. Started most days with golden oldies, then when I sat down at the computer, switched over to old jazz rather than going through my new queue. Best reviewed new records this week were by Bob Dylan and Phoebe Bridgers -- who got more favorable reviews than Dylan this week (32 to 22 in my metacritic file.) I'll check out both soon, but was more curious about Black Eyed Peas (AOTY critic score 50/1, user score 83/30). Not great, but much better than that, with a choice cut called News Today.

New records reviewed this week:

  • Ambrose Akinmusire: On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment (2020, Blue Note): [r]: B+(**)
  • Gary Bartz and Maisha: Night Dreamer Direct-to-Disc Sessions (2019 [2020], Night Dreamer): [r]: B+(***)
  • Black Eyed Peas: Translation (2020, Epic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Chromeo: Quarantine Casanova (2020, Chromeo, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band: The Intangible Between (2020, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(**)
  • Fra Fra: Funeral Songs (2020, Glitterbeat): [r]: B
  • Mike: Weight of the World (2020, 10k): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Aaron Parks: Little Big II: Dreams of a Mechanical Man (2019 [2020], Ropeadope): [r]: B+(**)
  • Perfume Genius: Set My Heart on Fire Immediately (2020, Matador): [r]: B+(*)
  • Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Sideways to New Italy (2020, Sub Pop): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Misha Mengelberg/Peter Brötzmann/Evan Parker/Peter Bennink/Paul Rutherford/Derek Bailey/Han Bennink: Groupcomposing (1970 [2018], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(*)

Old music:

  • Gary Bartz Ntu Troop: Juju Street Songs (1972-73 [1997], Prestige): [r]: B+(**)
  • Gary Bartz Ntu Troop: I've Known Rivers and Other Bodies (1973, Prestige): [r]: B+(***)
  • Gary Bartz: Shadows (1991 [1992], Timeless): [r]: B+(**)
  • Gary Bartz: ?The Red and Orange Poems (1994, Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Joe Harriott Quintet: Swings High (1967 [2003], Cadillac): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Dudu Pukwana & Bob Stuckey: Night Time Is the Right Time: 60s Soho Sounds (1967-68 [2010], Cadillac): [r]: B
  • Keith Tippett Tapestry Orchestra: Live at Le Mans (1998 [2009], Edition, 2CD): [r]: B
  • Stan Tracey: Showcase (1958, Vogue): [r]: B+(*)
  • The Stan Tracey Quartet: Jazz Suite: Inspired by Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood (1965, Columbia): [r]: A
  • Stan Tracey/Keith Tippett: Supernova (1977 [2008], Resteamed): [r]: B+(**)
  • The New Stan Tracey Quartet: For Heaven's Sake (1995 [1996], Cadillac): [r]: B+(***)
  • Stan Tracey: Solo : Trio (1997 [1998], Cadillac): [r]: B+(***)
  • Stan Tracey & Danny Moss: Just You, Just Me (2003 [2004], Avid): [r]: B+(***)
  • Stan Tracey Quartet: Senior Moment (2008 [2009], Resteamed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Stan Tracey Quintet: The Flying Pig (2013 [2014], Resteamed): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ben Webster/Stan Tracey: Soho Nights Vol. 2 (1964 [2012], Resteamed): [r]: A-
  • Ben Webster/Stan Tracey: Soho Nights Vol. 1 (1968 [2008], Resteamed): [r]: B+(***)
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Steppin' With the World Saxophone Quartet (1978 [1979], Black Saint): [r]: B
  • World Saxophone Quartet: W.S.Q. (1980 [1981], Black Saint): [r]: B+(*)
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Revue (1980 [1982], Black Saint): [r]: B+(*)
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Live in Zürich (1981 [1984], Black Saint): [r]: B+(*)
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Live at Brooklyn Academy of Music (1985 [1986], Black Saint): [r]: B
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Four Now (1995 [1996], Justin Time): [r]: B+(**)
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Takin' It 2 the Next Level (1996, Justin Time): [r]: B
  • World Saxophone Quartet: 25th Anniversary: The New Chapter (2000 [2001], Justin Time): [r]: B

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Jeff Cosgrove/John Medeski/Jeff Lederer: History Gets Ahead of the Story (Grizzley Music) [07-17]
  • Dan Willis and Velvet Gentlemen: The Monk Project (Belle Avenue) [07-17]

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Blog link.

All in all, not a very good week for Donald Trump. It started off with Supreme Court rulings that the 1965 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ people, and that Trump's revocation of the DACA program was invalid because the Trump administration failed to explain why. The marches continued, as did the police outrages provoking more demonstrations, but also a few reform stories, and even some indictments and/or dismissals that show that, despite the fury of Trump and the right, protest is getting somewhere. Trump spent much of the week threatening and/or suing his former national security director and his niece for writing books showing some of the many ways he is incompetent and/or vile. And just as we're still processing his recent purge of federal inspectors for trying to do their jobs, he goes off and fires a US attorney who had opened investigations of some of his cronies. He's finding Covid-19 infection rates still on the rise in nearly half of the states, including virtually all of the "red" ones in the South. He expected to finish the week on a high after resuming his campaign rallies in one of those states, only to find the Tulsa arena half-empty (and considerably less than half-masked). It's hard to see how that turns into a win.

Even before the rally, most polls show Trump losing badly to Joe Biden. See Nate Silver: Our new polling averages show Biden leads Trump by 9 points nationally, which shows a bunch of 2016 Trump states flipping: Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, but not quite Iowa (where Biden is -0.6) or Texas (-0.7). Trump's approval rating is 41.4% (vs. 55.2% disapprove). The generic congressional ballot is at 48.4% Democrats, 40.4% Republicans. Of course, too early to count your chickens. The one thing I'm most certain of is that the rest of the 2020 campaign season is going to be the nastiest in American history.

Quite a few sublists below, usually starting with the first piece I found on a subject, so you'll have to scour around to find ones of personal interest. In fact, quite a lot of everything.

Some scattered links this week:

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, June archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33449 [33418] rated (+31), 215 [214] unrated (+1).

British avant-pianist Keith Tippett died last week, at 72. He was a major figure, although having never sorted out his scattered discography, I can't say how major. I can say that on occasion he rivaled Cecil Taylor for explosive invention. One issue is that while he recorded several albums with Mujician as a title, he also led a group (with Paul Dunmall, Paul Rogers, and Tony Levin) by that name through seven 1990-2006 albums. Another is that he dabbled in a wide range of music, especially along the prog rock fringe. He married pop singer/actress Julie Driscoll in 1970, and she changed her name to Julie Tippetts (meanwhile, her husband dropped the 's'), continuing a long career that veered far from the pop charts. She survives him. Also on Tippett:

I'll look into Tippett a bit more next week, but as I'm writing this I've headed off on a Stan Tracey (1926-2013) detour.

One other death last week I should note somewhere is Carl Brewer, a former two-term mayor of Wichita. He was a moderate black Democrat, always seemed to be in tune with local business leaders but always seemed like a decent guy, never had a whiff of scandal, and never embarrassed us. (I'd like to say never did anything blatantly stupid, but I have to question his support for Lyndy Wells in the latest mayoral election.) People I know who knew him liked him a lot. None of those traits were common among the recent run of Wichita mayors.

Robert Christgau published his Consumer Guide: June, 2020, with an A+ for Run the Jewels RTJ4 (an A- here last week); an A for the Wussy album below; A- for Princess Nokia's Everything Is Beautiful, Serengeti's Ajai, and a Fats Domino live album I previously gave good but somewhat lower grades to; an A- for a Malian record I haven't found; a B+ for the Hamell on Trial album below; and a few more things -- I tried Westside Gunn, and even went back two previous releases, but nothing really stuck with me. I'm not conceding that I screwed up, but I've often had trouble catching rap lyrics (especially given limited plays), and that may be at work here.

Christgau asked me for some info on David Murray (occasioned by an Xgau Sez question), so I pasted a chunk of my Jazz Guides into an email. It occurred to me that I could add that to my Village Voice David Murray Guide (2006). The file turned out to be a mess, so I cleaned it up from "unpublished draft" and notes to incorporating the published edits. But rather than appending the more extensive reviews, I created a separate file. I also used the occasion to pick up a few records I had missed, as well as Kahil El'Zabar's new one, just out. Started a list of "other records" as a self-check, but haven't gotten very far with it.

After all my pleading, I only have one question answered this week. More, please.

I did get one more piece of mail via the form: Piotr wrote in to inform me that he's created a Wikipedia page for Tom Hull (critic). It's a very substantial page, with a lot of biographical detail, all properly footnoted (most based on my interview). I've written him with a few corrections and clarifications, so no need to itemize them here. Besides, most make for slightly better myth than reality.

Two of the three new jazz A-list records this week were reviewed the old-fashioned way, from CDs. Probably helped get them the attention they deserve. I missed the A- Murray album because it was a mere Penguin Guide ***, but turns out it features El'Zabar as the magic beans. Found the old Joe Harriott records after noting the new vault release. Been wanting to hear them for a long time, but none match Free Form (1960).

By the way, I've been keeping the metacritic file reasonably up to date. Run the Jewels' RTJ4 made a strong run for the top spot, but is still one point behind Fiona Apple's Fetch the Bolt Cutters. At AOTY and Metacritic, the latter has slightly higher scores, but fewer reviews. Waxahatchie's Saint Cloud is third, then there's a substantial point gap before you get to Caribou, Dua Lipa, Perfume Genius, Tame Impala, Thundercat, Yves Tumor, Lucinda Williams, Charlie XCX, Shabaka and the Ancestors, and Soccer Mommy.

New records reviewed this week:

  • AuB: AuB (2019 [2020], Edition): [r]: B+(*)
  • César Cardoso: Dice of Tenors (2020, self-released): [r]: B+(*)
  • Elysia Crampton: Orcorara 2010 (2020, Pan): [r]: B-
  • Whit Dickey: Morph (2019 [2020], ESP-Disk, 2CD): [cd]: A-
  • Dion: Blues With Friends (2020, Keeping the Blues Alive): [r]: B+(*)
  • Kahil El'Zabar: Kahil El'Zabar's Spirit Groove (2019 [2020], Spiritmuse): [r]: A-
  • Hamell on Trial: The Pandemic Songs (2020, self-released): [bc]: A-
  • Daniel Hersog: Night Devoid of Stars (2019 [2020], Cellar Live): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Norah Jones: Pick Me Up Off the Floor (2020, Blue Note): [r]: B+(*)
  • Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene (2020, Jazzhaus): [r]: B+(***)
  • Madre Vaca: Winterreise (2020, Madre Vaca): [cd]: B
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio (2020, Whirlwind): [cd]: A-
  • Stephen Riley: Friday the 13th (2018 [2020], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Dua Saleh: Rosetta (2020, Against Giants, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • John Scofield: Swallow Tales (2019 [2020], ECM): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sara Serpa: Recognition (2019 [2020], Biophilia): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Walter Smith III/Matthew Stevens/Micah Thomas/Linda May Han Oh/Nate Smith: In Common 2 (2019 [2020], Whirlwind): [r]: B+(*)
  • Westside Gunn: Flygod Is an Awesome God (2019, Griselda): [r]: B+(*)
  • Westside Gunn: Hitler Wears Hermes VII (2019, Griselda): [r]: B+(*)
  • Westside Gunn: Pray for Paris (2020, Griselda): [r]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Joe Harriott Quintet: Jazz for Moderns (1962 [2020], Gearbox, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Wussy: Ghosts (2006-19 [2020], self-released): [bc]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • The Channels Featuring Earl Lewis: Golden Oldies (1956-59 [2013], Essential Music Group): [r]: B+(*)
  • Joe Harriott & Co. Feat John Dankworth & Tubby Hayes: Helter Skelter: Live, Rare and Previously Unreleased Recordings 1955-1963 (1955-63 [2017], Acrobat): [r]: B+(**)
  • Joe Harriott Quintet: Abstract (1961-62 [2015], J. Joes J. Edizioni Musicali): [r]: B+(***)
  • The Joe Harriott Double Quintet: Indo-Jazz Suite (1966, Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ranee Lee: Seasons of Love (1997, Justin Time): [r]: B+(*)
  • David Murray: Let the Music Take You (1978, Marge): [r]: B+(***)
  • David Murray: Interboogieology (1978, Black Saint): [r]: B+(**)
  • David Murray: The London Concert (1978 [1999], Cadillac, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
  • David Murray Quartet: A Sanctuary Within (1991 [1992], Black Saint): [r]: A-

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Juhani Aaltonen/Jonas Kullhammar/Christian Meaas Svendsen/Ilmari Heikinheimo: The Father, the Sons & the Junnu (Moserobie)
  • Beth Duncan: I'm All Yours (Saccat) [07-24]
  • Jason Kao Hwang: Human Rites Trio (True Sound) [07-01]
  • Noshir Mody: An Idealist's Handbook: Identity, Love and Hope in America 2020 (self-released) [07-03]
  • Corey Smythe: Accelerate Every Voice (Pyroclastic)
  • Stephane Spira/Giovanni Mirabassi: Improkofiev (Jazzmax) [06-19]
  • Lou Volpe: Before & After (Jazz Guitar)

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Blog link.

No intro this week.

Tweet of the week, from paulo. (@itskingapollo):

If the police did their jobs, everyone would trust them. Ain't no song called "Fuck the Fire Department."

Also, from Rhys Blakely (@rhysblakely):

A 70-year-old man in Seattle survived the coronavirus, got applauded by staff when he left the hospital after 62 days -- and then got a $1.1 million, 181-page hospital bill.

Some scattered links this week:

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, June archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33418 [33378] rated (+40), 214 [209] unrated (+5).

Cutoff was Monday evening, after I wrapped up Weekend Roundup, so that has a bit to do with the above-average count. Shifted back to new music last week, starting with some Phil Overeem recommendations, and ended with rummaging through my tracking file (jazz subset), with a few asides along the way. (One of Cliff Ocheltree's Facebook posts mentioned If Deejay Was Your Trade and Hyphy Hitz. Couldn't find the latter, but the Blood & Fire compilation was so good I wanted to hear more from Big Joe.) Still, didn't bother with my promo queue at all. It had been near-empty, but has recovered to the extent I need to pay it some attention.

I reviewed Thank Your Lucky Stars' Girl in Her 29s last week, noting that I couldn't find anything via Google on the CD. I'm told that this website will help. I also received a hand-written letter from Ben Barnes, which reads in part (or I think it does, as my eyes and his handlettering don't always mesh; I also spared you the all-caps, and added a link I'm almost 100% sure of and italics for the album title):

As for the mysterious online presence I vowed long ago to only spend time and money on the things I love and never try to profit from them. Whenever someone asks about buying a disc I ask them to contribute to Mikey's Chance Canine Rescue and then I happily mail them Girl in Her 29s.

Looking back at last week's "review," I realize I didn't finish it -- by, like, saying something about the record. Meant to, but ran out of time and decided to run what I had anyway, and still haven't gotten back to it, so sorry. I will re-run the album cover.

On June 3, Robert Christgau tweeted:

I try to be shrewd about this stuff, not show my hand before I publish my review, but it would be just wrong to deny that it's been A LONG TIME since I felt like a new album was just what I'd been needing the way the new Run the Jewels does.

I had the same reaction to RTJ4, although I didn't explain it very coherently below -- written after two plays before I saw the tweet -- no doubt because I always have trouble following rap lyrics. But even I caught enough to realize that this was the time. (Link above is to the whole feed. Even now the tweet in question is well down, but it won't hurt you to scroll for it.)

The Ogún Meji Duo album was reviewed by Karl Ackermann as a new release at All About Jazz. Ackerman wrote: "The album makes a powerful statement that could have been a response to Emmett Till in 1955 or George Floyd in 2020." True enough, but it actually dates from the Michael Brown era. I might have graded it higher, but tired of the lecture, and got annoyed by the Soundcloud-like website streaming. But drummer Mark Lomax and saxophonist Edwin Bayard are awesome as usual. I should note that Lomax's 400 Years Suite is currently number one on my 2020 list, and his 12-CD 400: An Afrikan Epic was number three on the 2019 list.

In non-musical matters, Crocodile Chuck suggested a Weekend Roudup link: Jack Rasmus: Confronting Institutional Racism. Rasmus is an economist in California, subtitles his blog "Predicting the Global Eonomic Crisis," has a bunch of books on economics (keyword: neoliberalism), as well as some stage plays and DVDs. I noticed one of his books in 2010 -- Epic Recession: Prelude to Global Depression -- but missed six since then. Most evocative title was Obama's Economy: Recovery for the Few (paperback, 2012, Pluto Press). First book was a big one: The War at Home: The Corporate Offensive From Ronald Reagan to George W Bush (2006, Kyklos)./p>

I got one question following last week's Questions and Answers post. I'll take a stab at answering it later this week. Meanwhile, ask me more.

New records reviewed this week:

  • 79rs Gang: Expect the Unexpected (2020, Sinking City): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sebastien Ammann: Resilience (2018 [2020], Skirl): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Lucian Ban/John Surman/Mat Maneri: Transylvanian Folk Songs (2020, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
  • Will Bernard: Freelance Subversives (2020, Ropeadope): [r]: B
  • Body Count: Carnivore (2020, Century Media): [r]: B+(**)
  • Daniel Carter/Patrick Holmes/Matthew Putman: Whoadie (2018-19 [2020], 577): [r]: C+
  • Emmet Cohen Featuring Benny Golson & Albert "Tootie" Heath: Masters Legacy Series Volume 3 (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
  • Emmet Cohen Featuring George Coleman: Masters Legacy Series Volume 4 (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(***)
  • Dinosaur: To the Earth (2019 [2020], Edition): [r]: B+(**)
  • Dave Douglas: Dizzy Atmosphere: Dizzy Gillespie at Zero Gravity (2019 [2020], Greenleaf Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lajos Dudas: The Lake and the Music (2019 [2020], JazzSick): [r]: B+(***)
  • Freddie Gibbs & the Alchemist: Alfredo (2020, ESGN/ALC/Empire): [r]: B+(*)
  • GoGo Penguin: GoGo Penguin (2020, Blue Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Human Feel: The Tower Tapes #5 (2019 [2020], Jazz Club Ferrara): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Anne Mette Iversen Quartet + 1: Racing a Butterfly (2020, Bjurecords): [bc]: A-
  • KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl (2020, Keiya): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lady Gaga: Chromatica (2020, Interscope): [r]: B+(***)
  • John Law's Congregation: Configuration (2018 [2020], Ubuntu Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Little Simz: Drop 6 (2020, Age 101, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sabir Mateen/Patrick Holmes/Federico Ughi: Survival Situation (2018 [2020], 577): [r]: B+(**)
  • Medhane: Full Circle (2020, TBHG, EP): [bc]: B
  • Medhane: Cold Water (2020, TBHG): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Mike and the Moonpies: Touch of You: The Lost Songs of Gary Stewart (2020, Prairie Rose): [r]: B+(**)
  • Eva Novoa: Satellite Quartet (2017 [2020], Fresh Sound New Talent): [r]: B+(*)
  • Kurt Rosenwinkel Trio: Angels Around (2020, Heartcore): [r]: B+(**)
  • Run the Jewels: RTJ4 (2020, Jewel Runners/RBC/BMG): [r]: A-
  • Matthew Shipp: The Piano Equation (2020, Tao Forms): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sunwatchers: Oh Yeah? (2020, Trouble in Mind): [r]: B
  • Chad Taylor Trio: The Daily Biological (2019 [2020], Cuneiform): [dl]: A-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Bobby Shew/Bill Mays: Telepathy (1978 [2019], Fresh Sound): [r]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • Big Joe: Keep Rocking and Swinging (1977, Live and Love): [r]: B+(***)
  • Dave Burrell: Black Spring (1977, Marge): [r]: B+(**)
  • Emmet Cohen Featuring Jimmy Cobb: Masters Legacy Series Volume 1 (2017, Cellar Live): [r]: B+(***)
  • Emmet Cohen Featuring Ron Carter: Masters Legacy Series Volume 2 (2017 [2018], Cellar Live): [r]: B+(**)
  • Emmet Cohen: Dirty in Detroit (2017 [2018], self-released): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lajos Dudas: Radio Days: Birthday Edition 75 (2016, JazzSick): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lajos Dudas: Some Great Songs Vol. 2 (2017, JazzSick): [r]: B+(**)
  • If Deejay Was Your Trade: The Dreads at King Tubby's 1974-1977 (1974-77 [1994], Blood & Fire): [r]: A-
  • Mister Charlie's Blues (1926-1938) (1926-38 [1970], Yazoo): [dl]: B+(**)
  • Ogún Meji Duo: #BlackLivesMatter (2014, CFG Multimedia): [os]: B+(***)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Caterpillar Quartet: Threads (ESP-Disk) [06-26]
  • Whit Dickey: Morph (ESP-Disk, 2CD)
  • Jean-Marc Foussat/Daunik Lazro/Evan Parker: Café Oto 2020 (Fou)
  • The Mark Harvey Group: A Rite for All Souls (1971, Americas Musicworks, 2CD) [07-17]
  • Alister Spence: Whirlpool: Solo Piano (Alister Spence Music, 2CD) [07-24]

Monday, June 08, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

While this week was unfolding, I've been reading a book by Sarah Kendzior: Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America. She is a journalist based in St. Louis, with a Ph.D. in anthropology and a specialty in post-Soviet Central Asia and its descent into mafia capitalism and oligarchy. She sees Trump as part of a vast criminal enterprise, anchored in Russia, which she insists on describing as "hostile to America." I think she has that analysis ass-backwards. Capitalism's driving force everywhere is greed, which constantly pushes the limits of custom and law. The only thing that separates capitalists from criminals is a democratic state that regulates business and enforces limits on destructive greed. The former Soviet Union failed to do that, but the United States has a checkered history as well, with the major entrepreneurs of the 19th century known as Robber Barons, and a sustained conservative assault on the regulatory state at least since 1980. Trump may be closer to the Russian oligarchs than most American capitalists because of his constant need to raise capital abroad, but he is hardly Putin's stooge. Rather, they share a common desire to suppress democratic regulation of capital everywhere, as well as an itch for suppressing dissent. Arguing that the latter is anti-American (treason even) ignores the fact that that's a big part of the program of the reigning political party in the US.

Kendzior's arguments in this regard annoy me so much I could go on, explaining why the supposed US-Russia rivalry is based on false assumptions, and why Democrats are hurting themselves by obsessing on the Trump/Russia connection. I was, after all, tempted at several points to give up on the book. But I stuck with it: it's short, and anyone who despises Trump that much is bound to have some points. Also, I lived in St. Louis a few years myself, so was curious what she had to say about her battleground state. My interest paid off with her discussion of the 2014 protests against police brutality in Ferguson, a majority-black suburb just north of St. Louis with a predominantly white police force that was largely self-funded by arrests and fines. This is history, but it's also today in microcosm (pp. 164-166):

Understanding Ferguson is not only a product of principle but of proximity. The narrative changes depending on where you live, what media you consume, who you talk to, and who you believe. In St. Louis, we still live in the Ferguson aftermath. There is no real beginning, because [Michael] Brown's death is part of a continuum of criminal impunity by the police toward St. Louis black residents. There is no real end, because there are always new victims to mourn. In St. Louis, there is no justice, only sequels.

Outside of St. Louis, Ferguson is shorthand for violence and dysfunction. When I go to foreign countries that do not know what St. Louis is, I sometimes joke, darkly, that I'm from a "suburb of Ferguson." People respond like they are meting a witness of a war zone, because that is what they saw on TV and on the internet. What they missed is that Ferguson was the longest sustained civil rights protest since the 1960s. The protest was fought on principle because in St. Louis County, law had long ago divorced itself from justice, and when lawmakers abandon justice, principle is all that remains. The criminal impunity many Americans are only discovering now -- through the Trump administration -- had always structured the system for black residents of St. Louis County, who had learned to expect a rigged and brutal system but refused to accept it.

In the beginning, there was hope that police would restrain themselves because of the volume of witnesses. But there was no incentive for them to do so: no punishment locally, and no repercussions nationally. Militarized police aggression happened nearly every night, transforming an already traumatic situation into a showcase of abuse. The police routinely used tear gas and rubber bullets. They arrested local officials, clergy, and journalists for things like stepping off the sidewalk. They did not care who witnessed their behavior, even though they knew the world was watching. Livestream videographers filmed the chaos minute by minute for an audience of millions. #Ferguson, the hashtag, was born, and the Twitter followings of those covering the chaos rose into the tens of thousands. But the documentation did not stop the brutality. Instead, clips were used by opponents of the protesters to try to create an impression of constant "riots" that in reality did not occur. The vandalism and arson shown on cable news in an endless loop were limited to a few nights and took place on only a few streets.

National media had pounced on St. Louis, parachuting in when a camera-ready crisis was rumored to be impending, leaving when the protests were peaceful and tame. Some TV crews did not bother to hide their glee at the prospect of what I heard one deem a real-life Hunger Games, among other flippant and cruel comments. The original protests, which were focused on the particularities of the abusive St. Louis system, became buried by out-of-town journalists who found out-of-town activists and portrayed them as local leaders. The intent was not necessarily malicious, but the lack of familiarity with the region led to disorienting and insulting coverage. Tabloid hype began to overshadow the tragedy. Spectators arrived from so many points of origins that the St. Louis Arch felt like a magnet pulling in fringe groups from around the country: Anonymous and the Oath Keepers and the Nation of Islam and the Ku Klux Klan and the Revolutionary Communist Party and celebrities who claimed they were out of deep concern and not to get on television. Almost none of the celebrities ever returned.

In fall 2014, the world saw chaos and violence, but St. Louis saw grief. Ask a stranger in those days how they were doing and their eyes, already red from late nights glued to the TV or internet, would well up with tears. Some grieved stability, others grieved community, others simply grieved the loss of a teenage boy, unique and complex as any other, to a system that designated him a menace on sight. But it was hard to find someone who was not grieving something, even if it was a peace born of ignorance. It was a loss that was hard to convey to people living outside of the region. I covered the Ferguson protests as a journalist, but I lived it as a St. Louisan. Those are two different things. It is one thing to watch a region implode on TV. It is another to live within the slow-motion implosion. When I would share what I witnessed, people kept urging me to call my representative, and I would explain: "But they gassed my representative too."

By the way, here are the latest section heads (as of 7:37 PM CDT Sunday) in The New York Times' Live Updates on George Floyd Protests:

  • Majority of the Minneapolis City Council pledges to dismantle the Police Department
  • Trump sends National Guard troops home
  • New York's mayor pledges to cut police funding and spend more on social services
  • Democratic lawmakers push for accountability, but shy away from calls to defund the police
  • Barr says he sees no systemic racism in law enforcement
  • Romney joins protesters in Washington.
  • Protesters march through Manhattan, calling for an end to police violence.
  • Thousands turn out in Spokane, Wa., to protest "a virus that's been going on for 400 years."
  • Biden will meet with the family of George Floyd in Houston.
  • The view from above: aerial images of protests across the country. [link]
  • A Confederate status is pulled down during a protest in Virginia
  • Global protests against racism gain momentum.
  • An officer shot an anti-bias expert who was trying to end a clash at a protest in San Jose, Calif.

A couple items there look like major breaks with the past. While the "progressive" mayors of Minneapolis and New York seems to have spent much of the last week being intimidated by the police forces that supposedly work for them, the balance of political forces in both cities may have shifted to viewing the police as the problem, not the solution. I started off being pretty skeptical of the protests, and indeed haven't been tempted to join them. But it does appear that they're making remarkable progress. And while I abhor any violence associated with the protests, one should never allow such noise to distract from the core issue of the protests. Indeed, given that so much of the violence the media likes to dwell on is directly caused by the police and the government's other paramilitary forces, it's hard not to see that the only way this ever gets resolved is by restoring trust and justice -- which is to say, by radically reforming how policing is done in America.

I expected such sprawl at the start of the week that I decided not to bother organizing sublists. Still, some fell out during the process, but I haven't gone back and organized as many as might make sense. In particular, there are several scattered pieces on the "jobs report": the one by Robert J Shapiro is the most important, but I got to it after several others.

This wound up running a day late. Only a couple links below came out on Monday, and I tried to only pick ones that added to stories I already had (e.g., I added Yglesias' piece on economic reporting, but didn't pick up the one on Biden's polling).

Here's a piece of artwork from Ram Lama Hull occasioned by the recent demonstrations. I pulled this particular one (out of many) from his Facebook page. Some are also on Imgur.

Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that has come up a lot recently, as it makes it very difficult to hold police officers liable for their acts, even the use of excessive or deadly force. For example:

Parting tweet (from Angela Belcamino):

Who else but Trump could bring back the 1918 pandemic, the 1929 Great Depression, and the 1968 race riots all in one year?

Some scattered links this week:

Friday, June 05, 2020

Questions and Answers

Expanded blog post.

I asked Michael Tatum to take a look at my first batch of Questions and Answers. He helped flag some necessary edits before I posted them early this week. He also suggested that instead of just linking to them (as I did again above), I should have included them directly in the blog. I don't plan on doing that as a matter of course, but this time I reckon they could use a little more exposure. For one thing I got zero new questions (here's the form) since they went up.

I imagine there are hundreds (if not thousands) of similar offers scattered around the web. I've felt a need for some kind of feedback for a long time, but found that comment systems were more work to maintain than they're worth. Two features are direct antecedents to mine: Greil Marcus's Ask Greil), and Robert Christgau's Xgau Sez. Joe Levy suggested the latter as a way of generating some public interest in Christgau's then-new Duke University Press essay collections, Is It Still Good to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism 1967-2017 and Book Reports: A Music Critic on His First Love, Which Was Reading.

Joe suggested "Ask Greil" as a model, but when I looked at the implementation, I had some second thoughts. I adapted the news roll code to display the Q&A in 15-unit chunks, most recent first, stringing earlier pages together. ("Ask Greil" is in flat files, one per year.) I added tags to the data file, thinking that someday I could support more search options. (I'd like to eventually put them into the database, but didn't want to have to update it more often than I do.) I also added a captcha to cut down on spam questions. I recently adapted the Christgau code for my own site, adding a few more tags (but still not making good use of them).

My main change was to add a "keywords" field. I expected (or hoped) to get a broader range of questions than the music queries that predominate for Christgau and Marcus, and thought it would be a good idea to be able to easily sort my answers into topics. Still, four of the first five questions were on music, including one of those potentially tedious requests to elaborate on grades. A sixth question, which I didn't answer here, was really more of a tip (Whitney Rose) -- more properly answered in last week's Music Week. While my email is elsewhere on the site (and still works best if you want a direct answer), feel free to use the form for tips, comments, or occasional kind words.

I rather hope to see wide-ranging questions, one that provoke me to think, maybe even do a little research, although I'd be happy enough with ones where I can just rattle off experiences and opinions. I like to keep an open mind about where this is going. And I'd like some feedback to prod me along. Thanks, in advance.

Pick up questions and answers here.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, June archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33378 [33333] rated (+45), 209 [209] unrated (+0).

Post delayed a day because, well, a lot of things kept me from working on it on Monday. Frozen Sunday night, aside from adding Monday's unpacking.

A few weeks ago, I set up a form for asking questions. I finally decided I had enough to do the extra work of setting up an answer page, so Q&A is now a going concern. I've added a couple fields beyond what I did for Robert Christgau, but I'm not really using them yet. At some point, it should be possible to get selective lists based on keywords, or possibly other search methods.

One question I didn't answer was actually a tip, Jeopardy-style phrased as a question. Mongo asked if I had heard Whitney Rose's We Still Go to Rodeos ("the best country album I've heard so far this year"). No, I hadn't, but the obvious response was to listen to it, so it's in this week's list. I disagree, but my initial reaction was pretty similar to my initial underrating of Kalie Shorr's Open Book in 2019. Still, have major doubts it will ever catch up with the Lucinda Williams and Brandy Clark records (or Chicago Farmer, if he qualifies). I went on and sampled a few more recent alt-country albums, but didn't find anything really better.

Until those, most of what I listened to last week were old jazz albums. The first few were unheard items from the JazzTimes ballots I mentioned recently, at least until I got carried away with Paul Motian. Then I got into Max Roach, partly in response to one of the questions.

Got a rare rock record in the mail recently, with a hand-printed note explaining that Robert Christgau reviewed Thank Your Lucky Stars' debut album, Spinning Out of Orbit, in my one shot 2013 Black Friday Special, and hoping I might like the new one. I do. The CD is actually very nicely packaged, but has no presence on the web, and the note didn't even include an email address, so I have no idea how you'd go about buying a copy. (The old CD, which I haven't heard, is listed on Amazon, at $30.08, 1 copy left, with other vendor offers from $29.09.) Without an album cover available, I thought I'd try my old scanner -- an "all-in-one" Epson Stylus Photo RX580 -- only to find it doesn't work. (I replaced the 6 ink cartridges a while back, and now it's stuck in a mode where it insists on me first installing new ink cartridges before it does anything else. Two Ubuntu scanner programs fail to recognize it.) What I wound up doing was taking a picture with my cell phone, then running it through a bunch of rotate/shear/crop commands in Gimp. Very little margin on top to work with, but I managed to keep it even though I chopped off the other three edges. I'm real surprised it looks as good as it does.

I should mention that Joe Yanosik has written up Sonic Youth: A Consumer Guide to their live albums. They've released a bunch of them on Bandcamp. I had seen mention of a couple of them recently, but didn't realize there were this many, and after last year's release of Battery Park NYC, July 4th 2008 -- which Joe also includes, as an A+ -- I wasn't in a big hurry to go there. Nice that Joe has illuminated the way.

Alto saxophonist Lennie Niehaus (90) died last week. He's probably best known as the director of many Clint Eastwood soundtracks, but he was an important "West Coast cool jazz" musician, played for Stan Kenton 1952-59 (minus a stretch in the Army), and recorded a number of well-regarded (albeit a bit fancy for my taste) albums, especially in the 1950s, before focusing on soundtracks. I've heard a couple of his albums, and need to check out more.

English tenor saxophonist Don Weller (79) also died. I can't say that I know his work. I also heard that Sun Ra bassist Bill Davis died, but haven't found an obituary yet. Other recent musician deaths: Majek Fashek (57, Nigerian reggae singer), John Nzenze (80, Kenyan guitarist), Evaldo Gouveia (91, MPB singer-songwriter).

Horrors enough on Monday and Tuesday to get me to open Weekend Roundup as soon as I post this.

New records reviewed this week:

  • Caitlin Cannon: The TrashCannon Album (2020, Caitlin Cannon): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit: Reunions (2020, Southeastern): [r]: B+(*)
  • Carly Rae Jepsen: Dedicated Side B (2020, School Boy): [r]: B+(**)
  • Rent Romus/Heikki Koskinen/Life's Blood Ensemble: Manala (2019 [2020], Edgetone): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Whitney Rose: We Still Go to Rodeos (2020, MCG): [r]: B+(**)
  • Thank Your Lucky Stars: Girl in Her 29s (2020, Sounds Deevine): [r]: A-
  • Pam Tillis: Looking for a Feeling (2020, Stellar Cat): [r]: B+(*)
  • Bill Warfield and the Hell's Kitchen Funk Orchestra: Smile (2020, Planet Arts/43 Street): [cd]: B
  • Jaime Wyatt: Neon Cross (2020, New West): [r]: B+(*)

Old music:

  • Paul Bley/Paul Motian: Notes (1987 [1988], Soul Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Paul Bley: Reality Check (1994 [1996], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Paul Bley: Notes on Ornette (1996 [1997], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Paul Bley/Evan Parker/Barre Phillips: Sankt Gerold (1996 [2000], ECM): [r]: B+(***)
  • Paul Bley: Play Blue: Oslo Concert (2008 [2014], ECM): [r]: B+(*)
  • Clifford Brown/Max Roach: Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street (1956 [2002], Verve): [r]: A-
  • Miles Davis: Big Fun (1969-72 [2000], Columbia/Legacy, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
  • Booker Little: Booker Little 4 & Max Roach (1958 [1959], United Artists): [r]: B+(**)
  • Paul Motian: Conception Vessel (1972 [1973], ECM): [r]: B+(**)
  • Paul Motian: Tribute (1974 [1975], ECM): [r]: B+(***)
  • Paul Motian Trio: Le Voyage (1979, ECM): [r]: B+(**)
  • Paul Motian: Psalm (1981 [1982], ECM): [r]: B+(***)
  • Paul Motian: It Should've Happened a Long Time Ago (1984 [1985], ECM): [r]: B+(*)
  • Paul Motian Trio: Sound of Love: At the Village Vanguard (1995 [1997], Winter & Winter): [r]: A-
  • Paul Motian and the Electric Bebop Band: Flight of the Blue Jay (1996 [1997], Winter & Winter): [r]: B+(**)
  • Paul Motian: Trio 2000 + One (1997 [1998], Winter & Winter): [r]: B+(**)
  • Paul Motian and the E.B.B.B.: Europe (2000 [2001], Winter & Winter): [r]: B+(*)
  • Paul Motian and the E.B.B.B.: Holiday for Strings (2001 [2002], Winter & Winter): [r]: B+(**)
  • Paul Motian Trio 2000 + Two: Live at the Village Vanguard Volume III (2006 [2010], Winter & Winter): [r]: B+(***)
  • Paul Motian Trio 2000 + Two: On Broadway Volume 5 (2008 [2009], Winter & Winter): [r]: A-
  • The Odean Pope Saxophone Choir: The Saxophone Shop (1985 [1986], Soul Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Buddy Rich/Max Roach: Rich Versus Roach (1959 [1990], Mercury): [r]: B+(**)
  • Max Roach/Clifford Brown: The Best of Max Roach and Clifford Brown in Concert (1954 [1956], GNP): [r]: B+(***)
  • Max Roach: Max Roach + 4 (1956-57 [1990], Emarcy): [r]: A-
  • Max Roach: Jazz in 3/4 Time (1956-57 [1957], Emarcy): [r]: B+(*)
  • Max Roach: The Max Roach 4 Plays Charlie Parker (1957-58 [1995], Verve): [r]: B+(***)
  • Max Roach: Award-Winning Drummer (1958 [1960], Time): [r]: B+(**)
  • Max Roach: Percussion Bitter Sweet (1961, Impulse!): [r]: B+(***)
  • Max Roach: It's Time (1962, Impulse!): [r]: B+(***)
  • Max Roach Quartet: Speak, Brother, Speak! (1962 [1963], Fantasy): [r]: A-
  • Max Roach: The Max Roach Trio Featuring the Legendary Hasaan (1964 [1965], Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Max Roach: Drums Unlimited (1965-66 [1966], Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Max Roach: Members, Don't Git Weary (1968, Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Max Roach Quartet: Pictures in a Frame (1979, Soul Note): [r]: B+(**)
  • Max Roach: M'Boom (1979 [1980], Columbia): [r]: B+(***)
  • Max Roach: Live in Berlin (1984 [2009], Jazzwerkstatt): [r]: B+(***)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • John Finbury: Quatro (Green Flash Music)
  • Madre Vaca: Winterreise (Madre Vaca) [06-04]
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio (Whirlwind) [06-19]

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Lot of articles below on the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the demonstrations that have ensued, and reports of violence (especially in Minneapolis). I have no idea how extensive the violence is, let alone who's responsible for what, but I'm skeptical of reports that the nation is being torn apart, let alone that urban America is being reduced to rubble. I remember the riots of the late 1960s, Kerner Commission Report, and the backlash Nixon so profited from. I doubt this is anything like that, but should also note that the degree of anger over this particular killing -- as you well know there have been dozens that have risen to cause célčbre status, and hundreds that remain obscure. There was, for instance, a completely peaceful demonstration here in Wichita that drew some 2,000 people -- much more than I would have imagined. (No link, as The Wichita Eagle won't let me get past the headline, even with a subscription -- making it pointess to pass the link along.) What does make the current situation worse than in the 1960s is malignant lout in the White House, his toxic party, and their deluded followers. We used to jeer LBJ with "how many kids did you kill today?" but there's no point taunting Trump like that: not only doesn't he care, he's likely to take it as a challenge.

Speaking of the dead, the coronavirus death count in the United States topped 100,000 this week. It topped 10,000 on April 17, and 50,000 18 days later, on April 25. It took 32 days from there to double. The lockdown in Kansas has pretty much ended, although that makes me even more wary of going out. I do, however, have a doctor appointment on Monday, and have been assured they got their protocols together. May make a grocery run as well, as we're low on pretty much everything.

When I got up this morning, I played Down in the Basement (a "treasure trove of vintage 78s 1926-1937") and Maria Muldaur's Garden of Joy. From the former, I was especially struck by the continuing relevance of Bessie Brown's "Song from a Cotton Field." The latter ends with a 2009 remake of the Depression-era "The Panic Is On," with a new line for Obama. Couldn't find a YouTube link, but here's Spotify, if that helps. Here's the 1931 original, by Hezekiah & Dorothy Jenkins; I'm more familiar with a later version which drops the complaint about Prohibition and adds an optimistic like about FDR -- on a compilation somewhere, can't find the link now. I did find more recent ones: by Loudon Wainwright III (2010); Daddy Stovepipe (2013); and by Matt Rivers (2013).

Some scattered links this week:

Thursday, May 28, 2020

I was asked a question about Questlove's 100 albums list.

  1. Terence Trent d'Arby: Neither fish nor flesh [B+]
  2. Tower of Power: Live and In Living Color -[]
  3. James Brown: In the Jungle Groove [A+]
  4. Jeru the Damaja: The Sun Rises In The East []
  5. Jazzy Jeff & Will Smith: And In This Corner [B+]
  6. Gary Wilson: You Think You Really Know Me -[]
  7. J Dilla: Donuts [B]
  8. Wynton Marsalis: Live At Blues Alley []
  9. Young Black Teenagers: With The Young Black Teenagers -[]
  10. Syreeta: Stevie wonder presents Syreeta -[]
  11. London music works: Pee-Wee's Big Adventure Score -[]
  12. Jackson 5: Get It Together -[]
  13. Wu Tang: Enter the 36 Chambers [A-]
  14. Larry Young: Unity [A]
  15. Gil Scott-Heron: Reflections -[]
  16. Kali Uchis: Isolation [A-]
  17. Son of Bazerk: Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk []
  18. Diana Ross: Diana []
  19. Funkadelic: Let's Take It To The Stage [A-]
  20. Minnie Riperton: Come to my garden -[]
  21. Nina Simone: Nina Simone & Piano -[]
  22. The Meters: Look-Ka Py Py []
  23. Al Jarreau: Look to The Rainbow [C+]
  24. Tony Toni Tone: Sons of Soul []
  25. Jungle Brothers: Straight out the jungle [A-]
  26. Jill Scott: Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1 [**]
  27. The Isley Brothers: The Heat Is On [B+]
  28. Rick James: Street Songs [*]
  29. Los Lobos: Kiko [B+]
  30. Louis Jordan: Let the Good Times Roll [A-]
  31. The Beatnuts: Street Level []
  32. Sting: Nothing Like The Sun []
  33. Curtis Mayfield: Curtis/Live! -[]
  34. Brand Nubian: One for all [A-]
  35. Radiohead: Kid A [B]
  36. Cody Chesnutt: The Headphone Masterpiece [B+]
  37. Prince: The Truth -[]
  38. Stereolab: Dots & Loops [B]
  39. Common: Like Water for Chocolate [A-]
  40. Richard Pryor: That Nigger's crazy -[]
  41. The Avalanches: Since I left you [B+]
  42. Peter Rock & C.L. Smooth: Mecca & The soul brother []
  43. Sade: Stronger than pride -[]
  44. Ahmad Jamal Trio: The Awakening []
  45. Erykah Badu: New Amerykah Part one [***]
  46. The Beatles: Revolver [A]
  47. Tears for Fears: The seeds of love [B-]
  48. Herbie Hancock: Thrust [**]
  49. Max Roach: Percussion Bitter Sweet []
  50. The Police: Reggatta De Blanc [B+]
  51. Ultramagnetic MCs: Critical Beatdown []
  52. Fiona Apple: Tidal []
  53. Fela Kuti: Beasts of No Nation [B]
  54. The Pharcyde: Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde [B-]
  55. Joni Mitchell: The Hissing of the Summer Laws [B-]
  56. Clipse: Hell Hath No Fury [A-]
  57. Marvin Gaye: Here, My Dear [A-]
  58. Graham Central Station: Release Yourself -[]
  59. Amy Winehouse: Back To Black [**]
  60. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth: Pleasure -[]
  61. Earth, Wind & Fire: All 'N All [B+]
  62. John Coltrane: Coltrane Plays the Blues [B+]
  63. Eugene McDaniels: Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse -[]
  64. Talking Heads: Remain in Light [A+]
  65. Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill [A-]
  66. Led Zepplin: Physical Graffiti [B+]
  67. The Time: What Time is it? [B+]
  68. Slum Village: Fantastic Vol 2 []
  69. Sly & the Family Stone: Fresh [A-]
  70. Max Roach: Drums Unlimited []
  71. Fishbone: Fishbone -[]
  72. Stevie Wonder: Talking Book [A]
  73. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Electric Ladyland [A]
  74. James Brown: Revolution of the mind: Live at the Apollo Vol3 -[]
  75. The Beatles: Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band [A]
  76. Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life [A-]
  77. Miles Davis: On the Corner [***]
  78. John Coltrane: A Love Supreme [A+]
  79. Stevie Wonder: Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants [C+]
  80. The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds [A+]
  81. Janet Jackson: Control [*]
  82. Ice Cube: Amerikkka's Most Wanted -[]
  83. Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique [B+]
  84. The Police: Synchronicity [A-]
  85. Miles Davis: Nefertiti [A-]
  86. Marvin Gaye: What's Going On [A-]
  87. Bill Withers: + 'Justements -[]
  88. Prince: Parade: Music from the motion picture Under the Cherry Moon [A-]
  89. Sly & The Family Stone: There's a Riot Going On [A]
  90. Michael Jackson: Thriller [A]
  91. Stevie Wonder: Music Of My Mind [B+]
  92. A Tribe Called Quest: Midnight Marauders [A-]
  93. Prince: 1999 [A-]
  94. D'Angelo: Voodoo [A-]
  95. De La Soul: De La Soul Is Dead [C+]
  96. Rufus: Ask Rufus -[]
  97. Michael Jackson: Off The Wall [A]
  98. Slum Village: Fan-Tas-Tic Vol 1 -[]
  99. Public Enemy: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back [A+]
  100. Average White Band: Person To Person -[]

Monday, May 25, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, May archive (finished).

Music: Current count 33333 [33277] rated (+56), 209 [214] unrated (-5).

Played a lot of old jazz last week. I mostly started with albums that were nominated by JazzTimes in reader polls to select the best albums of the 1970s and 1980s, but once I got into an artist's oeuvre I let myself wander. A couple of these albums were singled out by Chris Monsen as among the ten best of the 1980s, and they fared considerably better than average. I was particularly on the lookout for ECM releases, as they've only recently become available on Napster. Dozens more records on the list, so I may stick with this for a while.

I'm not giving up on new records -- more like pacing myself. I am still maintaining my tracking and metacritic files. They're just not inspiring me to check out a lot of albums at the moment.

Rated count includes a few records I missed counting in previous weeks, but mostly reflects that I rarely gave records a second play (especially old jazz). More exposure could lift a few of them -- especially among the Sonny Rollins releases, given that I have The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (1962-64, 6CD) at A-, and Gary Giddins' expert selection from the Milestones (1972-2000), with one song per album, Silver City, at A+.

This is the last Monday of May, so Streamnotes (May, 2020) is wrapped up. I noticed that I had missed doing the indexing for April, so fixed that. I still haven't done the indexing for the last two Book Roundups, so need to work on that. I also have enough Questions to start trying to write up some answers. Should have some of them by the end of the week.

PS: Thought I had got through a week with no major jazz or pop deaths to report, but found out about Jimmy Cobb (91) just after I posted. Also missed Mory Kanté (70).

New records reviewed this week:

  • The Dream Syndicate: The Universe Inside (2020, Anti-): [r]: B+(*)
  • Steve Earle: Ghosts of West Virginia (2020, New West): [r]: B+(***)
  • Joel Harrison + 18: America at War (2019 [2020], Sunnyside): [r]: B+(***)
  • Alain Mallet: Mutt Slang II: A Wake of Sorrows Engulfed in Rage (2018 [2020], Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Ted Moore Trio: The Natural Order of Things (2019 [2020], Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Shelly Rudolph: The Way We Love (2010-17 [2020], OA2): [cd]: B

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Apala: Apala Groups in Nigeria 1967-70 (1967-70 [2020], Soul Jazz): [r]: B+(*)
  • Eddie Russ: Fresh Out (1974 [2019], Soul Jazz): [r]: B

Old music:

  • Muhal Richard Abrams: Young at Heart/Wise in Time (1969 [1996], Delmark): [r]: B+(**)
  • Muhal Richard Abrams: Think All, Focus One (1994 [1995], Black Saint): [r]: B+(***)
  • Muhal Richard Abrams: Song for All (1995 [1997], Black Saint): [r]: B+(***)
  • George Adams: Sound Suggestions (1979, ECM): [r]: B+(*)
  • George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet: Live at Montmartre (1985 [1986], Timeless): [r]: B+(**)
  • Art Ensemble of Chicago: Bap-Tizum (1972 [1973], Atlantic): [r]: B
  • Art Ensemble of Chicago: Nice Guys (1978 [1979], ECM): [r]: B+(***)
  • Art Ensemble of Chicago: <Full Force (1980, ECM): [r]: B+(***)
  • Art Ensemble of Chicago: The Third Decade (1984 [1985], ECM): [r]: B+(**)
  • Tim Berne Sextet: The Ancestors (1983, Soul Note): [r]: B+(*)
  • Tim Berne: Mutant Variations (1983 [1984], Soul Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Arthur Blythe: Blythe Spirit (1981, Columbia): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy: I Only Have Eyes for You (1985, ECM): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy: Avant Pop (1986, ECM): [r]: A-
  • Tommy Flanagan: Thelonica (1982 [1983], Enja): [r]: B+(**)
  • Charlie Haden/Paul Motian Feat. Geri Allen: Etudes (1987 [1988], Soul Note): [yt]: A-
  • Jimmy Lyons: Other Afternoons (1969 [1979], Affinity): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jimmy Lyons Quintet: Wee Sneezawee (1983 [1984], Black Saint): [r]: A-
  • Jimmy Lyons Quintet: Give It Up (1985, Black Saint): [r]: B+(***)
  • Oregon: Oregon (1983, ECM): [r]: B
  • Oregon: Crossing (1984 [1985], ECM): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sonny Rollins: With the Modern Jazz Quartet (1951-53 [1982], Prestige/OJC): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins [Volume 1] (1956 [1957], Blue Note): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins Volume 2 (1957, Blue Note): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins Plays (1956-57 [2010], Essential Music Group): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sonny Rollins Featuring Jim Hall: The Quartets (1962 [1986]. RCA Bluebird): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sonny Rollins/Don Cherry Quartet: The Complete 1963 Copenhagen Concert (1963 [2014], Doxy, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sonny Rollins & Don Cherry: Live at the Olympia '63 (1963 [2010], Master Classics): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sonny Rollins: Live in Tokyo, Japan '63 (1963 [2010], Master Classics): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins and Co. 1964 (1964 [1995], RCA Bluebird): [r]: A-
  • Sonny Rollins: Horn Culture (1973, Milestone): [r]: A-
  • Sonny Rollins: The Cutting Edge (1974, Milestone): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sonny Rollins: Easy Living (1977, Milestone): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sonny Rollins: Don't Stop the Carnival (1978, Milestone): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sonny Rollins: Don't Ask (1979, Milestone): [r]: B
  • Sonny Rollins: Love at First Sight (1980, Milestone): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sonny Rollins: No Problem (1981, Milestone): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sonny Rollins: Reel Life (1982, Milestone): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sonny Rollins: The Solo Album (1985, Milestone): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sonny Rollins: Old Flames (1993, Milestone): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kenny Wheeler: Gnu High (1975 [1976], ECM): [r]: B+(***)
  • Kenny Wheeler: Around 6 (1979 [1980], ECM): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kenny Wheeler: Double, Double You (1983 [1984], ECM): [r]: A-

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Sara Serpa: Recognition (Biophilia) [06-05]

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Robert Christgau wrote an impassioned piece last week on why it matters for people to vote for Biden and the Democrats against Trump and the Republicans in November. You can find it here and here -- scroll down to the last question and answer. I agree substantively, but have a few quibbles.

First, I gagged on the phrase "criminally stupid." Stupid, maybe, but that isn't (and shouldn't be) a crime. Gauging the importance of any election requires both a lot of information and a good sense of political dynamics over time. How difficult it is should be clear from our different estimates and prognoses of what a Trump victory would mean. (Which, just to be clear, don't diminish our agreement that this election is "crucial" and that if it goes the wrong way a lot of very bad things will happen.)

For instance: "Abortion will end, feminism atrophy, gay rights shrivel." If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, states will be free to outlaw abortion (and for that matter birth control), but only a few states will. Same with LGBTQ rights. The effect will be to undermine rights that currently all Americans share, but unless this can be followed up with new federal legislation the effect will be to make red and blue states diverge further. Granted, if Republicans win by landslides (augmented or enabled by gerrymandering and voter suppression, which is the only way that seems possible) they might be able to rewrite federal law to force their views on blue states. They might even amend the constitution to get rid of parts they don't like (although most likely they'll be happy enough to have their packed courts read the constitution their way).

None of this woud cause feminism to "atrophy": if anything, it will make it sharper and more necessary. Indeed, while we prefer not to speak of it, one thing that invariably happens is that when power tilts one direction, resistance grows. A lot of bad things have happened since 2016, but resistance has grown, both in numbers and in clarity and resolve. The lines about what Hillary would have done differently aren't very convincing -- especially the one about billionaires, because while she was chummy with different ones than Trump was, she was always very deferential to them (as were Democrats like Obama and Biden). At least with Trump as president, we don't have to go through this election defending her. I'm not a person who believes that things have to get worse before they can get better, but I do recognize that people often learn things only the hard way. I voted for Hillary even though I thought she was fucking awful, because I understood how much worse Trump was, but also because I thought we'd be better off starting from her as a baseline than we'd be with Trump.

Obviously, I think that with Biden vs. Trump, as well. I voted for Bernie Sanders, and Biden was one of my least favorite candidates, so I'm not happy he's the nominee, but I'm also not very unhappy with the way the race has shaped up. Aside from the necessity of beating Trump and the Republican ticket -- which in terms of policy (if not personality) if anything worse than Trump -- the second most important thing for me is to advance the ideas of the left. While Sanders and others have made remarkable progress, it was clear that they have not swayed the powers in the party, and that the latter would stop at nothing (including self-defeat) to keep control of the Democratic Party. With Biden we have a seat at the table to argue for policies on their merits, and we shouldn't have to spend much of our energy fighting off internecine attacks from the right. Nothing is certain, but as I keep insisting, the answers to our major problems are on the left. Biden needs answers as much as we do.

The Democratic Primary in Hawaii went for Joe Biden (63.23%), over Bernie Sanders (36.77%). You can draw either conclusion from this. On the one hand, Biden has drawn consistent majorities everywhere since shortly after Super Tuesday, and there's no real chance he's going to weaken. On the other hand, there's still a sizable bloc of Democrats who think we can do better, and that too -- despite the campaign blackout and Bernie's own endorsement of Biden -- shows no sign of weakening.

Some scattered links this week:

   Mar 2001