Latest Notebook Entries
Index
Latest

2020
  Jan
2019
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2018
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2017
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2016
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2015
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2014
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2013
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2012
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2011
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2010
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2009
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2008
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2007
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2006
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2005
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2004
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2003
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2002
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2001
  Dec
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, January archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 32640 [32614] rated (+26), 228 [229] unrated (-1).

Three days late with this, but the cutoff was late Sunday night, so this is still an honest week's listening report. While I was not honoring my self-imposed schedule, I did continue to listen, so my scratch file for next week includes an additional 21 records -- a pace which will probably top 40 next week. Maybe more: it's tempting to run late next week so I can close January near the end of the month (instead of final Monday, the 27th this year). I usually do my freeze exercise the end of January: that being my signal to stop monitoring EOY lists and move on to the new year.

Actually, you'll find my first 2020 A- record below, as well as a few more 2020 releases. Most of the CDs in my promo queue are still future releases, so I'm noting release dates in cases that aren't out yet. I noticed on Facebook Phil Freeman noting that he already has over 100 promo records in his 2020 spreadsheet. I have a quarter of that, but might not be so far behind if I downloaded all the links that cross my mail. Thus far I've done none, but I am pleased to be getting mail from Astral Spirits now.

I've added quite a bit of jazz to my EOY Aggregate, including the NPR Jazz Critics Poll totals for new albums and reissues, plus about two-thirds of the critic ballots -- my first pass rule was to only list critics I had listed in previous years. This has pushed Kris Davis' poll-winning Diatom Ribbons to 33rd overall, the top-rated jazz album. I re-played the record when the poll dropped, but didn't feel like raising my initial B+(***) grade. I have maybe a dozen more records I feel like I should retry -- mostly Christgau picks that I liked but didn't spend much time with on first pass, like: Danny Brown, Stella Donnelly, The National, The Paranoid Style, Purple Mountains, Rapsody. Not much elsewhere has me wondering. Indeed, while my tracking file shows that there are literally thousands of unheard records that someone likes, I'm having a lot of trouble identifying ones that seem promising for me.

I also added in the totals from something called Pazz & Jop Rip-Off Poll. This is a fan poll which has existed for twenty-some years, but got more attention this year with Village Voice having abandoned their signature poll. I got an invite to join a while back, but never voted. I did, however, go through the ballots, and picked out fifty or so names I recognized -- mostly folks I had counted ballots from in past years. In the past I've been inclined to use P&J as an endpoint, testing how well my own lists anticipated the results, and in the process finding various biases of the critics polled. Still, nothing like what we see with this self-selected fan community. Purple Mountains won in a landslide, as both hip-hop and pop votes were pretty depressed. On the other hand, certain Christgau favorites did surprisingly well (e.g., The Paranoid Style at 17, 75 Dollar Bill at 8).


New records reviewed this week:

  • Harry Allen/Mike Renzi: Rhode Island Is Famous for You (2019, GAC): [r]: B+(***)
  • Beans on Toast: Cushty (2017, Xtra Mile): [r]: B+(**)
  • Beans on Toast: A Bird in the Hand (2018, Beans on Toast Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Beans on Toast: The Inevitable Train Wreck (2019, Beans on Toast Music): [r]: A-
  • Pip Blom: Boat (2019, Heavenly): [r]: B+(***)
  • Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York: Entity (2019 [2020], Libra): [cd]: B+(***) [02-14]
  • Gordon Grdina/Matt Mitchel/Jim Black: Gordon Grdina's Nomad Trio (2019 [2020], Skirl): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Scott Hamilton Quartet: Danish Ballads . . . & More (2019, Stunt): [r]: A-
  • Scott Hamilton: Jazz at the Club: Live From Societeit De Witte (2018 [2019], O.A.P.): [r]: B+(***)
  • Scott Hamilton: Street of Dreams (2019, Blau): [r]: B+(***)
  • Irreversible Entanglements: Homeless/Global (2019, International Anthem -EP): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Aly Keďta/Jan Galega Brönnimann/Lucas Niggli: Kalan Teban (2019 [2020], Intakt): [r]: A-
  • Peter Lemer Quintet: Son of Local Colour (2018 [2019], ESP-Disk): [r]: B+(**)
  • Andrew Munsey: High Tide (2019, Birdwatcher): [r]: B+(**)
  • Rex Orange County: Pony (2019, RCA): [r]: B

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Burnt Sugar/The Arkestra Chamber: Twentieth Anniversary Mixtapes: Groiddest Schnizzits: Volume One (2001-17 [2019], Trugroid/Avantgroidd): [r]: B+(***)
  • Burnt Sugar/The Arkestra Chamber: Twentieth Anniversary Mixtapes: Groiddest Schnizzits: Volume Three (1999-2017 [2019], Trugroid/Avantgroidd): [r]: B+(***)
  • Miles Davis: The Lost Quintet (1969 [2019], Sleepy Night): [r]: B+(**)
  • Smokey Haangala: Aunka Ma Kwacha (1976 [2019], Séance Center): [r]: B+(*)
  • ICP Tentet: Tetterettet (1977 [2019], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: A-
  • Sun Ra Arkestra: Live in Kalisz 1986 (1986 [2019], Languidity): [bc]: A-
  • Laurie Spiegel: Unseen Worlds (1991 [2019], Unseen Worlds): [r]: A-
  • June Tyson: Saturnian Queen of the Sun Ra Arkestra (1968-92 [2019], Modern Harmonic/Sundazed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hank Williams: The Complete Health & Happiness Recordings (1949 [2019], BMG, 2CD): [r]: A-

Old music:

  • Harry Allen Quartet: London Date (2015 [2016], Trio): [bc]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • John Ellis and Andy Bragen: The Ice Siren (Parade Light) [03-20]
  • Gilfema: Three (Sounderscore) [04-03]

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Last week's 6-candidate mini-debate reminded us that the Iowa Caucuses are fast approaching: February 3. It will be the first opportunity any Americans have to vote for candidates, the remnants of a field that has been reduced by half mostly through the whims of donors and the media. Unfortunately, the Americans voting will be Iowans. I was reminded of this by John Kerry, campaigning these days for Joe Biden. Kerry scored a surprise win in Iowa in 2004, kicking off an ill-fated campaign that resulted in a second term for GW Bush and Dick Cheney. As I recall, a lot of weight then was put on the idea of "electability," with many of Kerry's supporters figuring that Kerry's military record would sway voters against Bush. They miscalculated then, yet they're still in position to choose our fates.

I've been rather sanguine about the Democratic nominating process so far, but closing in on the start of actual voting, everyone is starting to get on my nerves. Even Sanders, who has by far the best analyses and positions, and the most steadfast character, but who I fear the media will never respect much less accept, and who will be hounded repeatedly with mistruths and misunderstandings. (The articles below that explicitly call out CNN will give you pretty glaring examples of what I mean.) Even Warren seems to have decided that the way to gain (or save) votes from Sanders is by resorting to half-truths and innuendo. I discuss one example below, but the whole pre-debate dust-up reflects very poorly on her, not least because it was done in ways that leave scars over trivial issues. Meanwhile Biden seems to be getting a free pass as he's blundering along.

I haven't been bothered much by the so-called moderates' plans, because no matter who wins it's effectively the right-most half of the party in Congress that will be passing laws and setting policy. But it does bother me that they've spent so much time trashing Medicare for All. In don't have a problem advocating half-measures to ameliorate the present system here and there, and figure that as a practical matter that's how reform will have to happen, but even the most reticent Democrat should realize that single-payer would be a better solution, and is a necessary goal. They really should acknowledge that, even if they doubt its practicality. But instead they're attacking it on grounds of costs and/or choice, which is simply ignorant.

I'm also rather sick of the "electability" issue, not least because I'm convinced that no one really understands the matter, because it's unprovable (except too late), and because it invites strong opinions based on nothing more than gut instincts. Still, I write about it several places below. Clearly, I have my own opinions on the matter, but can offer no more proof for them than you can for yours. I only wish to add here that one more thing I believe is that the election will turn not on whether the Democrats nominate one candidate or another but on whether Americans are so sick and tired of Trump they'll vote for any Democrat to spare themselves. And in that case, why not pick the better Democrat?


Some scattered links this week:

  • Damian Carrington: Ocean temperatures hit record high as rate of heating accelerates. Also wrote: Who do record ocean temperatures matter?

  • Jonathan Chait:

  • Aida Chávez: Bernie Sanders's lonely 2017 battle to stop Iran sanctions and save the nuclear deal.

  • Timothy Egan: Trump's evil is contagious: "The president has shown us exactly what happens when good people do nothing."

  • Lisa Friedman/Claire O'Neill: Who controls Trump's environmental policy?: "Among 20 of the most powerful people in government environment jobs, most have ties to the fossil fuel industry or have fought against the regulations they are now supposed to enforce." Names, faces, resumes. E.g., David Dunlap, Deputy head of science policy at EPA, former chemicals expert for Koch Industries, earlier VP of the Chlorine Institute (representing producers and distributors); currently oversees EPA's pollution and toxic chemical research.

  • Dan Froomkin:, in a series called Press Watch:

  • Masha Gessen: The willful ambiguity of Putin's latest power grab.

  • Anand Giridharadas: Why do Trump supporters support Trump? Book review of Michael Lind: The New Class War: Saving Democracy From the Managerial Elite. A fairly critical one, as the reviewer thinks Lind is a bit gullible when he attributes economic fears to Trump voters.

  • Maya Goodfellow: Yes, the UK media's coverage of Meghan Markle really is racist. We just finished streaming this season of The Crown, which reaffirmed our understanding that the British monarchy is a preposterous institution inhabited by ridiculous people. The series reached the 25-year mark in Elizabeth II's reign, finding her lamenting the steady decline of the nation and the decay of its imperial pretensions, to which we could only add that the next 25 (actually 40 now) years would be even worse for British pretensions of grandeur. Few things interest me less than the bickerings of the Windsors, or surprise me less than that the few who still cling to monarchist fantasies would resort to racism when pushed into a corner. Indeed, back in the 1990s when I worked for a while in England, I was repeatedly struck by the casual racism of white Brits (even those quick to frown on American racism).

  • Amy Goodman: Phyllis Bennis on Dem debate: Support for combat troop withdrawal is not enough to stop endless wars. Bennis noted:

    You know, I think one of the things that was important to see last night was that all of the Democratic candidates, including the right wing of the group, as well as the progressives, as well as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, were vying with each other essentially to see who could be more critical of the Iraq War. They all have said that at various points, but last night it was very overt that this was a critical point of unity for these candidates. Now, whether that says much about the prospects for the Democratic Party is not so clear, but I thought that was an important advance, that there's a recognition of where the entire base of half this country is, which is strongly against wars.

  • David Graeber: The center blows itself up: Care and spite in the 'Brexit election'.

  • Sean Illing: "Flood the zone with shit": How misinformation overwhelmed our democracy: "The impeachment trial probably won't change any minds. Here's why." Not his usual interview piece (although he cites interviews along the way). Makes many important points; for example:

    As Joshua Green, who wrote a biography of Bannon, explained, Bannon's lesson from the Clinton impeachment in the 1990s was that to shape the narrative, a story had to move beyond the right-wing echo chamber and into the mainstream media. That's exactly what happened with the now-debunked Uranium One story that dogged Clinton from the beginning of her campaign -- a story Bannon fed to the Times, knowing that the supposedly liberal paper would run with it because that's what mainstream media news organizations do.

    In this case, Bannon flooded the zone with a ridiculous story not necessarily to persuade the public that it was true (although surely plenty of people bought into it) but to create a cloud of corruption around Clinton. And the mainstream press, merely by reporting a story the way it always has, helped create that cloud.

    You see this dynamic at work daily on cable news. Trump White House adviser Kellyanne Conway lies. She lies a lot. Yet CNN and MSNBC have shown zero hesitation in giving her a platform to lie because they see their job as giving government officials -- even ones who lie -- a platform.

    Even if CNN or MSNBC debunk Conway's lies, the damage will be done. Fox and right-wing media will amplify her and other falsehoods; armies on social media, bot and real, will, too (@realDonaldTrump will no doubt chime in). The mainstream press will be a step behind in debunking -- and even the act of debunking will serve to amplify the lies.

  • Umair Irfan: Australia's weird weather is getting even weirder.

  • Malaika Jabali: Joe Biden is still the frontrunner but he doesn't have to be. "Biden is surviving on the myth that he's the most electable Democrat. He's not."

  • Louis Jacobson: The Democratic debates' biggest (electoral) losers, by the numbers. Elizabeth Warren usually makes well-reasoned arguments to advance carefully thought-out plans, but I found her debate point on the superior electability of women (or maybe just Amy Klobuchar and herself) to be remarkably specious and disingenuous. She said:

    I think the best way to talk about who can win is by looking at people's winning record. So, can a woman beat Donald Trump? Look at the men on this stage. Collectively, they have lost 10 elections. The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they've been in are the women, Amy and me.

    She went on to add that she was "the only person on this stage who has beaten an incumbent Republican any time in the past 30 years." The time limit was especially critical there, as Bernie Sanders defeated an incumbent Republican to win his House seat in November 1990 -- 30 years ago, if you do some rounding up. The time limit also excluded Joe Biden from comparison, as his first Senate win (defeating Republican incumbent J. Caleb Boggs), was in 1972, 48 years ago. One could also point out that Warren's win over "Republican incumbent" Scott Brown in 2012 wasn't really an upset: Brown had freakishly won a low turnout special election[1] in 2010 in a heavily Democratic state -- the only one that had rejected Reagan in 1984, one that hadn't elected a Republican to the Senate since Edward Brooke (1967-79) -- which made him easy pickings in 2012.

    PolitiFact ruled that Warren's quoted statement was true, but the only way they got to 10 was by counting three "ran and lost for president" elections -- two for Biden (1988 and 2008), one for Sanders (2016). Sanders had 6 of the other 7 losses, all from early in his career, the House race in 1988 (against Peter Smith, who he beat in 1990). The other loss was Pete Buttigieg's first race, in 2010 for Indiana state treasurer, against a Republican incumbent in a solidly Republican state. One could say lots of things about this data set, but Warren's interpretation is very peculiar and self-serving -- so much so I was reminded of the classic sociology text, How to Lie With Statistics.

    If you know anything about statistics, it's that sample size and boundary conditions are critical. Comparing two women against four men (one who's never run before, the other much younger so he's only managed three races, two of them for mayor) isn't much of a sample. The 30-years limit reduces it even more, excluding a period when Biden and Sanders were undefeated. That's a lot of tinkering just to make a point which is beside the point anyway. When I go back to Warren's quote, the first thing that strikes me is that the premise is unproven ("the best way to talk about who can win is by looking at people's winning record") and frankly suspect. I can think of dozens of counterexamples even within narrowly constrained contexts, but that just distracts from the larger problem: that running for president is vastly different from running for Senator or Mayor. (Biden's experience running for VP may count for something here, but not much.) Moreover, running against Trump poses unique challenges, just because he's so very different (as a campaigner, at least) from the Republicans these candidates have faced and (more often than not) beat in the past. In fact, the only data point we have viz. Trump is the 2016 presidential election, which showed that Hillary Clinton could not beat him (at least in 2016 -- and please spare me the popular vote numbers). Indeed, based on history, we cannot know what it takes to beat Donald Trump, but if you wish to pursue that inquiry, all you can really do is construct some metric of how similar each of the candidates is to Clinton. Even there, the most obvious points are likely to be misleading: Clinton is a woman, and had a long career as a Washington insider cozy to business interests (like, well, I hardly need to attach names here). On the other hand, Trump today isn't the same as Trump in 2016. Still, there is some data on this question, not perfect, but better than the mental gymnastics Warren is offering: X-vs-Trump polls, which pretty consistently show Biden and/or Sanders as the strongest head-to-head anti-Trump candidates. Maybe they could falter under the intense heat of a Trump assault. Maybe some other candidate, once they become better known, could do as well. But at least that polling is based on real, relevant data -- a far cry from Warren's ridiculous debate argument.

    [1]: Brown got 51.9% of 2,229,039 votes in 2010; in 2012, with Obama at the head of the ticket, Warren got 53.7% of 3,154,394 votes, so turnout in the special election was only 70.6% of what it was in the regular election. Aside from the turnout difference, Obama/Biden carried Massachusetts in 2012 with 60.7%, leading Warren by 7 points -- one could say she coasted in on their coattails. Warren did raise her margin in 2018, to 60.4%, a bit better than Clinton's 60.0% in 2016.

  • Sarah Jones:

  • Ed Kilgore: No Senator is less popular in their own state than Susan Collins: Yeah, but when she loses in 2020, she'll never have to go there again. She can hang her shingle out as a lobbyist and start collecting the delayed gratuities she is owed for selling out her constituents and what few morals she ever seemed to profess.

  • Catherine Kim: New evidence shows a Nunes aide in close conversation with Parnas.

  • Jen Kirby: Trump signed a "phase one" trade deal with China. Here's what's in it -- and what's not.

  • Ezra Klein: The case for Elizabeth Warren: Second in Vox's slow release of "best-case" arguments for presidential candidates, following Matthew Yglesias on Bernie Sanders.

  • Eric Levitz:

    • Joe Biden's agreeable, terrific, very good, not at all bad week.

      But, by all appearances, the fact that Biden is no longer capable of speaking in proper English sentences will be no impediment to his political success -- in the Democratic primary, anyway.

    • Bernie isn't trying to start a class war. The rich are trying to finish one.

    • Trump tax cuts gave $18 billion bonus to big banks in 2019.

    • Bernie Sanders' foreign policy is too evidence-based for the Beltway's taste.

      The fundamental cause of all this rabid irrationality is simple: America's foreign-policy consensus is forged by domestic political pressures, not the dictates of reason. Saudi Arabia's oil reserves may no longer be indispensable to the U.S. economy, but its patronage remains indispensable to many a D.C. foreign-policy professional. Israel may no longer be a fledgling nation-state in need of subsidization, but it still commands the reflexive sympathy of a significant segment of the U.S. electorate. Terrorism may not actually be a top-tier threat to Americans' public safety, but terrorist attacks generate more media coverage than fatal car accidents or deaths from air pollution, and thus, are a greater political liability than other sources of mass death. And the Pentagon may have spent much of the past two decades destabilizing the Middle East and green-lighting spectacularly exorbitant and ill-conceived weapons systems, but the military remains one of America's only trusted institutions, and its contracts supply a broad cross section of capital with easy profits, and a broad cross section of American workers with steady jobs.

    • 5 takeaways from the Democratic debate in Iowa:"

      1. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren's friendship has seen better days.
      2. In hindsight, Joe Biden probably shouldn't have voted for the Iraq War.
      3. Tom Steyer wants you to know that he will put his children's future above "marginal improvements for working people." [This, by the way, is an unfair and misleading dig at Steyer for opposing USMCA. Given that Steyer is famous as a billionaire, you might think "his children's future" has something to with the estate tax, but (like Sanders) he is rejecting USMCA for its failure to make any positive step toward limiting climate change.]
      4. Amy Klobuchar made one-half of a very good point. [But only as part of "an argument against tuition-free public college."]
      5. Iowans' fetishization of politeness (and/or, the Democratic field's political cowardice) is a huge gift to Biden.
  • Ian Millhiser:

  • Jim Naureckas/Julie Hollar: The big loser in the Iowa debate? CNN's reputation.

  • Heather Digby Parton: Lev Parnas spins wild tales of Trumpian corruption -- and we know most of them are true.

  • Daniel Politi: Trump targets Michelle Obama's signature school nutrition guidelines on her birthday.

  • Andrew Prokop: Lev Parnas's dramatic new claims about Trump and Ukraine, explained.

  • Matthew Rozsa: One-term presidents: Will Donald Trump end up on this ignominious list? Various things I'd qibble with, starting with "the list starts out well" -- I'd agree that John Adams and John Quincy Adams were great Americans with mostly distinguished service careers, but the former's Alien and Sedition Acts were one of the most serious assaults ever on democracy, and his lame duck period was such a disgrace that Trump will be hard-pressed to top -- and his decision to omit one-termers who didn't run for a second, like the lamentable John Buchanan. But this dovetails nicely with one of my pet theories: that American history can be divided into eras, each starting with a major two-term president (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and, sad to say, Reagan) and each ending with a one-term disaster (Adams, Buchanan, Hoover, Carter, Trump?). I can't go into detail here, but will note that each of these eras ended in profound partisan divides, based on real (or imagined) crises in faith in hitherto prevailing orthodoxies. That's certainly the case today. The Reagan-to-Trump era is anomalous in its drive to ever greater levels of inequality, corruption, and injustice, which have found their apotheosis in Trump.

  • Aaron Rupar:

  • William Saletan: Trump is a remorseless advocate of crimes against humanity.

  • Jon Schwarz: Key architect of 2003 Iraq War is now a key architect of Trump Iran policy: Remember David Wurmser? He was a major author of the 1996 neocon bible A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (which advocated "pre-emptive strikes against Iran and Syria"), author of the 1999 book Tyranny's Ally: America's Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein, worked for VP Dick Cheney, helped "stovepipe" intelligence in the build-up to the Iraq War. After Bush, he cooled his heels in the employ of right-wing think tanks, then landed a Trump administration job thanks to John Bolton.

  • Dylan Scott: The Netherlands has universal health insurance -- and it's all private: Sure, you can make that work. Their system is much like Obamacare, with an individual mandate and "a strongly regulated market," so "more than 99 percent" are covered, insurance companies have few options to rip off their customers. Also "almost every hospital is a nonprofit," and subject to government-imposed cost constraints. None of this proves that the Dutch system is better than other systems with single-payer insurance, but that it would be an improvement over America's insane system. TR Reid wrote an eye-opening book on health care systems around the world, showing there are lots of workable systems with various wrinkles: The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care (2009). I don't recall much from Netherlands there, but he did especially focus on Taiwan and Switzerland, because they were relative late-adopters, and their systems were implemented by right-of-center governments. The Swiss system basically kept everything private, but imposed strict profit limits. Until then, Switzerland had the second highest health care costs in the world (after the US, which it had tracked closely). Afterwards, Swiss costs held flat -- still the second most expensive, but trailing the US by a growing gap. So, sure, the Swiss came up with a better system than they had (or we have now), but one that's still much more expensive, with slightly worse results, than countries like France and Japan, which seem to have found a better balance between cost and care. [PS: For another data point, see Melissa Healy: US health system costs four times more to run than Canada's single-payer system.]

  • Tamsin Shaw: William Barr: The Carl Schmitt of our Time. You know, the eminent Nazi jurist and political theoretician.

  • Emily Shugerman: Trump just hired Jeffrey Epstein's lawyers: Alan Dershowitz and Kenneth Starr -- I'm not even sure Epstein was the low point of either legal career (even if we don't count Trump yet). Many more articles point this out. One that seems to actually be onto something is: Laura Ingraham praises Trump for putting together a legal team straight from "one of our legal panels".

  • Andrew Sullivan: Is there a way to acknowledge America's progress? He makes a fairly substantial list of things that do mark progress (certainly compared to when I was growing up), yet, as he's very aware, there's Trump, his cabal of Republicans, and the moneyed forces that feed and feast on his and their corruption. If those who oppose such trends tend to overstate the peril of the moment, it's because we see future peril so very clearly. Still, I reckon those who can't (or won't) see anything troublesome at all will find the hyperbole disconcerting, and I don't know what to do about that, beyond trying to remain calm and reasoned. This piece is followed by "But can they beat Trump?": where Sullivan tries to weigh the Democratic field purely on electability consideration. He's most withering on Warren, and most sympathetic to Biden, but gives Sanders the edge in the end. His list of positives is worth reading:

    I have to say he's grown on me as a potential Trump-beater. He seems more in command of facts than Biden, more commanding in general than Buttigieg or Klobuchar, and far warmer than Elizabeth Warren. He's a broken clock, but the message he has already stuck with for decades might be finding its moment. There's something clarifying about having someone with a consistent perspective on inequality take on a president who has only exacerbated it. He could expose, in a gruff Brooklyn accent, the phony populism, and naked elitism of Trump. He could appeal to the working-class voters the Democrats have lost. He could sincerely point out how Trump has given massive sums of public money to the banks, leaving crumbs for the middle class. And people might believe him.

    On the other hand, he argues that "the oppo research the GOP throws at him could be brutal," and gives examples that impress me very little. Most of them are sheer red-baiting, and I have to wonder how effective that ploy still is. Sure, many liberals of my generation and earlier find this very scary, but well after the Cold War such charges have lost much of their tangible fear -- even those liberals who still hate Russia must realize that the problem there now is oligarchs like Trump, not Bolshevik revolutionaries. Sure, Trump attacking Bernie is going to be nasty and brutish, but I expect it will be less effective than Trump attacking Biden as a crooked throwback to the Washington swamp of the Clintons and Obama -- charges that Bernie is uniquely safe from. There's also a third piece here, "Of royalty, choice, and duty," about you-know-what.

  • Chance Swaim/Jonathan Shorman: Kansas energy company abandons plans for $2.2 billion coal power plant. This is a pretty big victory for envrionment-conscious Kansans, but the irony is that it comes at a point when virtually all political obstacles against been overcome. In the end, the company decided that coal-fired electricity is simply a bad investment. Kansans have followed this story for more than a decade, at least since Gov. Kathleen Sebelius halted development on the plant expansion. After she left to join Obama's cabinet, her successor reversed course, and Gov. Sam Brownback was a big booster, but Obama's EPA became an obstacle. Under Trump, all the political stars have aligned to promote coal, but the economics have shifted so much that coal use is declining all across the nation. Despite frantic efforts by the Kochs and Trump, wind power has become a major source of electricity in Kansas (fossil fuels account for less than half of Kansas electricity -- nuclear also helps out there). And thanks to Obama's support for fracking, natural gas has also become cheaper relative to coal. So it looks like we've lucked out, and been spared from the worst effects of having so corrupt a political system in Topeka and Washington. For that matter, Sunflower Electric Power Corp. has lucked out too, being saved from such a bad investment.

  • Matt Taibbi: CNN's debate performance was villainous and shameful: "The 24-hour network combines a naked political hit with a cynical ploy for ratings."

  • Peter Wade:

  • Alex Ward:

  • Libby Watson: Let them fight!: "A great nation deserves a raucous and argumentative primary, not a fake demonstration of unity." Choice line here: "If Warren saw this as a way to innocuously smarm her way to the top . . ."

  • Matthew Yglesias: Joe Biden skates by again. Notes that none of the other candidates are really attacking Biden, who remains the front-runner:

    This pattern of behavior raises, to me, a real worry about a potential Biden presidency. Not that his talk of a post-election Republican Party "epiphany" is unrealistic -- every candidate in the field is offering unrealistic plans for change -- but that he has a taste for signing on to bad bargains. There's potential for a critique of Biden that isn't just about nitpicking the past or arguing about how ambitious Democrats should be in their legislative proposals, but about whether Biden would adequately hold the line when going toe-to-toe with congressional Republicans.

  • Karen Zraick: Jet crash in Iran has eerie historical parallel: You mean in 1988, when the US "accidentally" shot down an Iranian airliner, killing 290 people? Doesn't excuse this time, nor does this time excuse that time. Both were unintended consequences of deliberate decisions to engage in supposedly limited hostilities. They reflect the fact that the people who made those decisions are unable to foresee where their acts will take them and/or simply do not care. And while it's difficult to weigh relative culpability, the fact that the US alone sent its forces half-way around the world to screw up must count for something. For more examples, see Ron DePasquale: Civilian planes shot down: A grim history.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Daily Log

Wrote this as a facebook comment, in response to a post of a link to Matt Taibbi: CNN's Debate Performance Was Villainous and Shameful.

There's a classic sociology textbook called "How to Lie With Statistics." Warren's assertion about election histories could have been a prime example. When talking about the perfect record of women winning elections, the sample size was 2. When talking about male candidates losing elections, the sample size was 3 (Steyer has never run before, so has never lost). I can't imagine where she found 10 losses, except maybe in presidential primaries (Biden's run but never won one; Bernie's lost more than 10, but also won a fair number). Then she claims she was the only one to have defeated an incumbent Republican (in her case Scott Brown) in the last 30 years: the qualifier necessary because Sanders did just that in 1990, as Biden did in 1970 (beating J Caleb Boggs). Warren is capable of making sensible, well-reasoned points, so why resort to such specious chicanery?

Monday, January 13, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, January archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 32614 [32575] rated (+39), 229 [230] unrated (+0).

I've finally heard that NPR's Jazz Critics Poll will be published tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 10 AM. I've been given advance URLs for the poll results and for the accompanying essay by Francis Davis.

No time to write much more. December Streamnotes still not indexed. EOY Aggregate still a work in progress. My own EOY lists for Jazz and Non-Jazz still growing. Did play a couple of 2020 releases last week. Going back and forth between the 2020 and 2019 tracking files reminds me of the cartoon depictions of the decrepit old man representing the old year giving way to the new year baby. Every year we get older, but 2019 hurt more than most.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Franck Amsallem: Gotham Goodbye (2018 [2019], Jazz & People): [r]: B+(***)
  • John Bailey: Can You Imagine? (2019 [2020], Freedom Road): [cd]: B+(**) [01-20]
  • Lea Bertucci: Resonant Field (2017 [2019], NNA Tapes): [r]: B+(*)
  • Black to Comm: Seven Horses for Seven Kings (2019, Thrill Jockey): [r]: B
  • Boy Harsher: Careful (2019, Nude Club): [r]: A-
  • Bremer/McCoy: Utopia (2019, Luaka Bop): [r]: B
  • Diabel Cissokho: Rhythm of the Griot (2019, Kafou Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • Theo Croker: Star People Nation (2019, Sony Masterworks): [r]: B
  • Czarface: The Odd Czar Against Us (2019, Silver Age): [r]: A-
  • Czarface: A Double Dose of Danger (2019,Silver Age, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jeff Davis: The Fastness (2019, Fresh Sound New Talent): [r]: B+(***)
  • Bertrand Denzler/Dominic Lash: Pivot (2019, Spoonhunt): [bc]: B-
  • Mr Eazi: Life Is Eazi, Vol. 2: Lagos to London (2018, Banku Music)
  • Ekiti Sound: Abeg No Vex (2019, Crammed Discs): [r]: B+(**)
  • Go: Organic Orchestra & Brooklyn Raga Massive: Ragmala: A Garland of Ragas (2018 [2019], Meta, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
  • Laurence Hobgood: Tesseterra (2019, Ubuntu Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • Christopher Hollyday & Telepathy: Dialogue (2019 [2020], Jazzbeat Productions): [cd]: B+(**) [01-17]
  • Ibibio Sound Machine: Doko Mien (2019, Merge): [r]: B+(**)
  • Michael Janisch: Worlds Collide (2019, Whirlwind): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lauren Jenkins: No Saint (2019, Big Machine): [r]: B+(**)
  • Henry Kaiser/Anthony Pirog/Jeff Sipe/Tracy Silverman/Andy West: Five Times Surprise (2018 [2019], Cuneiform): [dl]: B+(**)
  • Egil Kalman & Fredrik Rasten: Weaving a Fabric of Winds (2019, Shhpuma): [r]: B
  • Sarathy Korwar: More Arriving (2019, The Leaf Label): [r]: A-
  • Kim Lenz: Slowly Speeding (2019, Blue Star): [r]: B+(**)
  • Christian Lillinger: Open Form for Society (2018 [2019], Plaist Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Brian Lynch Big Band: The Omni-American Book Club: My Journey Through Literature in Music (2019, Holistic MusicWorks): [r]: A-
  • Brad Mehldau: Finding Gabriel (2017-18 [2019], Nonesuch): [r]: B
  • Microtub: Chronic Shift (2018 [2019], Bohemian Drips): [r]: B
  • J. Pavone String Ensemble: Brick and Mortar (2019, Birdwatcher): [r]: B
  • The Regrettes: How Do You Love? (2019, Warner Brothers): [r]: B+(***)
  • Mark Ronson: Late Night Feelings (2019, RCA): [r]: B+(*)
  • Gary Smulyan & Ralph Moore Quintet: Bird's Eye Encounter! (2018 [2019], Fresh Sound): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jim Snidero: Project-K (2019 [2020], Savant): [cd]: B+(***) [01-24]
  • Earl Sweatshirt: Feet of Clay (2019, Tan Cressida/Warner, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Tuba Skinny: Some Kind-a-Shake (2018 [2019], self-released): [bc]: B+(***)
  • William Tyler: Goes West (2019, Merge): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Endless Boogie: Vol. I, II (2005 [2019], No Quarter, 2CD): [r]: A-
  • Martial Solal: And His Orchestra: 1956-1962 (1956-62 [2019], Fresh Sound): [r]: B+(**)
  • Horace Tapscott With the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra: Flight 17 (1978 [2019], Nimbus/Outernational): [bc]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Delfeayo Marsalis Uptown Jazz Orchestra: Jazz Party (Troubadour Jass) [02-07]
  • John Vanore: Primary Colors (Acoustical Concepts) [02-07]

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Weekend Roundup

As actual voting is just around the corner, I've started to stray from my no-campaign pledge. Part of this is that my wife has gotten much more involved, and is regularly reporting social media posts that rile her up. She's strong for Bernie, and I've yet to find any reason to argue with her. Several pieces below argue that only X can beat Trump. For the record, I don't believe that is true. I think any of the "big four" can win -- not that there won't be momentary scares along the way. Trump has some obvious assets that he didn't have in 2016: complete support of the Republican political machine, which has been remarkably effective at getting slim majorities to vote against their interests and sanity; so much money he'll be tempted to steal most of it; and even more intense love from his base. On the other hand, he has a track record this time, and he's never registered an instant where his approval rating has topped 44%. Plus I have this suspicion that one strong force that drives elections is fear of embarrassment. Thanks to the Hillary Clinton's unique path to the nomination, that worked for Trump in 2016, but no one on the Democratic side of the aisle is remotely as embarrassing as Trump -- well, Michael Bloomberg, maybe. He's the only "major" candidate I can see Trump beating. Indeed, if he somehow manages to buy the Democratic nomination, I could see myself voting for a third party candidate. I'm not saying he would be worse than Trump, but a Democratic Party under him would never be able to right the wrongs of the last 40+ years.

One indication of the current political atmosphere is that Trump's "wag the dog" attack on Iran didn't budge public opinion in the least (except, perhaps, in favor of Bernie among the Democrats). Trump walked back his war-with-Iran threat, no doubt realizing that the US military had no desire to invade and occupy Iran, and possibly seeing that the random slaughter of scattered air attacks would merely expose him further as a careless monster. Still, he did nothing to resolve the conflict, and won't as long as his Saudi and Israeli foreign policy directors insist on hostile relations. He sorely needs a consigliere, like James Baker was to Bush Sr., someone who could follow up on his tantrums and turn them into deals (that could have been made well before). All he really needs to do to open up Iran and North Korea is to let the sanctions go first, to establish some good will, and let those countries be sucked into normalcy with mutually beneficial trade. Most other foreign policy conflicts could be solved without much more effort. And he has one advantage that no Democrat will: he won't have a psycho like Donald Trump constantly attacking him from the right, arguing that every concession he makes is a sign of weakness. The only deal he's delivered so far (USMCA) is a fair test case. It sailed through without serious objection because the only person deranged enough to derail it kept his mouth shut.

More links on Iran, war, and foreign policy:


Some scattered links this week:

Friday, January 08, 2010

Daily Log

Need to write something (75 words) for NPR on the Steve Lehman album:

Steve Lehman Trio + Craig Taborn: The People I Love (Pi) The alto saxophonist extends his string of boundary-pushing albums by rediscovering the middle ground between his trio and the larger groups he has lately favored. Matt Brewer (bass) and Damion Reid return from his Dialect Fluorescent trio, while pianist Taborn harmonizes, comps, disrupts, and waxes eloquent. Could be his most conventional postbop effort, but that's only because he's pushed the envelope so far with such complete command.

Notes:

  1. Prelude (T+L): short, just sax and piano.
  2. Ih Calam & Ynnus: fast riffing over hard piano chords
  3. Curse Fraction: slower, airier sax lines, piano comping
  4. qPlay (Autechre):
  5. Interlude (T+L):
  6. A Shifting Design (Kurt Rosenwinkel): recorded 2018 in CA
  7. Beyond All Limits:
  8. Echoes/The Impaler (latter by Jeff "Tain" Watts):
  9. Chance (Kenny Kirkland):
  10. Postlude (T+L):

Monday, January 06, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, January archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 32575 [32538] rated (+37), 230 [228] unrated (+2).

I might as well go ahead and post this, as I'm nowhere near getting to a reasonable breakpoint. I haven't even done the indexing for last month's Streamnotes file. Nor do I have much to add on EOY lists. Latest I have on NPR's posting of the Jazz Critics Poll results is "end of this week or beginning of next." I've since got a request to write a little something by Thursday, so I'd say early next week is the more likely date.

All of the promos in my queue are 2020 releases, so I figured they could wait as I try to mop up what I've missed from 2019. Also, when I've been away from the computer, the CDs I've been playing have been old jazz: some Ellington, Hawkins, Webster, and a lot of Armstrong -- an especially pleasant surprise to find Armstrong's terrific Newport sets on the computer.

The B+(***) record with the most potential is the Sturgill Simpson. I only gave it one play, and really wasn't in the mood for an arena rock album -- much closer to that than to neotrad or neocosmopolitan coutry, a trend that Nashville artists like Eric Church have pursued of late. Still, an impressive performance, his third straight B+(***) in my book. On the other hand, Omar Souleyman's fifth straight A- was an easy call, not that I can keep any of them straight. Didn't hurt to be reminded of the humanity that the US has tried so hard to snuff out for decades now.

Also nice to find a new electronica artist I really like.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Acid Arab: Jdid (2019, Crammed Discs): [r]: B+(*)
  • Joe Armon-Jones: Turn to Clear View (2019, Brownswood): [bc]: B
  • Blacks' Myths: Blacks' Myths II (2019, Atlantic Rhythms): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Burna Boy: African Giant (2019, Atlantic): [r]: B+(*)
  • Crazy P: Age of the Ego (2019, Walk Don't Walk): [r]: B+(***)
  • Fruit Bats: Gold Past Life (2019, Merge): [r]: B+(*)
  • (Sandy) Alex G: House of Sugar (2019, Domino): [r]: B
  • Geometry [Kyoko Kitamura/Taylor Ho Bynum/Joe Morris/Tomeka Reid]: Geometry of Distance (2018 [2019], Relative Pitch): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Ghost Rhythms: Live at Yoshiwara (2019, Cuneiform): [dl]: b>B+(*)/li>
  • Hash Redactor: Drecksound (2019, Goner): [r]: B+(**)
  • William Hooker: Symphonie of Flowers (2019, ORG Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • IPT: Diffractions (2018 [2019], ForTune): [r]: B+(***)
  • The Japanese House: Good at Falling (2019, Dirty Hit): [r]: B+(*)
  • Lightning Bolt: Sonic Citadel (2019, Thrill Jockey): [r]: B+(*)
  • Anna Meredith: FIBS (2019, Moshi Moshi): [r]: B
  • The Messthetics: Anthropocosmic Nest (2019, Dischord): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Moor Mother: Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes (2019, Don Giovanni): [r]: B+(**)
  • Gurf Morlix: Impossible Blue (2019, Rootball): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ralph Peterson & the Messenger Legacy: Legacy Alive: Volume 6 at the Sidedoor (2019, Onyx Productions): [r]: B+(**)
  • Portico Quartet: Memory Streams (2019, Gondwana): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sturgill Simpson: Sound & Fury (2019, Elektra): [r]: B+(***)
  • Omar Souleyman: Shlon (2019, Mad Decent/Because): [r]: A-
  • Soundwalk Collective With Patti Smith: The Peyote Dance (2019, Bella Union): [r]: B+(*)
  • Soundwalk Collective With Patti Smith: Mummer Love (2019, Bella Union): [r]: B+(**)
  • Special Request: Vortex (2019, Houndstooth): [bc]: A-
  • Special Request: Bedroom Tapes (2019, Houndstooth): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Special Request: Offworld (2019, Houndstooth): [bc]: A-
  • Vinnie Sperrazza/Jacob Sacks/Masa Kamaguchi: Play Sonny Rollins (2018 [2019], Fresh Sound New Talent): [r]: B+(*)
  • Tropical Fuck Storm: Braindrops (2019, Joyful Noise): [r]: B+(*)
  • Summer Walker: Over It (2019, Interscope): [r]: B
  • Yola: Walk Through Fire (2019, Easy Eye Sound/Nonesuch): [r]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Fred Anderson Quartet: Live Volume V (1994 [2019], FPE): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Louis Armstrong & His All Stars: The Complete Newport 1956 & 1958 Recordings (1956-58 [2019], Legacy, 2CD): [r]: A-
  • Guy Clark: The Best of the Dualtone Years (2006-13 [2017], Dualtone, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jaye P. Morgan: Jaye P. Morgan (1976 [2019], Wewantsounds): [bc]: B
  • John Prine: Chicago '70 (1970 [2019], Hobo): [r]: B+(***)
  • Patrice Rushen: Remind Me: The Classic Elektra Recordings 1978-1984 (1978-84 [2019], Strut): [bc]: B+(*)

Old music:

  • Ben Webster/Don Byas: Giants of the Tenor Sax (1944-45 [1988], Commodore): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Ben Webster and His Quartet: Wayfaring Webster (1970 [2000], Daybreak): [r]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Valery Ponomarev Big Band: Live! Our Father Who Art Blakey: The Centennial (Summit) [01-17]
  • Purna Loka Ensemble: Metaraga (Origin) [01-17]

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Weekend Roundup

In his 2019 State of the Union address, Donald Trump warned:

An economic miracle is taking place in the United States -- and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations. If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It doesn't work that way!

I remembered the quote slightly differently: as Trump saying that the only things that could stop America (by which he meant himself) are partisan investigations and stupid wars. Trump has blundered his way into both now.

After the Democrats won the House in 2018, it was inevitable that they would start investigating the Trump administration's rampant corruption and flagrant abuses of power, something Republicans in Congress had turned a blind eye to. It was not inevitable, or even very likely, that Trump would be impeached. Speaker Pelosi clearly had no desire to impeach, until Trump gave them a case where he had run so clearly afoul of national security orthodoxy that Democrats could present impeachment as fulfillment of their patriotic duty.

On closer examination, it's possible that the only war Trump was thinking of in the speech was one of Democrats against himself, but he had waged a successful 2016 campaign as the anti-war candidate -- a challenge given his fondness for bluster and violence, but one made credible by his opponent's constant reminders that she would be the tougher and more menacing Commander in Chief. But as president he's followed his gut instincts, and escalated his way to approximate war with Iran: not his first stupid war, but the first unquestionably attributable to his own folly.

The simplest explanation of how Trump got into war against Iran is that he basically auctioned US foreign policy off to the highest bidders, especially Israel and Saudi Arabia. (One should recall that Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson is also Benjamin Netanyahu's fairy godfather.) Israel and Saudi Arabia wanted Trump to tear up Obama's anti-nuclear arms agreement with Iran, so he did. They wanted Trump to strangle Iran with extra sanctions, so he did. They also wanted Trump to directly attack "Iranian-backed" militias in Iraq and Syria, so once again he did their bidding. That belligerence and those escalations have gotten us to exactly where we are, and it was all totally unnecessary, if only Trump had attempted instead to build on the good will Obama originally established. Granted, Obama could have gone further himself toward opening up cordial relations with Iran, but he too was limited by Israel and Saudi Arabia -- indeed, the letter of his agreement was meant to satisfy Israeli and Saudi demands that Iran halt nuclear weapons efforts, and indeed was the only possible approach that achieve those demands. The only thing that opposition to the treaty proves is that the demands weren't based on serious fears -- they were nothing but political posturing, meant to scam gullible Americans.

The only other explanation I can think of is that Trump has an unannounced foreign policy agenda, which basically inverts Theodore Roosevelt's dictum: "speak softly but carry a big stick." Perhaps Trump realizes that America's "stick" isn't nearly as intimidating as it was during the era of the Roosevelts, so he's compensating by shouting, often incoherently. Even if he doesn't realize the US has lost the respect and trust it once enjoyed -- in decline due to years of increasing selfishness and numerous bad decisions, further exacerbated by Trump's "America first" rhetoric -- the frustration of defiance must boil his blood. Whatever insight he once had about investigations and wars has long since been buried in the hubris of his rantings. That loss of clarity makes him even stupider than usual, leading him beyond blunders to crimes, against us and even against himself.

The result is that once again we're praying, and not for the redemption of the inexcusable behavior of the Trump administration, but for the greater sanity of Iran's leaders, the discipline not to play into Trump's madness. Unfortunately, Americans have never shown much aptitude for learning from their mistakes. Indeed, the only people who have ever learned anything from war were those who lost so badly their folly could not be shifted elsewhere -- e.g., Japan after WWII. Iran's eight-year war with Iraq wasn't a full-fledged defeat, but Iranians suffered horribly, and that has surely dampened their enthusiasm for war. On the other hand, the sanctions they already face must feel like war, without even the promise of striking back.

PS: I wrote the above, and most of the comments below, on Saturday, before this story broke: Riley Beggin: Iraqi Parliament approves a resolution on expelling US troops after Soleimani killing. As I wrote below, this would be the best-case scenario. Since Iraq appears to have no control over what US forces based there actually do, the only way Iraqis can escape being caught in the middle is to expel the Americans. Moreover, it's hard to see how Trump could keep troops in Iraq without the consent of Iraq's government. Note that this won't end the threat of war. The US still has troops and navy based around the Persian Gulf, from which it can launch attacks against Iran. But expulsion should extricate Iraq from being in the middle of Trump's temper tantrum.

On the other hand, Mike Pompeo has already rejected Iraq's vote, saying, "We are confident that the Iraqi people want the United States to continue to be there to fight the counterterror campaign." See Quint Forgey: Pompeo sticks up for US presence as Iraq votes to eject foreign troops.

Here are some links on Trump and Iran:


Some scattered links this week:

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Daily Log

Wanted to save this quote from Nicholas Lemann's Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American Dream (pp. 240-241):

[Reid] Hoffman became one of the country's major political donors. He gave a million dollars to Priorities USA, a Democratic Party political action committee whose main project at that moment was getting Barack Obama reelected as president. [Mark] Pincus gave a million dollars too. That brought both of them into Obama's circle, perhaps not as intimately as Adolf Berle had been in Franklin Roosevelt's, but not casually either. What radio had been for Roosevelt, a new mass medium that offered unprecedented possibilities for a politician who wanted to connect with the public, the new online networks -- which by now had far bigger audiences than newspapers, radio, or television -- were for Obama.

The White House hired a former LinkedIn executive, DJ Patil, as its first chief data scientist. LinkedIn provided proprietary data about the employment market to the White House, to be used in the annual "Economic Report of the President." When the website associated with Obama's health-care reform legislation had an unsuccessful debut, Hoffman was part of a group of Silicon Valley executives that organized a rescue operation. Pincus had been granted a forty-five-minute private audience with Obama in the Oval Office, where he gave the president a PowerPoint presentation on "the product-management approach to government," and he also spoke to Obama on the phone occasionally. Hoffman regularly attended meetings and dinners at the White House, including a small gathering in 2015 to discuss Obama's postpresidential future, and he organized a meeting in Silicon Valley to advise the people who were setting up Obama's foundation on how to harness the power of social networks. On Obama's regular visits to Silicon Valley, Hoffman was usually on the list of people who saw him.

Silicon Valley was also, by now, an important Democratic Party business interest group. Obama was friendly to a number of the Valley's political causes, such as permitting generous allotments of H-1B visas, under which technology firms can hire engineers from abroad; net neutrality, which forbade Internet service providers from charging higher prices to heavy users of video, music, and gaming services; and a new law, opposed by Obama's own financial regulators, that permitted online sales of stock in technology start-ups. The Obama administration gave a $465 million loan to Tesla, the electric car company founded by Hoffman's friend Elon Musk. When the White House gave a state dinner for Xi Jinping, the president of China and therefore the person who controlled access to the most important growth market for LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman (in a tuxedo!) and Michelle Yee were among the guests. On Hoffman's office wall were framed photographs, impossible for any visitor to miss, of himself with Obama, Bloomberg, and Bill Clinton. Once, at a private meeting for big donors from the entertainment industry, one of the guests asked Obama why he had sided with Silicon Valley over Hollywood during a fierce regulatory battle over copyright law in 2011 and 2012. Hollywood, ,the makers of content, was for stricter protections, and Silicon Valley, whose business was to distribute as much material as it could for free, was against them. Silicon Valley won. (In this instance, and others, one of Silicon Valley's lobbying techniques was to mobilize its vast user base in support of its political goals.) It's simple, Obama told his Hollywood supporters: they do a lot more to help me out than you guys do.

The book features three subjects: Adolf Berle, representing the New Deal art of balancing large organizations and countervaling powers; Michael Jensen, an economist who led the fight to make "shareholder value" the sole pursuit of corporations; and Reid Hoffman, a Silicon Valley financier whose major company was LinkedIn. Mark Pincus is a close Silicon Valley associate of Hoffman's. His main company was a gaming outfit, Zynga.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Daily Log

After fixing some bugs in the music tracking file, I see that I've rated 1073 albums released in 2019: 308 from CDs, 765 from downloads and streaming. Of those, 684 were jazz (63.7%, 98.7% of the CDs). A-list totals for Jazz: 74 new + 21 historical (reissues and vault music); for Non-jazz: 61 new + 11 historical. I think these numbers are slightly up from 2018, at least at this date -- I've continued to add records to the various files, so it's hard to come up with exact comparisons.

As of now, I have 1238 rated 2018 releases (803 jazz, 64.8%). A-list jazz: 67 + 26; non-jazz: 58 + 8. I tried compressing this into a tweet:

Some numbers: reviewed/rated 1073 2019 releases (684 jazz); jazz A-list: 74 new + 21 historical; non-jazz: 61 + 11. Jazz 44% from CD promos; non-jazz virtually all from streaming. A-lists up this year (vs. 67+26, 58+8, a year later; 2018 total now 1238).

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, December archive (complete).

Music: Current count 32538 [32491] rated (+47), 228 [230] unrated (-2).

Took an extra day to post Music Week this week. I figured I had one more day in the month to work with, or actually one more day to wrap up the year in calendar time, so I got in a little extra listening. Also used the time to add some lists to the EOY aggregate. Got up to Radio X in AOTY's list of lists. Haven't done anything from the NPR Jazz Critics Poll yet -- should be up in early January, not sure exactly when -- nor have a tracked down the JJA lists (that usually track JCP ballots). Hence, very little data so far on jazz (other than my own grades).

I did get an invite to join something called Village Voice Pazz & Jop Rip-Off Poll, and picked off a couple dozen ballots there. My rule there was to only count ballots from people I recognized, which mostly means members of the Expert Witness Facebook group.

This week's records were mostly things I took an interest in while compiling lists. The one major exception was that I resolved to listen to the last 2019 releases in my promo queue, including a couple I just got this week. The result is that, for now at least, the "pending" lists in my 2019 file are empty. On the other hand, I've tried not to accidentally delve into 2020 releases (looks like I have 18 records waiting).

Quite a few B+(***) records below (15). Probably means I moved too fast, at least on a few of them. (Kajfes is the one jazz record I'm most tempted to review, especially after his Nacka Forum record got an A-. But also I rarely give rap and electronica records anyway near enough attention, although that didn't stop YBN Cordae or Atom[TM], or for that matter Sault.)

All of this month's reviews have been rolled up in December 2019 Streamnotes, but I haven't done the usual indexing yet. Usually takes me 3-4 hours to do it all, and if I hold back for that I'll be even later. Sometime next week. More lists too. Maybe next week I'll be able to say a few things about the EOY Aggregate, and have some more general reflections on the year. Or maybe I'll just decide I'm due for a break.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Abjects: Never Give Up (2019, Yippee Ki Yay): [r]: B+(**)
  • Albare: Albare Plays Jobim (2019, Alfi): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Backxwash: Deviancy (2019, Grimalkin, EP): [r]: B+(***)
  • Philip Bailey: Love Will Find a Way (2019, Verve): [r]: B+(*)
  • Barker: Utility (2019, Ostgut Ton): [r]: B+(***)
  • Bonzo Squad: There's Always Tomorrow (2019, self-released, EP): [cd]: B
  • Boogie: Everythings for Sale (2019, Shady/Interscope): [r]: B+(*)
  • Peter Brötzmann: I Surrender Dear (2019, Trost): [r]: B+(**)
  • Deep State: The Path to Fast Oblivion (2019, Friendship Fever): [r]: B
  • Dumb: Club Nites (2019, Mint): [bc]: B+(***)
  • EarthGang: Mirrorgang (2019, Dreamville/Interscope): [r]: B+(*)
  • Emmeluth's Amoeba: Chimaera (2019, Řra Fonogram): [r]: B+(***)
  • Gang Starr: One of the Best Yet (2019, TTT/Gang Starr): [r]: B+(*)
  • Elena Gilliam/Michael Le Van: Then Another Turns (2019, Blujazz): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Devin Gray: Devin Gray's Algorhythmica (2019, Rataplan, EP): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Devin Gray GPS Trio: Blast Beat Blues (2019, Rataplan, EP): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Jason Hawk Harris: Love & the Dark (2019, Bloodshot): [r]: C+
  • The Hot Sardines: Welcome Home/Bon Voyage (2019, Eleven): [r]: B+(***)
  • Insignificant Other: I'm So Glad I Feel This Way About You! (2019, Counter Intuitive): [r]: B+(*)
  • Loraine James: For You and I (2019, Hyperdub): [r]: B+(**)
  • Goran Kajfes Tropiques: Into the Wild (2019, Headspin): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Ari Lennox: Shea Butter Baby (2019, Dreamville/Interscope): [r]: B+(*)
  • Danny Lerman: Ice Cat (2019, Blujazz): [cd]: B-
  • Haviah Mighty: 13th Floor (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(***)
  • Nacka Forum: Sĺ Stopper Festen (2019, Moserobie): [cd]: A-
  • The New Pornographers: In the Morse Code of Brake Lights (2019, Concord): [r]: B+(*)
  • Isabelle Olivier/Rez Abbasi: OASIS (2019, Enja/Yellowbird): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Henrik Olsson/Ola Rubin: Olsson/Rubin (2019, Barefoot): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Rozina Pátkai: Taladim (2018 [2019], Tom-Tom): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Lee Scratch Perry: Heavy Rain (2019, On-U Sound): [r]: A-
  • Lee Scratch Perry: Life of the Plants (2019, Stones Throw): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sampa the Great: The Return (2019, Ninja Tune): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Sault: 5 (2019, Forever Living Originals): [bc]: A-
  • Sault: 7 (2019, Forever Living Originals): [bc]: A-
  • Derek Senn: How Could a Man (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(***)
  • Somersaults [Olie Brice/Tobias Delius/Mark Sanders]: Numerology of Birdsong (2018 [2019], West Hill): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Svetlost: Odron Ritual Orchestra (2019, PMG): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Thick: Thick (2019, Epitaph, EP): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Ronnie Wood & His Wild Five: Mad Lad: A Live Tribute to Chuck Berry (2019, BMG): [r]: B+(***)
  • Billy Woods: Terror Management (2019, Blackwoodz Studioz): [bc]: B+(**)
  • YBN Cordae: The Lost Boy (2019, Atlantic): [r]: A-
  • Young Nudy & Pi'erre Bourne: Sli'mere (2019, RCA): [r]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • AtomTM: Lassigue Bendthaus/Cloned (+ Singles) (1992, AtomTM Audio Archive): [bc]: A-
  • Burial: Tunes 2011 to 2019 (2011-19 [2019], Hyperdub, 2CD): [r]: B+(*)
  • Masahiko Satoh/Sabu Toyozumi: The Aiki (1997 [2019], NoBusiness): [cd]: A-

Old music:

  • Olie Brice/Tobias Delius/Mark Sanders: Somersaults (2014 [2015], Two Rivers): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Emmeluth's Amoeba: Polyp (2017 [2018], Řra Fonogram): [r]: B+(*)

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Weekend Roundup

No intro. Didn't really feel like doing this in the first place, but had tabs I wanted to close.


Some scattered links this week:

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, December archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 32491 [32466] rated (+25), 230 [226] unrated (+4).

Skipped last week, so this one covers two weeks, with a big hole in the middle. On. Dec. 12, I had surgery to open up my nasal passages, hopefully to breathe better. The surgery was fairly quick, and I was home by noon, but my recovery hasn't been anything to brag about. I did virtually nothing for over a week. Had a follow-up appointment after a week, with the PA poking around, pulling out scabs and clots of blood. During that week I checked email and processed a few late ballots for Francis Davis's NPR Jazz Critics Poll (we did finally match last year's total of 140), but couldn't work for more than 15 minutes at a time (even on something as mechanical as Noisey's EOY list, which took me 4-5 sessions). I didn't feel much better Friday, but found I could get some work done. I only played old jazz for a week, but started streaming some new music -- mostly hip-hop, as it turned out. Pretty much everything I heard landed at B+(**), and this week's reviews are even shorter and shabbier than usual.

Almost finished the week without a single A- record, but Trapline landed 10th on Phil Overeem's year-end list. I still can't tell you why, but three plays convinces me there's enough going on there to merit the grade. Almost added a second one, Emmeluth's Amoeba: Chimaera, from

Chris Monsen's list, but decided I need another play before trying to write anything.

While I was down, I missed three pieces (free, I think) from Robert Christgau's And It Don't Stop subscription newsletter, so I'll do penance for not announcing them in a timely manner here:

Don't have much more to say at this point. The usual tracking files are in the usual places. I've added a few things to the EOY Aggregate, but it is nowhere near up to date (and while I'm likely to add to it, it may never try to make it as comprehensive as in recent years).


New records reviewed this week:

  • Eric Alexander: Eric Alexander With Strings (2019, HighNote): [r]: B+(*)
  • Gonçalo Almeida/Martin van Duynhoven/Tobias Klein: Live at the Bimhuis (2017 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(***)
  • Rebecca Angel: Santa Baby (Timeless Grooves, 1): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Atmosphere: Whenever (2019, Rhymesayers Entertainment): [r]: B+(***)
  • Courtney Barnett: MTV Unplugged (Live in Melbourne) (2019, Mom + Pop Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • Beck: Hyperspace (2019, Capitol): [r]: B
  • Dopolarians: Garden Party (2019, Mahakala): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Ras G and the Afrikan Space Program: Dance of the Cosmos (2019, Akashik, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lafayette Harris Jr.: You Can't Lose With the Blues (2019, Savant): [r]: B+(*)
  • Hiromi: Spectrum (2019, Telarc): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hot Chip: A Bath Full of Ecstasy (2019, Domino): [r]: B+(*)
  • Brittany Howard: Jaime (2019, ATO): [r]: B
  • Kaytranada: Bubba (2019, RCA): [r]: B+(**)
  • José Lencastre Nau Quartet: Live in Moscow (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jeff Lofton: Jericho (2019, self-released): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Caroline Polachek: Pang (2019, Columbia): [r]: B+(*)
  • Slayyyter: Slayyyter (The Mixtape) (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sly & Robbie/Roots Radics: The Final Battle: Sly & Robbie vs. Roots Radics (2019, Serious Reggae): [yt]: B+(**)
  • Sly & Robbie: Dub Serge (2019, Taxi): [r]: B+(*)
  • Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Trapline (2019, Fontana North): [r]: A-
  • Stormzy: Heavy Is the Head (2019, Merky/Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Dave Stryker: Eight Track Christmas (2019, Strikezone): [cd]: B
  • Sudan Archives: Athena (2019, Stones Throw): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Juan Vinuesa Jazz Quartet: Blue Shots From Chicago (2018 [2019], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)
  • The Who: Who (2019, Polydor): [r]: B

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Bobby Bradford/Frode Gjerstad/Kent Carter/John Stevens: Blue Cat (1991 [2019], NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(**)

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Weekend Roundup

I didn't feel like doing a Roundup this weekend, but found a piece I wanted to quote at length, and figured that might suffice: Andrew Sullivan: What we know about Trump going into 2020. I haven't been a fan of Sullivan's lately (well, ever), and don't endorse his asides on the moral superiority of conservatives, but his assessment of Trump hits a lot of key points, and is well worth reading at length (I am going to add some numbered footnotes where I have something I want to add):

So reflect for a second on the campaign of 2016. One Republican candidate channeled the actual grievances and anxieties of many Americans, while the others kept up their zombie politics and economics. One candidate was prepared to say that the Iraq War was a catastrophe, that mass immigration needed to be controlled[1], that globalized free trade was devastating communities and industries, that we needed serious investment in infrastructure, that Reaganomics was way out of date, and that half the country was stagnating and in crisis.

That was Trump. In many ways, he deserves credit for this wake-up call. And if he had built on this platform and crafted a presidential agenda that might have expanded its appeal and broadened its base, he would be basking in high popularity and be a shoo-in for reelection.[2] If, in a resilient period of growth, his first agenda item had been a major infrastructure bill and he'd combined it with tax relief for the middle and working classes, he could have crafted a new conservative coalition that might have endured.[2] If he could have conceded for a millisecond that he was a newbie and that he would make mistakes, he would have been forgiven for much. A touch of magnanimity would have worked wonders. For that matter, if Trump were to concede, even now, that his phone call with President Zelensky of Ukraine went over the line and he now understands this, we would be in a different world.

The two core lessons of the past few years are therefore: (1) Trumpism has a real base of support in the country with needs that must be addressed, and (2) Donald Trump is incapable of doing it and is such an unstable, malignant, destructive narcissist that he threatens our entire system of government. The reason this impeachment feels so awful is that it requires removing a figure to whom so many are so deeply bonded because he was the first politician to hear them in decades. It feels to them like impeachment is another insult from the political elite, added to the injury of the 21st century. They take it personally, which is why their emotions have flooded their brains. And this is understandable.

But when you think of what might have been and reflect on what has happened, it is crystal clear that this impeachment is not about the Trump agenda or a more coherent version of it. It is about the character of one man: his decision to forgo any outreach, poison domestic politics, marinate it in deranged invective, betray his followers by enriching the plutocracy, destroy the dignity of the office of president, and turn his position into a means of self-enrichment. It's about the personal abuse of public office: using the presidency's powers to blackmail a foreign entity into interfering in a domestic election on his behalf, turning the Department of Justice into an instrument of personal vengeance and political defense, openly obstructing investigations into his own campaign, and treating the grave matter of impeachment as a "hoax" while barring any testimony from his own people.

Character matters. This has always been a conservative principle but one that, like so many others, has been tossed aside in the convulsions of a cult. And it is Trump's character alone that has brought us to this point. . . .

The impeachment was inevitable because this president is so profoundly and uniquely unfit for the office he holds, so contemptuous of the constitutional democracy he took an oath to defend, and so corrupt in his core character that a crisis in the conflict between him and the rule of law was simply a matter of time. When you add to this a clear psychological deformation that can produce the astonishing, deluded letter he released this week in his own defense or the manic performance at his Michigan rally Wednesday night, it is staggering that it has taken this long. The man is clinically unwell, preternaturally corrupt, and instinctively hostile to the rule of law. In any other position, in any other field of life, he would have been fired years ago and urged to seek medical attention with respect to his mental health.

Footnotes:

  1. Restricing immigration is a favorite talking point of other "never Trump conservatives" (e.g., David Frum), one thing that helps them keep their identity distinct from liberals. There is a case to be made that low-wage immigrants undermine American workers, but Trump and anti-immigrant Republicans only frame the issue in racial and cultural terms.
  2. Of course, this is sheer fantasy: the "conservative" mindset allowed Trump no room to maneuver toward giving even his white middle class supporters a break from the government, let alone more leverage against their employers and the predators who have been stripping wealth at every turn. They couldn't even imagine a government that helped balance the scales (although that's exactly what the New Deal did, with a bias for white people that Trump might admire). Thus, for instance, the infrastructure bill offered nothing but privatization measures.

Sullivan also has an appreciative piece on his old chum's win in the UK elections: Boris's blundering brilliance, including this bit:

The parallels with Donald Trump are at first hard to resist: two well-off jokers with bad hair playing populist. But Trump sees himself, and is seen by his voters, as an outsider, locked out of the circles he wants to be in, the heir to a real-estate fortune with no political experience and a crude sense of humor, bristling with resentment, and with a background in reality television. He despises constitutional norms, displays no understanding of history or culture, and has a cold streak of cruelty deep in his soul. Boris is almost the opposite of this, his career a near-classic example of British Establishment insiderism with his deep learning, reverence for tradition, and a capacity to laugh at himself that is rare in most egos as big as his. In 2015, after Trump described parts of London as no-go areas because of Islamist influence, Johnson accused him of "a quite stupefying ignorance that makes him, frankly, unfit to hold the office of president." Even as president, Trump is driven primarily by resentment. Boris, as always, is animated by entitlement. (The vibe of his pitch is almost that people like him should be in charge.)


Some scattered links this week:

Monday, December 09, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, December archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 32466 [32422] rated (+44), 226 [230] unrated (-4).

I have very little time to spare on this, so will keep it short. Spent much of the weekend counting ballots for NPR's 14th Annual Jazz Critics Poll, something Francis Davis started back when we were writing for the Village Voice. Deadline was last night, but there's a good chance that any ballots that arrive today will be counted. I have 132 at present, down a bit from 2018. Some surprises (for me at least) among the new album leaders. Less so among the other categories. This week's haul includes a bunch of records I discovered among the ballots. Still, two/thirds of this week's A- records came from my queue.

Results will probably be posted in about a week. I'm liable to fall out of the loop on that, as I'm scheduled for what should be minor surgery on Thursday, and I'm pessimistic about what I will be able to do the following week or so. In fact, I'm pretty down on getting anything done beforehand either.

Until I got swamped over the weekend, I did a fair amount of work on the EOY Aggregate, which has changed rather dramatically. Up to Thanksgiving, the list was dominated by first-half albums which showed up in mid-year lists -- Sharon Van Etten's Remind Me Tomorrow was leading Billie Eilish's When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go?. Eilish pulled back ahead last week, but the dramatic gains were from: (2) Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rockwell; (4) Angel Olsen: All Mirrors; (5) Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Ghosteen; and (11) FKA Twigs: Magdalene. Among first-half albums, (7) Weyes Blood: Titanic Rising is the one that has gained some spots, evidently because those who can stand it like it a lot.

I was fairly up-to-date before the weekend, but haven't added much since. Should see many more lists in the next week or two, but unclear whether I'll be able to keep up. At any rate, the file is doing most of what it needs to do. Still, not much jazz in it, other than my own grades. I'll add the JCP data when it goes public.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Awatair: Awatair Plays Coltrane (2019, Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Bones [Ziv Taubenfeld/Shay Hazan/Nir Sabag]: Reptiles (2017 [2019], NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Anthony Braxton: Quartet (New Haven) 2014 (2014 [2019], Firehouse 12, 4CD): [r]: A-
  • Patrick Brennan/Abdul Moimęme: Terraphonia (2019, Creative Sources): [r]: B+(*)
  • Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science: Waiting Game (2019, Motéma, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
  • Anthony Coleman: Catenary Oath (2018 [2019], NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Chick Corea/Christian McBride/Brian Blade: Trilogy 2 (2010-16 [2019], Concord, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
  • Rodney Crowell: Texas (2019, RC1): [r]: B+(***)
  • Nina De Heney/Karin Johansson/Henrik Wartel: Quagmire (2018 [2019], Creative Sources): [r]: B+(*)
  • Doja Cat: Hot Pink (2019, Kemosabe/RCA): [r]: B+(**)
  • Marc Edwards/Guillaume Gargaud: Black Hole Universe (2019, Atypeek Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • Andy Emler/David Liebman: Journey Around the Truth (2019, Signature Radio France): [r]: B+(*)
  • Erin Enderlin: Faulkner County (2019, Black Crow Productions): [r]: B+(*)
  • Gorilla Mask: Brain Drain (2019, Clean Feed): [r]: B+(***)
  • Alex Harding/Lucian Ban: Dark Blue (2019, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
  • Eric Hofbauer's Five Agents: Book of Water (2018 [2019], Creative Nation Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Eric Hofbauer & Dylan Jack: Remains of Echoes (2019, Creative Nation Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • Carl Ludwig Hübsch/Pierre-Yves Martel/Philip Zoubek: Otherwise (2018, Insub): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Ill Considered: Ill Considered 8 (2018 [2019], Ill Considered Music): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Katarsis 4: Katarsis 4 (2019, NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Kimchi Moccasin Tango: Yankee Zulu (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lee Konitz Nonet: Old Songs New (2019, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(***)
  • Mat Maneri Quartet: Dust (2019, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(*)
  • MC Yallah X Debmaster: Kubali (2019, Hakuna Kulala): [r]: B+(*)
  • Tom McDermott: Meets Scott Joplin (2018 [2019], Arbors): [r]: B+(**)
  • Camila Meza & the Nectar Orchestra: Ámbar (2019, Sony Masterworks): [r]: B
  • Roscoe Mitchell Orchestra: Littlefield Concert Hall Mills College March 19-20, 2018 (2018 [2019], Wide Hive): [r]: B+(**)
  • Qasim Naqvi: Teenages (2019, Erased Tapes): [r]: B+(*)
  • Tomeka Reid Quartet: Old New (2018 [2019], Cuneiform): [dl]: B+(***)
  • Michele Rosewoman's New Yor-Uba: Hallowed (2017-18 [2019], Advance Dance Disques): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Bob Sheppard: The Fine Line (2019, Challenge): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kalie Shorr: Open Book (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sonar With David Torn: Tranceportation (Volume 1) (2019, RareNoise): [cdr]: A-
  • Tim Stine Quartet: Knots (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
  • Steve Swell/Robert Boston/Michael Vatcher: Brain in a Dish (2018 [2019], NoBusiness): [cd]: A-
  • Fay Victor: Barn Songs (2018 [2019], Northern Spy): [r]: B+(**)
  • Bobby Watson/Vincent Herring/Gary Bartz: Bird at 100 (2019, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Dusko Goykovich: Sketches of Yugoslavia (1973-74 [2019], Enja): [r]: B+(*)
  • Dadisi Komolafe: Hassan's Walk (1983 [2019], Nimbus West): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Yusef A. Lateef: Hikima: Creativity (1983 [2019], The Key System): [bc]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • Kristijan Krajncan: Drumming Cellist (2017, Sazas): [bc]: B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Ellen Edwards: A New York Session (Stonefire Music) [02-22]
  • Amber Weekes: Pure Imagination (Amber Inn Productions) [01-08]

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Weekend Roundup

No time for an introduction today. On the other hand, much reason to kick this out earlier than usual. Anyway, you know the drill.


Some scattered links this week:

Monday, December 02, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, December archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 32422 [32388] rated (+34), 230 [221] unrated (+9).

I have 52 ballots counted for Jazz Critics Poll. Deadline is December 8, but I'm finding very little reason to shuffle the top of my EOY Jazz List, so I might as well file my own ballot sooner rather than later. This is what I'm handing in:

New music:

  1. Steve Lehman Trio/Craig Taborn: The People I Love (Pi)
  2. Heroes Are Gang Leaders: The Amiri Baraka Sessions (Flat Langston's Arkeyes)
  3. Dr. Mark Lomax, II: 400: An Afrikan Epic (CFG Multimedia -12CD) **
  4. Moppa Elliott: Jazz Band/Rock Band/Dance Band (Hot Cup, 2CD)
  5. James Brandon Lewis: An Unruly Manifesto (Relative Pitch)
  6. Dave Rempis/Brandon Lopez/Ryan Packard: The Early Bird Gets (Aerophonic)
  7. Rich Halley: Terra Incognita (Pine Eagle)
  8. Quinsin Nachoff's Flux: Path of Totality (Whirlwind, 2CD)
  9. Per 'Texas' Johansson/Torbjörn Zetterberg/Konrad Agnas: Orakel (Moserobie)
  10. Liebman Rudolph & Drake: Chi (RareNoise) *

Historical music:

  1. Eric Dolphy: Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions (Resonance, 3CD)
  2. Ran Blake/Jeanne Lee: The Newest Sound You Never Heard (1966-67, A-Side, 2CD)
  3. Stan Getz: Getz at the Gate: The Stan Getz Quartet Live at the Village Gate Nov. 26 1961 (Verve, 2CD) **

Miscellaneous categories:

  • Vocal: Heroes Are Gang Leaders: The Amiri Baraka Sessions (Flat Langston's Arkeyes)
  • Debut: Javier Red's Imagery Converter: Ephemeral Certainties (Delmark) **
  • Latin: Miguel Zenón: Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera (Miel Music)

One consideration I had was whether to omit records that I didn't receive (or obtain) physical copies of. In recent years, I've done that for historical releases (which have gotten to be hard to come by) but I allowed streamed new releases to slip onto my ballot. After I slid Ill Considered 6 down a couple notches, the only streamed item in my New top ten was the Mark Lomax mega-production. I decided to keep it on the ballot because I had rated it a full A (only three this year, although the top two A- records are good candidates for promotion), and because a couple other critics had voted for it, with a high enough points-per-ballot to move it into the top-30. Among historical records, I decided to keep Getz on the ballot because I didn't have a satisfactory alternative: the next two records I have physical copies of are samplers by Bill Evans and Wes Montgomery, but I'm rather chafed that I haven't been able to hear those artists new-old records (Evans in England and Back on Indiana Avenue), which are the ones other critics are voting for. (The other big set from the same label that I haven't been able to hear yet is Nat "King" Cole's Hittin' the Ramp, currently running 3rd in the poll.) I do have CDs of six more records further down the list, and I'm especially appreciative of the Sam Rivers and Horace Tapscott sets, but they are well down the list, barely over the cusp.

This week's haul is nearly all records suggested by counting JCP ballots. Also noticed a few things from recent lists by Phil Overeem and Chris Monsen, and scrounging through Tim Niland's recent reviews.

My EOY Aggregate was close to up-to-date until today, when we were hit with an avalanche of new lists. Main ways I track these things are through AOTY and Acclaimed Music's EOY 2019 forum. I'll catch up eventually, although lots of things aren't making it easy (slow recovery from illness, anticipation of surgery, visitors, my mind's inability to process it all).


New records reviewed this week:

  • Stefan Aeby: Piano Solo (2018 [2019], Intakt): [r]: B+(*)
  • Rodrigo Amado/Dirk Serries: Jazzblazzt (2018 [2019], Raw Tonk): [bc]: B+(**)
  • The Big Yes: The Big Yes (2018 [2019], Nakama): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Johnathan Blake: Trion (2018 [2019], Giant Step Arts, 2CD): [bc]: A-
  • Jane Bunnett & Maqueque: On Firm Ground/Tierra Firme (2019, Linus Entertainment): [r]: B
  • Daniel Carter/Patrick Holmes/Matthew Putman/Hilliard Greene/Federico Ughi: Electric Telepathy, Vol. 1 (2018 [2019], 577 Records): [r]: B+(***)
  • Cochemea: All My Relations (2019, Daptone): [bc]: B+(**)
  • John Dikeman/George Hadow/Dirk Serries/Martina Verhoeven/Luis Vicente: Ideal Principle (2016 [2018], Raw Tonk): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Petter Eldh: Koma Saxo (2018 [2019], We Jazz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ellery Eskelin/Christian Weber/Michael Griener: The Pearls (2018 [2019], Intakt): [r]: B+(***)
  • Georg Graewe/Ernst Reijseger/Gerry Hemingway: Concertgebouw Brugge 2014 (2014 [2019], Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Joel Harrison: Still Point: Turning World (2019, Whirlwind): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jazzmeia Horn: Love and Liberation (2019, Concord): [r]: B+(***)
  • Keith Jarrett: Munich 2016 (2016 [2019], ECM -2CD): [r]: B+(*)
  • Guillermo Klein: Los Guachos Cristal (2019, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(***)
  • Kokoroko: Kokoroko (2019, Brownswood, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Ingrid Laubrock + Aki Takase: Kasumi (2018 [2019], Intakt): [r]: B+(**)
  • Metropolitan Jazz Octet Featuring Dee Alexander: It's Too Hot for Words: Celebrating Billie Holiday (2019, Delmark): [r]: B+(**)
  • Van Morrison: Three Chords & the Truth (2019, Exile/Caroline): [r]: B+(***)
  • Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton: Concert in Vilnius (2017 [2019], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Junius Paul: Ism (2016-19 [2019], International Anthem): [r]: B+(*)
  • Ken Peplowski/Diego Figueiredo: Amizade (2018 [2019], Arbors): [r]: B+(*)
  • Javier Red's Imagery Converter: Ephemeral Certainties (2019, Delmark): [r]: A-
  • SEED Ensemble: Driftglass (2019, Jazz Re:freshed): [r]: B+(*)
  • Christian Meaas Svendsen + Nakama + Rinzai Zen Center Oslo: New Rituals (2017-18 [2019], Nakama, 3CD): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Pat Thomas/Dominic Lash/Tony Orrell: Bley School (2018 [2019], 577 Records): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Trigger: Pull (2019, Shhpuma): [r]: B
  • Jennifer Wharton's Bonegasm: Bonegasm (2018 [2019], Sunnyside): [r]: B+(*)
  • Yong Yandsen/Christian Meaas Svendsen/Paal Nilssen-Love: Hungry Ghosts (2018 [2019], Nakama): [bc]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Joseph Daley: The Seven Deadly Sins/The Seven Heavenly Virtues (2010-13 [2019], Jodamusic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sam Rivers: Zenith [Sam Rivers Achive Project, Volume 2] (1977 [2019], NoBusiness): [cd]: A-
  • Makoto Terashita Meets Harold Land: Topology (1983 [2019], BBE): [bc]: A-

Old music:

  • Johnathan Blake: Gone, but Not Forgotten (2014, Criss Cross): [r]: B+(***)
  • Joseph Daley: The Seven Heavenly Virtues (2013, Jodamusic): [r]: B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Rebecca Angel: Santa Baby (Timeless Grooves, EP)
  • Benny Benack III: A Lot of Livin' to Do (LA Reserve) [01-24]
  • Bones [Ziv Taubenfeld/Shay Hazan/Nir Sabag]: Reptiles (NoBusiness)
  • Bobby Bradford/Frode Gjerstad/Kent Carter/John Stevens: Blue Cat (NoBusiness)
  • Anthony Coleman: Catenary Oath (NoBusiness)
  • Katarsis 4: Katarsis 4 (NoBusiness)
  • Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton: Concert in Vilnius (NoBusiness)
  • Sam Rivers: Zenith [Sam Rivers Achive Project, Volume 2] (1977, NoBusiness, 2CD)
  • Masahiko Satoh/Sabu Toyozumi: The Aiki (1997, NoBusiness)
  • Steve Swell/Robert Boston/Michael Vatcher: Brain in a Dish (NoBusiness)
  • Juan Vinuesa Jazz Quartet: Blue Shots From Chicago (NoBusiness)
  • The Westerlies: Wherein Lies the Good (Westerlies) [01-31]

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Didn't do a Weekend Roundup last week, but I had a couple of links cached away, seed for today. Didn't much want to do one this week, either, but here goes.

First, a few links on the Democratic presidential debate (not many, as I started looking late, or maybe there wasn't much to find?):

In "this week in senseless violence," note that a couple people were stabbed in London in what's being taken as a "major terrorist incident" (What we know about the London Bridge stabbings), 11 were shot in New Orleans (New Orleans shooting: What we know), and A Mexican cartel gun battle near the Texas border leaves 21 dead).


Other scattered links for the last two weeks:

Monday, November 25, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, November archive (finished).

Music: Current count 32388 [32371] rated (+17), 221 [221] unrated (+0).

Took ill late last week, spending a couple days doing nothing more ambitious than watching the remains of television series Laura had already given up on (The Durrells in Corfu, which I enjoyed very much, and Press, which barely kept me going). I'll add that we recently finished the latest seasons of Orange Is the New Black and Succession, which among other things remind us that class persists in quantum orbits so isolated that it's hard for most of us to imagine life like that.

No Weekend Roundup yesterday. I have a few links saved up for next time I manage to write one. Not much Music Week here either. The one thing I am trying to keep up with is tabulating ballots for this year's NPR Jazz Critics Poll. That pointed me to several records this week, no doubt more next week. (Playing Johnathan Blake's Trion at the moment, and it's sounding like a pretty solid A-.) Spent a lot of time early in the week just trying to round up the various pieces of Allen Lowe's box set, and wound up guessing a bit.

I still haven't finalized my ballot yet, but you can see a very rough draft here.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Ilia Belorukov & Vasco Trilla: Laniakea (2017 [2019], Astral Spirits): [bc]: B-
  • Leonard Cohen: Thanks for the Dance (2016 [2019], Columbia/Legacy): [r]: A-
  • The Last Poets: Transcending Toxic Times (2019, Ropeadope, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
  • Quiana Lynell: A Little Love (2019, Concord Jazz): [r]: B
  • Aurora Nealand/Steve Marquette/Anton Hatwich/Paul Thibodeaux: Kobra Quartet (2018 [2019], Astral Spirits): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Bobby Kapp: Ineffable Joy (2018 [2019], ESP-Disk): [r]: B+(***)
  • Charlie Porter: Immigration Nation (2019, OA2): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Wallace Roney: Blue Dawn-Blue Nights (2019, HighNote): [r]: B+(***)
  • Toh-Kichi: Baikamo (2019, Libra): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Torbjörn Zetterberg & the Great Question: Live (2017 [2019], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: A-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Georg Graewe/Ernest Reijseger/Gerry Hemingway: Kammern I-V (2009 [2019], Auricle): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Allen Lowe: Jews & Roots/Radical Jewish Acculturation: An Avant Garde of Our Own: Disconnected Works 1980-2018 (1980-2018 [2019], Constant Sorrow/ESP-Disk, 8CD): [r/bc]: B+(***)
  • Dudu Pukwana/Han Bennink/Misha Mengelberg: Yi Yole (1978 [2019], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(**)
  • David S. Ware New Quartet: Théâtre Garonne, 2008 (2008 [2019], AUM Fidelity): [r]: A-
  • Mary Lou Williams: Mary Lou Williams (1962-63 [2019], Smithsonian Folkways): [r]: B+(*)

Old music:

    Georg Graewe/Ernest Reijseger/Gerry Hemingway: Continuum (2005 [2006], Winter & Winter): [r]: B+(*)


Grade (or other) changes:

  • Jeffrey Lewis & the Voltage: Bad Wiring (2019, Don Giovanni): [r]: [was: B+(***)] A-

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Carol Albert: Stronger Now (Cahara) [01-30]
  • Frank Colón: Latin Lounge (Technoprimal Music) [01-01]
  • Elena Gilliam/Michael Le Van: Then Another Turns (Blujazz)
  • Danny Lerman: Ice Cat (Blujazz)


   Mar 2001