Streamnotes: August 29, 2022

Most of these are short notes/reviews based on streaming records from Napster (formerly Rhapsody; other sources are noted in brackets). They are snap judgments, usually based on one or two plays, accumulated since my last post along these lines, back on July 25. Past reviews and more information are available here (20093 records).

Recent Releases

49 Winchester: Fortune Favors the Bold (2022, New West): Alt-country band from Virginia, fourth album since 2014. Got twang, will take it all the way to the county line. B [sp]

Kyle Aho: Rituals (2021 [2022], OA2): Pianist, some electric keyboards, teaches at Missouri State, second album as leader plus some side credits, most songs have words from various literary sources, Christin Bohrisch sings, Randy Hamm plays sax and flute, band also includes trumpet, cello, bass, and drums. B [cd]

Aitch: Close to Home (2022, Capitol): British (Manchester) rapper Harrison James Armstrong, first studio album after several EPs and singles that charted in UK. B+(*)

JD Allen: Americana Vol. 2 (2022, Savant): Tenor saxophonist, refers back to his 2016 album Americana, which was subtitled "Musings on Blues and Jazz." Originals here, aside from "This World Is a Mean Old World" and "You Don't Know Me." With Gregg August (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums), plus Charlie Hunter (guitar on 8 tracks). Allen remains an impressive saxophonist, but this seems a little muddy. B+(**) [cd]

Roxana Amed: Unánime (2022, Sony Music Latin): Jazz singer from Argentina, debut 2004, moved to US in 2013, only second album since then. Band includes Martin Bejerano (piano) and Dafnis Prieto (drums), and most songs -- only two co-credit Amed -- have featured guests. B+(***) [cd] [09-16]

Omar Apollo: Ivory (2022, Warner): Singer-songwriter from Indiana, parents Mexican, actual name Omar Apolonio Velasco, first album after a couple EPs. Draws on r&b, voice can edge into falsetto, drops in the occasional song in Spanish. B+(**) [sp]

Lee Bains + the Glory Fires: Old-Time Folks (2022, Don Giovanni): Southern rock band, out of Birmingham, fourth album since 2012. Song titles include "Outlaws," "Gentleman," "Rednecks," "Caligula," and "God's A-Working, Man." B+(**) [sp]

Richard Baratta: Music in Film: The Sequel (2022, Savant): Drummer, mostly involved in film production over the last 35 years, did an album of Music in Film in 2020 (subtitle The Reel Deal), returns with a sequel here, mostly familiar tunes, arranged by pianist Bill O'Connell, with Vincent Herring (alto sax), Paul Bollenback (guitar), bass, and percussion. B+(*) [cd]

Quentin Baxter Quintet: Art Moves Jazz (2022, BME): Drummer, recorded this in South Carolina, has a couple albums plus a group called Ranky Tanky. Hard bop quintet with trumpet (Charlton Singleton), tenor sax (Mark Starbank, piano, and bass, plus a couple guest spots. Opens and closes with Monk, in between has an original suite, three Jimmy Heath pieces, one by Robert Watson. B+(*) [cd]

Beabadoobee: Beatopia (2022, Dirty Hit): British pop singer-songwriter, Beatrice Laus, originally from the Philippines, second album. B+(***) [sp]

Beyoncé: Renaissance (2022, Parkwood/Columbia): Last name Knowles, started out in Destiny's Child -- no need to note that any more. She is probably the biggest pop star in America, at least since her 2013 eponymous album, although she's less familiar to me than any contender I can think of. I thought her first 3-4 albums were crap, and even when she got better, I doubt I've played any of them more than 2-3 times. Consensus seems to be that this one is her best yet. I can't argue. I know I should be impressed by her encyclopedic mastery of disco and house beats, and on some level I am, but when I recognize one, I recall liking it better where it came from. A-

Black Midi: Hellfire (2022, Rough Trade): British prog rock band, major critical breakthrough in 2019, lost a guitarist after that, dropping down to g-b-d plus touring help. This strikes me as operatic, with its rapid ups and downs, twists and turns, and not least extreme vocals. B- [sp]

Jane Ira Bloom/Mark Helias: Some Kind of Tomorrow (2020 [2021], Radio Legs): Pandemic lockdown project, soprano sax and bass duets. B+(**) [sp]

Jane Ira Bloom: Picturing the Invisible: Focus 1 (2022, self-released): Soprano saxophonist, duets with Allison Miller (drums), Miya Misaoka (koto), and Mark Helias (bass), "inspired by the science photography of legendary NYC photographer Berenice Abbott," recorded by Ulrike Schwarz of Anderson Audio. Digital only, can't find any label claim. B+(***) [sp]

Axel Boman: Luz (2022, Studio Barnhus): Swedish electronica producer, singles from 2008, two albums before this year's pair of releases (with Quest for Fire). A couple vocals, valid enough. B+(**) [sp]

Axel Boman: Quest for Fire (2022, Studio Barnhus): More, released same day, separate digital albums, but if you want vinyl, they come packaged as a 3-LP set. I'd give this one a slight edge, both on beats and reduced vocals. B+(***) [sp]

Bobby Bradford & Friends: Jackie Robinson: Stealing Home (2018 [2022], Cryptogramophone): Cornet player, born 1934, moved to Los Angeles in 1953, got a commission to write a piece honoring Robinson's centennial. Friends include saxophonists Vinny Golia and Chuck Manning, William Roper (tuba/euphonium and spoken vocals), plus piano, bass, and drums. B+(**) [bc]

Breath of Air: Breath of Air (2019-20 [2922], Burning Ambulance): Trio of Brandon Ross (guitar), Charles Burnham (violin), and Warren Benbow (drums). Ross only has three albums as a leader, but a lot of side credits going back to Archie Shepp in 1975, including the group Harriet Tubman. B+(***) [bc]

Alan Broadbent Trio: Like Minds (2021 [2022], Savant): Pianist from New Zealand, many albums since 1978, Discogs credits 13 to his Trio, currently with Harvie S (bass) and Billy Mintz (drums). One original, a mix of standards and bop classics. [sp]

Raymond Byron: Bond Wire Cur (2021 [2022], ESP-Disk): Last name Raposa, died at 41 a month after this came out, born in Indiana, grew up in California, started in Castanets c. 2005, played on records with Sufjan Stevens and Chris Schlarb. Label calls this "weird rock," although I'd lean more toward "weird folk." Back cover lists 10 more names as "featuring," but this feels pretty solo. B+(***) [lp]

Steve Cardenas/Ben Allison/Ted Nash: Healing Power: The Music of Carla Bley (2021 [2022], Sunnyside): Guitar, bass, reeds. Bley has been covered more extensively than any other composer of her generation, but I still can't pick her tunes out, and don't get what makes her stand out. Still, very nice pieces. B+(***) [sp]

Willi Carlisle: Peculiar, Missouri (2022, Free Dirt): Folksinger from the Ozarks, earned his credentials the new-fashioned way, with a BA in Writing and Performance Studies and a MFA in Poetry, plus two self-released albums before moving up to a named label. B+(***) [sp] [Later: A-]

Kevin Cerovich: Aging Millennial (2022, CVJ): Trombonist, from Overland Park, Kansas, seems to be his first album (after a stretch in the Airmen of Note). Credits also include drums, vocals, keyboard, bass, guitar, percussion, and programming, as he seems to do it all. I rather like the trombone, but not much else. B [cd]

Cheekface: Too Much to Ask (2022, self=released): Indie g-b-d band from Los Angeles, third album, singer Greg Katz is clear enough you get all the jokes, and they are legion -- isn't it about time for a Dead Milkmen revival? Single is presumably "We Need a Bigger Dumpster." A- [sp]

Chouk Bwa & the Ångströmers: Ayiti Kongo Dub #1 (2022, Bongo Joe, EP): Haitian group, sometimes Chouk Bwa Libète, teamed up with the Belgian production duo -- they have a previous album together, Vodou Alé (2020). Three tracks, 19:04. B+(*) [bc]

Chronophage: Chronophage (2022, Bruit Direct Disques): Indie band from Austin, debut 2017, moved to New York in 2021, third album (following two self-released cassettes). B [bc]

Lindsay Clark: Carpe Noctem (2022, Audio Sport): Folkie singer-songwriter, based in Portland, fifth album since 2009, title translates as "seize the night." She doesn't. B [sp]

Mike Clark/Leon Lee Dorsey Featuring Mike LeDonne: Blues on Top (2022, Jazz Avenue 1): Drums, bass, piano. LeDonne brought two songs (including the title), the 7 covers mostly jazz standards, with "Willow Weep for Me" and "Can't Buy Me Love" the outliers. B+(**) [cd]

Dan Clucas/Kyle Motl/Nathan Hubbard: Daydream and Halting (2021 [2022], FMR): Clucas plays cornet, violin, and moxeño (a wind instrument from Bolivia, looks like a bamboo flute), and is backed by bass and drums. B+(***) [cd]

Jeff Coffin: Between Dreaming and Joy (2022, Ear Up): Saxophonist, from Massachusetts, based in Nashville, plays all of them, plus clarinets, flutes, melodica, percussion, coke bottles, and "bungee chair bass." Debut 1999, recorded a lot after that with Béla Fleck and Dave Matthews, his own discography picking up after 2015. Opens with a couple of appealing funk/groove pieces, diversifies later, which can mean Brazilian and Moroccan percussion, DJ Logic's turntablism, or his flute. B+(**) [cd]

Avishai Cohen Trio: Shifting Sands (2021 [2022], Naïve): Israeli bassist, based in New York, close to 20 albums since 1998. Trio with Elchin Shirinov (piano) and Roni Kaspi (drums), playing originals plus one trad piece. B+(**) [sp]

Caleb Wheeler Curtis: Heat Map (2021 [2022], Imani): Alto/tenor saxophonist, from Michigan, fifth album since 2018, group gets front-cover recognition: Orrin Evans (piano), Eric Revis (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums). Strong showing. B+(***) [cd]

Danger Mouse & Black Thought: Cheat Codes (2022, BMG): Producer Brian Burton, debut 1999, got more attention for his 2004 Grey Album mash-up of the Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album, has a wide range of albums since then, most notably here duos with rappers Doom (Dangerdoom) and Cee-Lo (Gnarls Barkley), hooks up here with Roots rapper Tarik Trotter, who has a lot to say. A-

Lucky Daye: Candydrip (2022, Keep Cool/RCA): R&B singer-songwriter David Brown, from New Orleans, second album. Nice vibe. B+(***) [sp]

Michael Dease: Best Next Thing (2022, Posi-Tone): Trombonist, a dozen albums since 2010, lines up a particuarly strong sextet here with Alex Sipiagin (trumpet), Rudresh Mahanthappa (alto sax), Renee Rosnes (piano), Boris Kozlov (bass), and Rudy Royston (drums). B+(*) [sp]

Vladislav Delay: Isoviha (2022, Planet Mu): Finnish electronic musician Sasu Ripatti, who's used several other names (Luomo is one I recognize) going back at least to 1999. This one tripped and fell into some kind of industrial meatgrinder. B [sp]

Duke Deuce: Crunkstar (2022, Quality Control/Motown): Memphis rapper Patavious Isom, third album, an early single called "Crunk Ain't Dead." B+(*)

DJ Black Low: Monate WA Piano EP (2022, Black Low Music, EP): Young South African Amapiano DJ Sam Austin Radebe, album Uwami was picked up last year by Awesome Tapes From Africa. Then this "EP" (6 songs, 33:43) showed up on streaming services with no press, no explanation. Feels sketchy, unrushed. No piano that I can discern. B+(**) [sp]

DJ Premier: Hip Hop 50: Vol. 1 (2022, Mass Appeal, EP): Chris Martin, from Houston, half of Gang Starr, later PRhyme, has a lengthy production discography. Five-track (14:00) EP starts to recognize 50 years of hip-hop, each track with a guest star (or 2): Joey Bada$$, Rapsody/Remy Ma, Nas, Run the Jewels, Lil Wayne/Slick Rick. B+(**)

Do'a: Higher Grounds (2022, Outside In Music, EP): Jazz singer, plays guitar and piano, grew up in Albania, of "German/Italian/Iranian" ancestry, recorded this eclectic short album (7 songs, 26:11) with a mostly Latin band working remotely. "I Fall in Love Too Easily" is a touchstone. B+(*) [cd]

Doechii: She/Her/Black B*tch (2022, Top Dawg Entertainment/Capitol, EP): Rapper Jaylah Hickman, from Tampa, fourth EP (five tracks, 13:02). B+(**) [sp]

Domi & JD Beck: Not Tight (2022, Apeshit/Blue Note): Self-described as "the internet's most hyped jazz duo": "DOMi" is French "saxophone prodigy" Domitille Degalle, Beck is a "sheep investigator" from Texas. No credits, but I'm hearing keyboards and percussion, fey vocals (more his than hers), and guest spots from Herbie Hancock, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Anderson Paak, Thundercat, Mac DeMarco, Busta Rhymes, and Snoop Dogg. Jazz quotient is about as irreal as their professed interest in quantum physics. B- [sp]

Stella Donnelly: Flood (2022, Secretly Canadian): Australian singer-songwriter, second album, first showed a knack for cataloguing and skewering "male assholes." Some of that here, but not quite as sharp. B+(**) [sp]

Billy Drummond and Freedom of Ideas: Valse Sinistre (2022, Cellar): Drummer, not related to bassist Ray Drummond (although they played together in a trio called the Drummonds, with Renee Rosnes, who at the time was married to Billy). Wikipedia only credits him with four albums (plus four for the Drummonds), but his side credits run over 350. Impressive group here, with Dezron Douglas (bass), Micah Thomas (piano), and Dayna Stephens (sax). B+(***) [cd]

Coco Em: Kilumi (2022, InFiné): Nairobi, Kenya DJ, mixes basic but catchy beats behind guest vocals. Short: 7 songs, 30:19. B+(*) [sp]

Fade In: Live Fast, Die a Legend (2021 [2022], Clean Feed): Italian trio: Federico Calcagno (bass clarinet/clarinet), Pietro Ella Barcellona (contrabass), Marco Luparia (drums). First group album, Calcagno has a 2019 album and a few side credits. B+(**) [bc]

Steven Feifke: The Role of the Rhythm Section (2022, La Reserve): Pianist, based in New York, has a previous big band album, this one an upbeat trio with Dan Chmielinski (bass) and Bryan Carter (drums). B+(*) [sp]

William Flynn: Seaside (2019 [2022], OA2): Guitarist, apparently his first album, is Director of Jazz Studies at Wichita State University (no, I don't know him, pathetic as that seems), wrote this during a month-long winter retreat in Seaside, Florida, and recorded it in Kansas City with piano-bass-drums, voice on two tracks. B+(**) [cd]

Ronnie Foster: Reboot (2022, Blue Note): Organ player, had a run of albums on Blue Note 1972-75, a couple more for Columbia (to 1979), side work with George Benson and Stevie Wonder, returns with his first album in 36 years. Covers include Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely," and a vocal on "Hey Good Lookin' Woman." B+(*) [sp]

Matthew Fries: Lost Time (2021 [2022], Xcappa): Pianist, fifth album, trio with John Hébert (bass) and Keith Hall (drums), original material, dedicates this album to his late mother. B+(**) [cd] [09-23]

Gas: Der Lange Marsch (2021, Kompakt): German ambient techno producer Wolfgang Voigt, released four albums under this alias 1996-2000, three more since 2017. "The Long March" -- mostly uphill. B+(*) [sp]

Phoebe Green: Lucky Me (2022, Chess Club): Pop singer/songwriter from Manchester, first album after an EP (aside from a self-released CDR from 2016). B+(**) [sp]

Ghais Guevara: May Ur Melanin Shield U From Ragnarok (2020, self-released, EP): Philadelphia rapper, virtually no press available on him, but this seems to be the first of several releases. Short and fast (10 songs, 25:36). B+(**) [sp]

Ghais Guevara: There Will Be No Super-Slave (2022, self-released): First full-length album (15 songs, 44:23). Politics a bit more obscure here, but I'm more bothered by the artier turn in the music. B+(*) [sp]

Ghais Guevara: Black Bolshevik (2021, self-released, EP): Eight songs (22:39): "been a rough year, fuck everything else, just prep for the revolution." B+(**) [sp]

Michael Hackett/Tim Coffman Sextet: Western Skies (2022, Summit): Leaders play trumpet/flugelhorn and trombone. Third album for Hackett, first for Coffman (although he has more side credits). Group includes alto sax (Sharel Cassity), piano, bass, and drums, with a couple more credits for extra percussion. B+(*) [cd]

Calvin Harris: Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 (2022, Columbia): Scottish DJ Adam Richard Wiles, called his 2007 debut I Created Disco, released Vol. 1 of this in 2017 -- all of his albums seem to be big hits, so he's rolling in money. He spent some of that on big name guests here (Dua Lipa/Young Thug, Charlie Puth/Shenseea, Justin Timberlake/Halsey/Pharrell Williams, Jorja Smith/Lil Durk, etc.). My choice cut is "New to You," with Normani/Tinashe/Offset riding a cheesy recycled disco riff. B+(***) [sp]

Lauran Hibberd: Garageband Superstar (2022, Virgin): Brit singer-songwriter from Isle of Wight, first album after several singles, title stakes out her pitch and claim, and the best pieces sound like some kind of femme Ramones with a bit of Bowie complex. B+(***) [sp]

Art Hirahara: Ascent (2022, Posi-Tone, EP): Pianist, has been busy the last couple years as producer/label owner Marc Free kept him in the studio, anchoring a house band for all his other artists. Solo here, brief: 3 songs, 10:40. B+(*) [sp]

Art Hirahara: Verdant Valley (2022, Posi-Tone): Pianist, plays some organ, leads the label's "house band" with Boris Kozlov (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums) here as everywhere, plus Donny McCaslin (tenor sax/alto flute) to brighten it all up, and spread joy. B+(***) [sp]

Hudson Mohawke: Cry Sugar (2022, Warp): Scottish DJ/producer Ross Birchard, first alias was DJ Itchy, fourth album since 2009 (not counting his collaboration TNGHT). A bit heavy on the pedal. B+(*) [sp]

Shawneci Icecold Quartet: Coldtrane (2021, Underground 45): Young pianist who does hip-hop on the side, fell in with some well-known avant-jazz folks: Daniel Carter (reeds), Michael Bisio (bass), and Whit Dickey (drums). Nobody's pushed too hard. Short (34:44). B+(**) [cd]

J-Hope: Jack in the Box (2022, HYBE): South Korean rapper Jung Ho-seok, first studio album after a 2018 mixtape, but much better known as a member of BTS. Part English, part Korean -- the latter means nothing to be, but the beats feel agreeably cartoonish. B+(*)

Julia Jacklin: Pre Pleasure (2022, Polyvinyl): Australian singer-songwriter, started in the garage band Phantastic Ferniture, third solo album. B+(*)

Sheila Jordan: Live at Mezzrow (2021 [2022], Cellar Live): She makes it sound like she started as a groupie chasing after Charlie Parker, but she was singing in Detroit before the move to New York, and she studied with Lennie Tristano and Charles Mingus before she married Duke Jordan. But aside from a song for George Russell and a 1962 album for Blue Note, she didn't start recording regularly until she was 36, with Roswell Rudd's Flexible Flyer. After that, she didn't slow down until her 80s, and did this live set at 92, intimately backed by piano (Alan Broadbent) and bass (Harvie S) -- both have long been devoted to her. Her voice no longer stops you in your tracks, and her timing is no longer perfect, but she still scats and ad-libs, so you hang on every word. B+(***) [sp]

Geoffrey Keezer & Friends: Playdate (2021-22 [2022], MarKeez): Pianist, albums since 1988, played in Art Blakey's final 1990 band (post-Marsalis, but with Brian Lynch, Steve Davis, Javon Jackson, and Essiet Essiet). Friends here include Ron Blake (tenor/soprano sax), Shedrick Mitchell (organ), Richie Goods (bass), and Kendrick Scott (drums), as well as guest spots, including too many strings. B+(*) [cd]

Calvin Keys: Blue Keys (2022, Wide Hive): Guitarist, originally from Omaha, headed to California in 1969 and cut his debut in 1971 (recently reissued). With Gary Bartz (alto sax), Steve Turre (trombone), Henry Franklin (bass), Babatunde Lea (percussion), plus seven others in smaller print. Ends on a strong groove. B+(**) [sp]

Kyle Kidd: Soothsayer (2022, American Dreams): Singer (songwriter not clear), from Cleveland, started in Mourning [A] BLKstar (four albums 2017-20, heard of but haven't heard), solo debut, intro reads "living as a queer, androgynous person," gets a lot of support, transcending genre as easily as gender. B+(*) [bc]

Stan Killian: Brooklyn Calling (2021 [2022], Sunnyside): Tenor saxophonist, from Texas, based in New York, third album, quartet with Paul Bollenback (guitar), bass, and drums. B+(**) [sp]

King Princess: Hold On Baby (2022, Zelig/Columbia): Pop singer-songwriter Mikaela Mullaney Straus, identifies non-binary, second album. B+(**)

Kiwi Jr.: Chopper (2022, Sub Pop): Indie band from Toronto, third album. Upbeat. Catchy. B+(***)

Kokoroko: Could We Be More (2022, Brownswood): British 8-piece Afrobeat band, led by Sheila Maurice-Grey (trumpet), first album after several singles and EPs. B [sp]

Clemens Kuratle Ydivide: Lumumba (2021 [2022], Intakt): Swiss drummer, first album was called Murmullo, so he called the group on his second Clemens Kuratle Murmullo. Ydivide is a new quintet, with alto sax (Dee Byrne), piano (Elliot Galvin), guitar (Chris Guilfoyle), and bass (Lukas Traxel). I'm most impressed when the sax charges ahead. B+(*) [sp]

Steve Lacy: Gemini Rights (2022, RCA): Guitarist in r&b/hip-hop collective The Internet, second solo album after a Demo EP. Should be funkier or smoother or something. B [sp]

Lauv: All 4 Nothing (2022, Virgin): American pop singer-songwriter Ari Leff, debut a middling hit (16), second album. Catchy in a rather unassuming way. B+(*) [sp]

Gerard Lebik/John Edwards/Paul Lovens: Lepomis Gibbosus (2015 [2021], Fundacja Sluchaj): Tenor saxophonist, from Poland, Discogs lists 10 albums since 2010, in a trio with bass and drums. Impressive together, but slips into too many doldrums. B+(*) [bc]

José Lencastre: Inner Voices (2020-21 [2022], Burning Ambulance): Portuguese saxophonist (alto/tenor), albums since 2017, some very good. This is solo, but mostly tracking two horns (or electronics?), so tends to sound like a small sax choir. B+(*) [bc]

Lil Silva: Yesterday Is Heavy (2022, Nowhere): British dj/producer, first album after 12 years of singles and side credits. Mixes the pop up front, then goes on a long meander. B+(*) [sp]

Darren Litzie: My Horizon (2022, Summit): Pianist, first record, has two saxophonists (one doubling on flute) as well as bass and drums, wrote 5 (of 10) pieces, opening with Cole Porter and closing with Monk. B+(*) [cd]

Lizzo: Special (2022, Atlantic/Nice Life): R&B singer Melissa Jefferson, fourth album, breakthrough was her third, so this seems more like a second. Starts with three or four possible hits, but fades toward the end -- maybe "fades" isn't the right word for the music, which is strong enough, but doesn't hold my attention like it should. B+(***)

Russ Lossing: Folks (2017 [2022], Sunnyside): Pianist, a couple earlier albums but discography picks up around 2000. This is a trio with John Hébert (bass) and Michael Sarin (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Russ Lossing: Metamorphism (2017 [2021], Sunnyside): Same piano trio, plus Loren Stillman on alto sax. Title split over two lines without hyphen, but most sources take it as a single word. B+(**) [sp]

Brian Lynch and Spheres of Influence: Songbook Vol. 2: Dance the Way U Want To (2018 [2022], Holistic MusicWorks, 2CD): Trumpet player, one of Art Blakey's last Jazz Messengers, albums since 1988, postbop but also quite a bit of Latin jazz, especially with Eddie Palmieri. Decided to reclaim his legacy by re-recording it, which he started with Songbook Vol. 1: Bus Stop Serenade. Second disc reprises the same songs in radio or alternate versions. B+(***) [cd]

Mabel: About Last Night . . . (2022, Polydor): Last name McVey, middle name Alabama-Pearl, father is English music producer Cameron McVey, mother is Neneh Cherry, 2019 debut album was called High Expectations. Second album, cover photo sports blonde hair and lighter skin, but I suppose it could be her. Beats similar to her mother's best albums, none of the songs hook like "Buffalo Stance." B+(**) [sp]

Arlo McKinley: This Mess We're In (2021 [2022], Oh Boy): Country singer/songwriter from Cincinnati, released his debut (Arlo McKinley & the Lonesome Sound) in 2014. Second album since, both on the late John Prine's label. He grows on you, but he's a little short in the humor department. B+(*) [bc]

Megan Thee Stallion: Traumazine (2022, 1501 Certified/300 Entertainment): Rapper Megan Pete, Wikipedia has this as her second studio album, Discogs as her third album, I'd also count the "archival" Something for Thee Hotties. I love everything I've heard by her, and I'm perplexed why others harbor doubts. This feels old style, a bit conservative or at least even-tempered by her standards. Also sports more name guests. Still plenty impressive. A-

Francisco Mela/Shinya Lin: Motions Vol. 1 (2021 [2022], 577): Cuban drummer, has been leaning toward free jazz in recent records, in a duo with the New York-based prepared pianist, who cites John Cage and Cecil Taylor as influences. B+(***) [bc]

Meridian Brothers: Meridian Brothers & El Grupo Renacimento (2022, Ansonia): Colombian group, led by Elbis Alvarez since 2006, not sure whether you'd label them salsa or cumbia, but the reference here is to 1970s salsa dura, aided by hypothetical collaborators from the era. B+(**) [sp]

Meridian Odyssey: Earthshine (2021 [2022], Origin): Seattle sextet, second album, recorded this in Alaska (where guitarist Martin Budde hails from). Drummer Xavier Lecouturier produced, most of the group contribute songs, including Santosh Sharma (tenor sax), Noah Halpern (trumpet), Dylan Hayes (piano), and Noah Feldman (bass). Natty postbop. B+(*) [cd]

Allison Miller/Carmen Staaf: Nearness (2021 [2022], Sunnyside): Drums and piano duo, second album together. B+(**) [sp]

Flo Milli: You Still Here, Ho? (2022, RCA): Rapper Tamia Monique Carter, from Mobile, first studio album after a 2020 mixtape (Ho, Why Is You Here?). B+(**)

Moderat: More D4ta (2022, Monkeytown): German electronica supergroup, combining members from Modeselektor and Apparat. Fourth album, following II and III. B+(**) [sp]

T.S. Monk: Live: Two Continents One Groove (2014-16 [2022], Storyville): Drummer, full name Thelonious Sphere Monk III, played in his famous father's group in the 1970s, other than his name is best known for a funk single in 1981 ("Bon Bon Vie"), Discogs divides his work between T.S. Monk (a funk group, 3 albums) and Thelonious Monk Jr. (6 albums), but he's identified as T.S. Monk on all nine. This is a sextet, his first album since 2003, selected from sets in New York and Bern, with Josh Evans (trumpet), Willie Williams (tenor sax), Patience Higgins (alto sax), Helen Sung (piano), Dave Stryker (guitar), and Kenny Davis (bass). B+(*) [sp]

John Moreland: Birds in the Ceiling (2022, Thirty Tigers): Country singer-songwriter, bounced around as a child but grew up in Tulsa. Albums since 2008. This one seems rather laid back. B+(*) [sp]

Fred Moten/Brandon Lopez/Gerald Cleaver: Moten/López/Cleaver (2020 [2022], Reading Group): Poet, cultural critic, author of books like In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (2003) and The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study, speaks here backed by bass and drums. Seems to be his first album. B+(***) [bc]

Kyle Motl: Hydra Nightingale (2019-21 [2022], Infrequent Seams): Bassist, more than a dozen credits since 2015, takes this one solo, with one original piece, four more from composers I don't recognize, one of those augmented with spoken word snatches, mostly from Ronald Reagan not really explaining the economy. B+(***) [cd]

Nancy Mounir: Nozhet El Nofous (2022, Simsara): Egyptian singer, plays violin and other instruments, first album, sounds rather antiquated. B [sp]

The Mountain Goats: Bleed Out (2022, Merge): Singer-songwriter John Darnielle's band, 21st album since 1994. Not sure of the lyrics, which extoll or maybe just call out revenge, "wage wars get rich die handsome," "make you suffer," an endless supply of oxygen and hostages, and lots of blood -- reportedly written during a "pandemic spent devouring classic action films." That leaves strong images, and the music is as appealing as ever. A- [sp]

Tobin Mueller: Prestidigitation (2022, self-released): Keyboard player, several albums since 2005, also plays rock but this doesn't sound like fusion. More like big band, but the credits don't bear that out. Paul Nelson plays guitar, and Woody Mankowski sings "America," which I found touching at first, then cloying. B- [cd]

Nakama: New World (2021 [2022], Nakama): Norwegian collective/label, half-dozen albums as a group since 2015, more for individuals (especially bassist-composer Christian Meaas Svendsen) and other side projects. Quintet: two sax/clarinet players (Klaus Ellerhusen Holm and Andreas Røysum), piano (Ayumi Tanaka), bass (Svendsen), and drums (Andreas Wildhagen). B+(**) [bc]

Nina Nastasia: Riderless Horse (2022, Temporary Residence): Folkie singer-songwriter, from Los Angeles, seventh album since 2000, first since 2010. Just guitar and voice, but rings true enough. B+(*) [sp]

Rico Nasty: Las Ruinas (2022, Sugar Trap/Atlantic): Rapper Maria-Cecilia Kelly, second album or eighth mixtape (sources differ). B+(**) [sp]

Tami Neilson: Kingmaker (2022, Outside Music): Country singer-songwriter, born in Canada but based in Auckland, New Zealand; fifth album, has done rockabilly and Patsy Cline, spreads this out a bit more, but still snags a duet with Willie Nelson. Ends strong. B+(***) [sp]

Lucas Niggli/Matthias Loibner: Still Storm (2022, Intakt): Swiss drummer, albums since 1993, most share headline credits with others and vary accordingly -- I especially like his albums with Aly Keita and Jan Galega Brönnimann. Loibner is from Austria, records since 2001, plays hurdy gurdy and adds some electronics. Starts ambient, grows from there. B+(**) [sp]

Sinéad O'Brien: Time Bend and Break the Bower (2022, Chess Club): Irish spoken word poet, music has a dark, atmospheric allure. B+(***) [sp]

Panda Bear & Sonic Boom: Reset (2022, Domino): Singer-songwriter Noah Lennox, co-founder of Animal Collective in 1999 and still involved with them, while maintaining a solo career since, well, 1999. Working here with English producer Peter Kember, who he's collaborated with off and on since 2011. I haven't cared for what I've heard in the past -- 3 of 8 albums; 7 more from Animal Collective, never topping B+(*) -- but this is often clever, with some sonic depth and intricacy. Still, I've heard many of the hooks elsewhere (most obviously from the Drifters). B+(**) [sp]

The Paranoid Style: For Executive Meeting (2022, Bar/None): Singer-songwriter and sometime rock critic Elizabeth Nelson, husband Timothy Bracy, and several others, third album, serviceable rock and roll, the speed lets her work more words in, and drop more names (like Barney Bubbles, P.G. Wodehouse, Steve Cropper, and Doug Yule). Ends with a straight cover of "Seven Year Ache," plucked from a list of possibles that probably runs into the hundreds. A- [sp]

Ben Patterson: The Way of the Groove (2022, Origin): Trombone player, second album, background in USAF Airmen of Note, original pieces with guitar (Shawn Purcell), keyboards, bass, and drums, plus tenor sax (Luis Hernandez) on 4/10 tracks. B [cd]

Peaness: World Full of Worry (2022, Totally Snick): Three women, guitar-bass-drums indie pop band from Chester, England, second album (but billed as their debut). B+(**) [sp]

Phelimuncasi: Ama Gogela (2022, Nyege Nyege Tapes): Gqom trio from Durban, South Africa. Beats are hard and dense, and vocals blend in (not that I could understand them anyway, although I gather there is a political dimension). A- [sp]

Ethan Philion: Meditations on Mingus (2021 [2022], Sunnyside): Chicago bassist, arranged ten Mingus compositions for 10-piece band, with Russ Johnson (trumpet) and Geof Bradfield (tenor sax/bass clarinet/flute) the most familiar names in the band. No real surprises: great music, with some juicy bass parts. B+(***) [cd]

Pussy Riot: Matriarchy Now (2022, Neon Gold, EP): Per Wikipedia, "a Russian feminist protest and performance art group," with "a membership of approximately 11 women," although I suspect that is variable and erratic. The long article identifies various download releases, but doesn't attempt a discography. Discogs lists three albums and six singles/EPs (but not this one, a "mixtape" of 7 songs, 19:11). No trademark punk here. Starts light pop, ends up with something like a march, most arresting song goes "I want to hear 'fuck you'." Whatever they are, they're certainly not part of Putin's war machine. B+(*)

RedGreenBlue: The End and the Beginning (2018 [2022], Astral Spirits): Chicago trio -- Paul Giallorenzo (synthesizer, pump organ, electronics), Charlie Kirchen (bass), Ryan Packard (drums, electronics) -- plus Ben Lamar Gay (cornet, electronics) on the second side ("The End"). The cornet helps. B+(*) [bc]

Maggie Rogers: Surrender (2022, Capitol): Singer-songwriter from Maryland, graduate of Harvard Divinity School, second album, 2019 debut charted 2, so this is getting a lot of attention. Starts off solid enough. B+(*)

Gonzalo Rubalcaba/Aymée Nuviola: Live in Marciac (2021 [2022], 5 Passion): Pianist and singer, both from Cuba, both based in Florida. I prefer their 2020 album together (Viento Y Tiempo: Live at the Blue Note Tokyo), probably because the extra rhythm steadies her vocals, whereas she's very much in the spotlight here. B+(**) [cd]

Mark Rubin (Jew of Oklahoma): The Triumph of Assimilation (2021, Rubinchik): Mostly hillbilly banjo tunes framing loose translations of Yiddish poems. This can get a bit heavy (e.g., the closer "Spin the Dreidel"). Remarkable, but I'd appreciate a bit more humor, as in "Down South Kosher." B+(**) [bc]

The Sadies: Colder Streams (2022, Yep Roc): Canadian alt-country band, debut 1998, backed Neko Case and collaborated with Jon Langford, founder Dallas Good died in February (evidently after this was recorded). I don't hear much country in this one. B

Silvan Schmid: Augmented Space (2019-20 [2021], Ezz-Thetics): Swiss trumpet player, first album, solo, credit also for amplifier on the title piece, which he manages to get some rhythm out of. B [bc]

Scorpion Kings X Tresor: Rumble in the Jungle (2020 [2021], Blaqboy): Credit per cover, where Scorpion Kings are South African amapiano producers DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small, and Tresor is Mukengerwa Tresor Riziki, a singer originally from Congo, credited as writer of these 14 pieces (99:00). B+(***) [sp]

Serengeti: Kaleidoscope III (2022, Audio Recon): Chicago rapper David Cohn, very prolific since 2003. I've found three versions of this: a 5-track EP on Spotify, and both 9- and 12-track versions on Bandcamp, with similar but different titles (the latter seems to be available on CD or vinyl, which appeals to my sense that physical objects are the real thing). Stories interesting enough, but flows so easily it seems a bit slight. B+(**) [bc][Later: 2404-1]

Amanda Shires: Take It Like a Man (2022, ATO): Country singer-songwriter, fiddle player, seventh album since 2005. Some striking songs, some bogged down in strings. B+(**) [sp]

Charlton Singleton: Crossroads (2022, BME): Trumpet player from South Carolina, second album a decade after his debut, plays in Ranky Tanky with most of Quentin Baxter's quintet, not only steps out front here but brought his own compositions. B+(**) [cd]

Sinkane: Cartoons of the Night Vol. 1: Live 2019 (2019 [2022], City Slang): Ahmed Abdullahi Gallab, born in London, parents from Sudan, moved to US when he was 5, tenth album since 2007. B- [bc]

Josh Sinton: Steve Lacy's Book of Practitioners, Vol. 1 "H" (2021-22 [2022], FIP): Solo baritone sax, working his way through six Lacy compositions. Sinton's quartet Ideal Bread released three albums of Lacy compositions (2008-14, the latter 2-CD). Obvious appeal limits due to tricky music and instrument, but this is serious stuff. B+(**) [cd]

Alex Sipiagin: Ascent to the Blues (2022, Posi-Tone): Russian trumpet/flugelhorn player, moved to US in 1990, played in big bands before his 1998 debut. Has recorded extensively ever since, mostly for mainstream labels Criss Cross and Posi-Tone. He's joined here by Diego Rivera (tenor sax) and the label's rhythm section (Art Hirahara, Boris Kozlov, Rudy Royston). B+(**) [sp]

Carol Sloane: Live at Birdland (2019 [2022], Club 44): Jazz singer, debut 1962, recorded regularly up to 2010, was 82 when she recorded this set of standards, backed by Mike Renzi (piano, d. 2021), Jay Leonhart (bass), and Scott Hamilton (tenor sax). B+(***) [sp]

Miró Henry Sobrer: Two of Swords (2022, Patois): Trombonist, first album, "a rhythmically harged homage to Catalonian artists," in two "acts," mostly narrated by Francesca Sobrer, with other vocals, but most appealing is the trombone. B+(**) [cd]

Spinifex: Beats the Plague (2021, Trytone): Sextet based in the Netherlands, with saxophonists Tobias Klein and John Dikeman, trumpet (Bart Maris), guitar (Jasper Stadhouders), bass (Gonçalo Almeida), and drums (Philipp Moser), with albums as far back as 2005. They claim an interest in fusion, more punk than funk, but it mostly manifests as noise. More interesting is when they cut loose and play free. B+(**) [cd]

Superorganism: World Wide Pop (2022, Domino): Indie pop band, based in London but with international members from the Far East (Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand). Second album, sets out to unify the world, but not without a little fragmentation. B+(***) [sp]

Sylvan Esso: No Rules Sandy (2022, Loma Vista): Electropop duo from North Carolina, Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn, fourth studio album. B+(***)

Jamie T: The Theory of Whatever (2022, Polydor): British singer-songwriter, last name Treays, fifth album since 2007, other albums have charted top-ten in UK and nowhere else. Has some talent, but nothing makes me want to figure out what or how. B [sp]

Tank and the Bangas: Red Balloon (2022, Verve Forecast): New Orleans-based funk group, half-dozen mostly live albums since 2014, second on this label following 2019's Green Balloon, Tank is singer/rapper Tarronia Ball. B+(***) [sp]

Xiomara Torres: La Voz Del Mar (2022, Patois): Colombian singer, working with Bay Area vibraphonist Dan Neville and others, mostly exploring Afro-Colombian tunes from the Cali region. Odd song out is "Let It Be." B+(*) [cd]

Trio Xolo: In Flower, in Song (2019 [2022], 577): Avant sax trio, no one I've ever heard of before: Zachary Swanson (bass, also the composer), Derrick Michaels (tenor sax), Dalius Naujo (drums). Seems like there are dozens of comparable records, but this one kept growing on me. A- [cd]

Chucho Valdés & Paquito D'Rivera Reunion Sextet: I Missed You Too! (2022, Sunnyside): Cuban jazz stars, piano and alto sax/clarinet, played together in Irakere up to 1980, when D'Rivera left for the U.S., while Valdés continued to lead the band until 2005, establishing an international reputation. This was recorded in Miami, with Cuban expats Diego Urcola (trumpet) and Dafnis Prieto (drums), plus bass and extra percussion. B+(**) [sp]

Luis Vicente/Seppe Gebruers/Onno Govaert: Room With No Name (2019 [2022], Fundacja Sluchaj): Portuguese trumpet player, backed by piano ("unprepared") and drums. B+(*) [bc]

WA Records: If You Fart Make It Sound Good: Ciclo De Improvisacion: Liberada (2018 [2022], WA): From Barcelona, a label and/or collective or perhaps just an ad hoc set of electroacoustic experiments, with most pieces apparently named for their artists, or unnamed by the artists. Not many farts, unless trombones count. Gets better toward the end. B [bc]

Alune Wade: Sultan (2022, Enja): Originally from Senegal, based in Paris, sings some but main instrument is bass guitar, so this is long on groove. Long on everything else, too. B [sp]

Loudon Wainwright III: Lifetime Achievement (2022, StorySound): Folk singer-songwriter, debut 1970, crossed 75 with his 25th studio album. He has been counting the years at least since 2012's Older Than My Old Man Now. He reminds us here that his father died at 62, and he's enough of an ironist to know he's living on borrowed time, turning it into a game where he can do what he wants "for fun and free." Doesn't seem he sweated the music much, even when on the odd occasion he cranked up his band. But he still has things to say, and is finding more all the time. A- [sp]

Chris Walden: Missa Iubileum Aureum (Golden Jubilee Jazz Mass) (2022, Origin): Composer, big band arranger, has done a lot of soundtracks, German-born, based in Los Angeles. Played by LMR Jazz Orchestra, with St. Dominic's Schola Cantorum and featured vocalists Tierney Sutton & Kurt Elling. C- [cd]

Kelsey Waldon: No Regular Dog (2022, Oh Boy): Country singer-songwriter from Kentucky, fifth album since 2010, rings true as always. B+(***) [sp]

Joshua Ray Walker: See You Next Time (2021, State Fair): Dallas-based country singer-songwriter, third album. B+(**) [sp]

Water Damage: Repeater (2022, 12XU): Austin group, two bassists, three drummers, bowed guitar and synthesizer, no vocals, three pieces that grind on (7:13) and on (12:03) and on (22:18). Named their label for a Wire song. A- [sp]

Walt Weiskopf European Quartet: Diamonds and Other Jewels (2022, AMM): Big-toned tenor saxophonist, part of a generation of more/less mainstream players who emerged in the 1990s, has never sounded better than with this quartet, formed in 2016 with Carl Winther (piano) and Anders Mogensen (drums), adding Andreas Lang (bass) in 2019. A- [cd]

Whatever the Weather: Whatever the Weather (2022, Ghostly International): British electronica producer Loraine James, three albums under her own name, tries her hand at ambient here: never an exciting move. B [sp]

Jack White: Entering Heaven Alive (2022, Third Man): Former White Stripe, fifth solo album, second this year, no better than the previous. B- [sp]

Working Men's Club: Fear Fear (2022, Heavenly): Electropop band from Sheffield, UK, metallic sound reminds one of new wave bands like New Order, but they never quite take off. Second album, much like the first. B+(**) [sp]

Neil Young + Promise of the Real: Noise & Flowers (2019 [2022], Reprise): Band formed by Willie Nelson's son Lucas in 2010, has recorded on its own through 2021, backed Young on two studio albums, a soundtrack, and a live album 2015-18, tagged along for this 2019 tour of Europe, playing Young's standard songbook. Rocks hard, sound so-so, nothing you haven't heard before. B+(**)

Miguel Zenón: Música De Las Américas (2022, Miel Music): Alto saxophonist, from Puerto Rico, debut 2022, has won a MacArthur fellowship. Quartet with Luis Perdomo (piano), Hans Glawischnig (bass), and Henry Cole (drums), playing the leader's original compositions. Several guest spots, including one vocal, but most dazzling of all is the sax. A- [cd]

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Albert Ayler Quintet: At Slugs' Salloon 1966 Revisited (1966 [2022], Ezz-Thetics): Tenor saxophonist, quintet set with brother Donald Ayler (trumpet), Michael Samson (violin), Lewis Worrell (bass), and Ronald Shannon Jackson (drums). This set has been kicking around a long time. It's always struck me as strained but not quite to the breaking point. B+(*) [bc]

Brasil Novo ([2022], Música Macondo): Curated by DJ Tahira (from Sao Paulo) and Tim Garcia (London), eight tracks -- "contemporary," other sources say "over the last fifteen years," and talk about hard-to-find 20th century roots -- something called samba de coco, from the more African-influenced nordeste. B+(**) [bc]

Miles Davis Quintet: Live Europe 1960 Revisited (1960 [2022], Ezz-Thetics): Part of a Norman Granz package tour, his last tour with John Coltrane, backed by Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb, with five long takes of four songs ("So What" opens and closes), total 75:23. Material has been reissued a number of times, most definitively in Miles Davis & John Coltrane: The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series Vol. 6 (4-CD), which like this is superb throughout. A- [bc]

Kabaka International Guitar Band: Kabaka International Guitar Band (1977 [2022], Palenque): Nigerian Igbo highlife group, led by G. Kabaka Opara, Discogs lists 13 albums 1977-89. Text says this was recorded in the mid 80s, but the four songs all appear on a 1977 album. B+(***) [bc]

Frank Kimbrough: 2003-2006: Lullabluebye/Play (2003-06 [2022], Palmetto, 2CD): Pianist, originally from North Carolina, moved to New York and taught at NYU and Juilliard, died in 2020 (at 64), which has occasioned a reevaluation: I, for one, was never much of a fan, until his 2017 Monk's Dreams, and even more so the multi-artist Kimbrough in 2021. His first album appeared in 1998, but he's best known for his 2003-14 run on Palmetto. This reissues his first two albums there, a trio with Ben Allison and Matt Wilson, and another trio with Masa Kamaguchi and Paul Motian. I underrated both at the time, especially Lullabluebye. B+(***) [cd]

Phelimuncasi: 2013-2019 (2013-19 [2020], Nyege Nyege Tapes): Early gqom singles, variously produced by DJ Scoturn, DJ MP3, or Menzi, politically aligned left, not that I can tell you why. B+(***) [sp]

Horace Silver Quintet: Live New York Revisited (1964-66 [2022], Ezz-Thetics): Pianist, original leader of the Jazz Messengers, which under Art Blakey invented hard bop. Silver continued with his own quintet, writing some of the most indelible melodies in jazz, especially during this period (this offers two takes of "Afrian Queen," one each of: "Song for My Father," "The Natives Are Restless Tonight," "Que Pasa," "The Tokyo Blues," and "Señor Blues"). With Joe Henderson a tour de force on tenor sax, Carmell Jones or Woody Shaw on trumpet, plus bass and drums. A [bc]

Cecil Taylor: Mixed to Unit Structures Revisited (1966 [2021], Ezz-thetics): First three tracks come from a 1962 album credited to Gil Evans Orchestra (Into the Hot, the follow up to Out of the Cool), but they are distinct from the other three tracks: for starters, Cecil Taylor wrote and played piano on these three, while John Carisi wrote and Eddie Costa was the pianist on the other three. Taylor's cuts featured Archie Shepp, Jimmy Lyons, Henry Grimes, and Sunny Murray; the others went with Gene Quill, Phil Woods, Barry Galbraith, Osie Johnson, etc. When Impulse got around to reissues in 1998, they decided to pull the Taylor cuts out and combine them with a Roswell Rudd session from 1966 (Rudd and Ted Curson played on "Mixed" in the 1961 session; only Rudd returned for the later tracks, so the reissue felt short-changed). This replaces the Rudd tracks with one of Taylor's most famous 1960s albums, with Lyons, Eddie Gale (trumpet), Ken McIntyre (alto sax/bass clarinet), Grimes and Alan Silva (bass), and Andrew Cyrille (drums). B+(***) [bc]

Cecil Taylor: With (Exit) to Student Studies Revisited (1966 [2022], Ezz-Thetics): Student Studies was a quartet set -- piano, Jimmy Lyons (alto sax), Alan Silva (bass), and Andrew Cyrille (drums) -- recorded in Paris (58:47), originally released as 2-LP in 1973 by BYG, with some later reissues as The Great Paris Concert. This opens with a 19:20 sextet piece -- same group plus Bill Dixon (trumpet) and Henry Grimes (bass) -- from the Blue Note album Conquistador!, bringing this to 78:13. Big finale. B+(***) [bc]

Clark Terry Big Bad Band: Live in Holland 1979 (1979 [2022], Storyville): Trumpet player, apprenticed in big bands (Count Basie, Duke Ellington), appeared on some classic bebop albums, his occasional vocals earned him the nickname Mumbles, lived to be 94. Conventional 17-piece group, but few names I recognize. B+(*) [sp]

Bo Van De Graaf: Eccentric Music for Audio Hunters (2002-16 [2021], Icdisc): Dutch saxophonist, plays in the big band I Compani, also responsible for Bo's Art Trio and Bo's Da Bomb. If I'm reading the notes correctly, this was collected from scattered live performances, with compositions for: 25 car horns; 25 wind instruments & piano; 2 hurdy-gurdies & accordion; violin & 15 female voices; "campfiresong"; "the freejazz karaoke." I rarely like odd concept pieces, and the car horns is no exception. But it does end on a nice note. B [cd]

Tommy Womack: 30 Years Shot to Hell: An Anthology (1987-2017 [2022], Schoolkids, 2CD): Singer-songwriter from Kentucky, more alt-rocker than country but his songs can fit and teach them a thing or two. Started with the band Government Cheese, which provides four songs here, plus three more for two bands he played in with Will Kimbrough (The Bis-Quits, Daddy), which leaves 35 from his solo work. More than half is remarkable, rest has a chance. May be too much, but he's entitled to include it all. A- [sp]

Old Music

Bad Brains: Bad Brains (1982, ROIR): DC hardcore punk band, first album, gimmick was that they were rastafaris and peppered their thrash metal with reggae nods, but nothing you can skank to. B+(**) [sp]

Bad Brains: Rock for Light (1983, PVC): Second album, a bit slicker I suppose, but is that a plus? B [sp]

Bob Brookmeyer: Back Again (1978 [1990], Gazell): Valve trombonist (1929-2011), has a reputation as an arranger, so his records tend to be overly thought out. But this quintet didn't need much direction to satisfy him: Thad Jones (flugelhorn/cornet), Jimmy Rowles (piano), George Mraz (bass), Mel Lewis (drums). A- [cd]

The Chap: Mega Breakfast (2008, Lo/Ghostly International): British experimental pop band, 7 albums 2001-12, two since then (2015, 2019). Has a jerky insouciance that might prove interesting if you're into that sort of thing. B+(**) [sp]

George Coleman/Tete Montoliu: Dynamic Duo (1977 [1992], Timeless): Tenor sax and piano duo. B+(*) [sp]

George Coleman: Amsterdam After Dark (1978 [1989], Timeless): Tenor sax quartet with piano (Hilton Ruiz), bass (Sam Jones), and drums (Billy Higgins). B+(**) [sp]

Dead Moon: Echoes of the Past (1988-2004 [2006], Sub Pop, 2CD): Garage rock band from Oregon, founded 1988, led by Fred Cole (singer/guitarist), with Toody Cole (bass, his wife) and Andrew Loomis (drums). Recorded studio 10 albums through 2004, 4 more live, plus a couple early compilations picking up singles and stuff. I'm not finding any dates here, but Cole saw this as a final summing up: they toured Europe in support of the album, then broke up. Nothing here is great enough to be deemed essential, but none of it is disappointing either. I don't see myself wanting to explore further, but as a chunk of history, this is a pretty fair memento. A-

Desole: A Story to Tell (2006, Abacus): Indie band from Arizona, accents optional but not on cover. As best I recall, I got a promo at the time and never found time to play it. Doesn't look like they ever recorded anything else, so now it's just a checklist item. Not awful, but a bit fancy/artsy, aimed at arenas they never came close to. B

Julie Dexter/Khari Simmons: Moon Bossa (2006 [2007], Brash Music): British soul/jazz singer, moved to Atlanta in 1999, four albums 2002-11, Simmons is an Atlanta-based producer, credits lacking but figure him for the easy groove, which only occasionally reminds one of Brazil. [ex-CD] B+(*)

Disques Vogue: In Paris Highlights (1948-56 [1995], RCA): French jazz label, established 1947 by Léon Cabat and Charles Delaunay, appears to be unrelated to the American label Vogue Records, but a British offshoot was founded in 1951, initially named Vogue Records, later Vocalion. The labels were bought up by BMG, RCA Victor, and eventually Sony Music. RCA did a series of of ten CD reissues c. 1995, for which this is a sampler. The artists are famous Americans who passed through Paris, some live, others studio. This picks out 20 tracks, some nice ones, but the series is rather mixed. B+(**) [cd]

Peggy Duquesnel: Summertime Lullaby (2009 [2010], Joyspring Music): Standards singer, plays piano, Discogs lists three albums (including a 2-CD Xmas), website links to a new album, Piano for My Soul (filed under "New Age/Meditation"; Amazon product description says it's her 16th self-released album). Very serviceable, especially her piano. [ex-CD] B

Esquire's All American Hot Jazz Sessions (1946-47 [1988], RCA): Esquire was (still is, despite numerous ups and downs) a magazine, founded in 1933. It ran a jazz poll piece in 1943, which to organizing concerts. I'm not sure when they stopped, but Playboy, which eclipsed them in the 1960s, ran its own jazz poll for many years. This rounds up their mostly swing-oriented picks for 1946-47, with extra cuts from related artists (Jack Teagarden, Lucky Thompson). I wish it was easier to decipher the credits -- Discogs is no help -- but the first All Stars lead off with Louis Armstrong singing and Duke Ellington on piano, with Johnny Hodges on alto and Don Byas on tenor; the second group only repeats Charlie Shavers, but picks up Buck Clayton, Coleman Hawkins, and Teddy Wilson (among others). Leonard Feather is MC, and claims 8 writing credits. CD adds 5 extra cuts, by Art Tatum, Erroll Garner, and Mildred Bailey. B+(**) [cd]

Michael Jon Fink: A Temperament for Angels (2004, Cold Blue Music, EP): Electronic music composer. Discogs credits him with 7 recordings (4 albums, 2 singles/EPs, 1 miscellaneous), most 2001-04 with outliers (1982, 2014, 2019); also played in the Negative Band on a Stockhausen album I remember from 1975. This is considered a single, but as a single 28:24 piece should at least count as an EP. Ambient electronics, occasional strings and cymbal. B+(*) [cd]

Jim Fox: The City the Wind Swept Away (2004, Cold Blue Music, EP): Electronic music composer, has a handful of records 1998-2013, this one a 22:25 single, performed on piano, strings (a quartet), and trombones (3). Still ambient. B+(*) [cd]

T.D. Jakes: Praise & Worship (1978-98 [2008], Verity/Legacy): Kind of a big deal among the holy rollers, styles himself as the bishop of an unaffiliated Dallas megachurch, The Potter's House, broadcasting his sermons as The Potter's Touch. He's hobnobbed with Bush and Obama, appeared on Dr. Phil and in a handful of films, some based on his novels (a subset of the 30+ books he's published). He works his choir hard, having them solo at the start and for breaks, but they're also foils for his own spiels, which I find amusing but are no doubt as meant as sincere and even profound -- at least as much as this consummate showman can muster. B+(**) [cd]

Elmore James: The Classic Early Recordings 1951-1956 (1951-56 [1994], Virgin, 3CD): Major blues figure, born in Mississippi, eventually made his way to Chicago, hit on his signature guitar riff on his first single ("Dust My Broom"), returned to it often, died at 45 in 1963, leaving 12 years of records, nearly all superb, although Rhino's Robert Palmer-selected 1993 compilation (The Sky Is Falling: The History of Elmore James) is possibly all you need. These early cuts are also available in less redundant 1-CD packages -- Let's Cut It: The Very Best of Elmore James (1991) and Blues Kingpins (2003) are two I own and recommend highly -- but when the trick is this good redundancy isn't much of a complaint. His later compilations, like Shake Your Money Maker: The Best of the Fire Sessions (2001) and King of the Slide Guitar (1992) are even better, and The Complete Fire and Enjoy Recordings (3-CD, from 1995) doesn't suffer either. A-

Rafael Karlen: The Sweetness of Things Half Remembered (2014, Pinnacles Music): Australian tenor saxophonist, first album, only a couple more since. Backed by piano (Steve Newcomb) and string quartet. It is gently paced and rather lovely, although the strings are still a bit arch for my taste. B+(***) [bc]

Kent Kessler: Bull Fiddle (2001 [2002], Okka Disk): Chicago bassist, probably best known in the Vandermark 5 (1997-2010), but he's played in number of more/less related groups, including several with Rodrigo Amado. This is his only album as sole leader, but he's joined by Michael Zerang (drums) on 4/12 tracks. B+(**) [cd]

Ingrid Laubrock: Who Is It? (1998, Candid): German saxophonist, first album, based in London at the time. Quintet with Kim Burton (keyboards/accordion), Ife Tolentino (guitar), bass, and percussion. Closes with a vocal on a Brazilian tune. B+(**) [sp]

Ingrid Laubrock: Some Times (2001, Candid): Second album, plays soprano/alto/tenor sax and sings (a song), with Julian Siegel (alto/tenor sax and bass clarinet), trumpet, trombone, piano, guitar, bass, and drums. B+(***) [sp]

Ingrid Laubrock With Liam Noble & Tom Rainey: Sleepthief (2007 [2008], Intakt): Trio recorded in London -- sax, piano, drums -- a year before Laubrock moved to New York. B+(***) [sp]

Lizzo: Lizzobangers (2009-13 [2014], Virgin): First album, released 2013, then picked up and reshuffled for a major label. Started out as a rapper here, which adds some snap. B+(**)

Lizzo: Coconut Oil (2016, Nice Life/Atlantic, EP): Between albums 2 and 3, six songs, 19:28. B+(**)

Louisiana Saturday Night (1959-93 [1993], Ace): Cajun rockers, many with string bands and squeeze boxes but some more minimal, not all names I recognize (but most are, just no more famous than the Kershaws, Rockin' Sidney, Bobby Charles, or Frankie Ford), probably not all white (but most are). Starts strong, but the long night wears down. B+(***) [cd]

Milton Nascimento: Yauarete (1987, Columbia): Brazilian singer-songwriter, guitarist, a major figure since his 1967 debut, albeit one I have next to no experience with. The fast ones have some interesting twists. B+(**) [sp]

New Bloods: The Secret Life (2008, Kill Rock Stars): Art-punk band from Portland, three women, violin-bass-drums, all sing some, none notably. Eleven songs count as an album, even if they only add up to 23:36. Comes close but slips a bit toward the end. B+(***) [bc]

Ken Peplowski/Howard Alden: Concord Duo Series: Volume Three (1992 [1993], Concord): Discogs decided the title was the Ken Peplowski & Howard Alden, but spine and elsewhere use the slash. My title is on the front over as a logo, but not on the spine. Back cover adds "Recorded Live at Maybeck Recital Hall." In the label's prime, Concord rounded up every notable mainstream pianist in the country to do a solo set there. Their 1992-96 Duo Series ran out at 10, mostly musicians whose careers were revived by the label. Peplowski plays clarinet and tenor sax, Alden guitar. Both lean toward swing era standards, but here they look back to Jelly Roll Morton and Bix Beiderbecke, and into the bop era with Charlie Parker and Lennie Tristano. B+(***) [cd]

Maurice Peress: The Birth of Rhapsody in Blue: Paul Whiteman's Historic Aeolian Hall Concert of 1924 (1996, Musicmasters): His name seems like a joke on first acquaintance these days, but Paul Whiteman (1890-1967) was the biggest jazz band leader in 1920s, with sales of nearly two million for a 1920 release, and numerous other hits: he had much more to do with the 1920s being called "the jazz age" than Armstrong or Ellington. He employed some of the best-known white jazz musicians of the age (Bix Beiderbecke, Frankie Trumbauer, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Jack Teagarden, Bunny Berrigan, many more), as well as singers like Bing Crosby and Mildred Bailey (also, crossing the color line, he backed Paul Robeson on his classic "Ol' Man River"). One of his biggest coups was staging the 1924 debut of George Gershwin's jazz-influenced "Rhapsody in Blue." Peress (1930-2017), who started in New York under Leonard Bernstein and went on to conduct many orhestras, as well as to write Dvorak to Duke Ellington: A Conductor Explores America's Music and Its African American Roots, reconstructed Whiteman's concert and conducted, featuring Ivan Davis and Dick Hyman on piano. I recall Gary Giddins praising this in his campaign to get more jazz played by classical repertory orchestras. B+(***) [cd]

Bobby Previte: Empty Suits (1990, Gramavision): Drummer, albums since 1986, also guitar, keyboard, percussion, electronics, and vocals here. Group is a quintet with trombone (Robin Eubanks), guitar, keyboards, and bass, plus a half dozen guests, most famously Elliott Sharp (guitar) and Marty Ehrlich (alto sax). Music has elements of fusion but is otherwise hard to pin down. B+(**) [cd]

Maddy Prior/June Tabor [Silly Sisters]: No More to the Dance (1988, Shanachie): English folk singers, not sisters, both born in 1947, Maddy the better known due to her fronting of Steeleye Span. June's first album was a 1976 duo with Maddy called Silly Sisters, reunited here, the cover with both credits. Both have many solo albums and collaborations since the late 1970s. Very trad, not my thing, but nice together. [ex-CD] B+(*) [sp]

Raise Your Window: A Cajun Music Anthology Vol. 2: The Historic Victor/Bluebird Sessions 1928-1941 (1928-41 [1993], Country Music Foundation): Previous volume was called Le Gran Mamou, and covers the same years, with many of the same artists, but this is the one I happened to stumble on. Classic stuff, expertly selected and annotated. I'd be surprised if Vol. 1 isn't every bit as good. A- [cd]

Draco Rosa: Vino (2008, Phantom Vox): Singer/songwriter from Puerto Rico, started out in boy band Menudo (with Ricky Martin, whose breakout album Rosa produced), went solo in 1988 as Robby. This one is in Spanish, including covers of Cohen and Dylan. Mainstream rock feel, although that may be misleading. B [sp]

Mark Rubin (Jew of Oklahoma): Southern Discomfort (2015, Rubinchik): "Oklahoma-born, Texas-reared, and now living in New Orleans," spent some time in Austin where he founded the bands Killbilly and Bad Livers (better known, he played upright bass and tuba). First album under this moniker. A- [sp]

Ashlee Simpson: Bittersweet World (2008, Geffen): Short-lived pop star, younger sister of Jessica Simpson, released three albums 2004-08, first two platinum, got dropped when this one fell short, has done some acting since, and a 2018 EP with husband Evan Ross (Ashlee + Evan). B+(**) [sp]

Frank Sinatra: Capitol Records Concept Albums (1953-61 [2004], Capitol, 14CD): Growing up, I didn't care much for him as a singer, but always thought he was a terrific actor, and occasional songs from the 1960s charmed me. So I hardly knew anything before his founding of Reprise in 1961 until well after the fact. His early work divides into three neat eras: as a big band singer, especially with Tommy Dorsey (1940-42); a declining period with Columbia (1946-52); and his revival with Capitol (1953-61). A decade before Elvis, he was the nation's biggest teen dream. After Elvis, he was the very definition of adult music. Straddling those periods, he was the first major LP artist: while his "concept albums" fell short of the term as I knew it in the 1970s, each formed a coherent whole, while most other LPs dissoled into hits + filler. His voice was unique, smooth and precise, simply masterful. His bands ranged from perfunctory to bombastic, or often sunk into a morass of strings. I had merely sampled him when I picked this slim box up in a going-out-of-business sale, figuring it would be nice to own them all, but more often than not I went to streaming sources to plug the holes. When I finally got to this, I had heard all but the final album (Point of No Return), with its perfect vocals adorning a maudlin string backup. Individual album grades follow. B+(***) [cd]

  • Swing Easy! (1954, EP): A
  • Songs for Young Lovers (1954, EP): B+(***)
  • In the Wee Small Hours (1954-55 [1955]): A-
  • Songs for Swingin' Lovers (1956): A+
  • Close to You (1956 [1957]): B+(*)
  • A Swingin' Affair! (1956): B+
  • Where Are You? (1957): B
  • Come Fly With Me (1957 [1958]): B+(**)
  • Sings for Only the Lonely (1958): B
  • Come Dance With Me! (1958 [1959]): B+(***)
  • No One Cares (1959): B-
  • Nice 'N' Easy (1960): B+(***)
  • Sinatra's Swingin' Session (1960 [1961]): A-
  • Come Swing With Me! (1961): A-
  • Point of No Return (1961 [1962]): B+(*)

Slickaphonics: Wow Bag (1982, Enja): Jazz-funk group, first of five 1982-88 albums, I filed them under Ray Anderson's name (trombone, lead vocals) but most of the songs were written by Allan Jaffe (guitar) and/or Mark Helias (bass). With Steve Elson (tenor sax) and Jim Payne (drums). Rhythm is trickier than other funk bands, but vocals are weaker. Anderson's later Alligatory Band returned to this concept, while his relationship with Helias became BassDrumBone. B+(**) [sp]

Slickaphonics: Modern Life (1984, Enja): Second album, writing credits pretty evenly spread out except for new saxophonist Daniel Wilensky. B+(*) [sp]

Hank Snow: 16 Top Tracks (1961-65 [1988], RCA): Part of RCA's "Diamond Series": at least 25 single-artist comps with 16 tracks each, all released in 1988 with stock artwork proclaiming "Digitally remastered from original recordings." I only count 6 country artists (Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Jim Reeves, and Snow), mixed in with 1930s jazz (Benny Goodman, Fats Waller), early rock (Elvis Presley, Duane Eddy) and soul (Sam Cooke, Eartha Kitt), plus some outliers (Mario Lanza, Jose Feliciano). I loved Snow's 1985 duo with Willie Nelson (Brand on My Heart, so this is probably the first collection of his I bought. Turns out it was assembled from early 1960s albums, two of which were covers of other people's hits, so the only Snow smash here is "I've Been Everywhere." The next Snow comp I bought picked up his early (1949-56) hits: I'm Movin' On and Other Great Country Hits, which came out in 1990. Highly recommended, but 1997's The Essential Hank Snow sweeps the field, from 1950-73. Best discovery here is "The Last Ride," but he also does pretty credible takes on others like Don Gibson and Dave Dudley and Johnny Horton. B+(***) [cd]

Songs From Chippy (1994, Hollywood): Chippy was a musical theatrical play, written by Jo Harvey Allen and Terry Allen, set in West Texas in the 1930s. The Songs were recorded in Joe Ely's home studio, the various artists including the Allens, Ely, Butch Hancock, Robert Earl Keen, Wayne Hancock, and Jo Carol Pierce. These artists probably have a dozen A-list albums between them (more if you include Pierce's ex-husband, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, who came out of the same Lubbock plain). Lots of prime songs here, especially Ely's trademark groove. A couple I even recognize from elsewhere (like Wayne Hancock's "Thunderstorms & Neon Signs" and Pierce's "I Blame God"). A- [cd]

Bob Stewart: Then & Now (1995-96 [1996], Postcards): Tuba player, started with Arthur Blythe in 1977, chances are if you heard a tuba in a non-trad jazz album between then and about 2010, it was either Stewart or Howard Johnson. Wide range of material here, three originals, covers of Jelly Roll Morton and Ornette Coleman, a standard ("You Don't Know What Love Is"), two songs each by guests Carlos Ward (alto sax) and Taj Mahal (guitar and vocals). Some bits seem a bit off, but the tuba ties it all together. B+(***) [sp]

Stompin' Western Swing: Roots of Rock 'n' Roll Vol. 2 (1936-41 [1996], President): British label, founded 1957, started in mainstream pop, had some success with disco imports in the 1970s. This Roots of Rock 'n' Roll series ran to 7 volumes, given a free hand by the EU's 50-year copyright limit to pick essential records. It started with Vol. 1: Big Band, Blues & Boogie, which just from reading the song list I'd be hard pressed to improve on (leads off with "Flyin' Home," "The Honeydripper," "Walk 'Em," "Minnie the Moocher," eventually hitting "Five Guys Named Moe," before ending with Big Bill Broonzy and Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup). This one has a bit less to pick from, but hits everyone you'd expect, from Milton Brown, Hank Penny, Bob Wills, and Cliff Bruner through the Modern Mountaineers and the Blue Ridge Playboys. There are comparable western swing sets, but few that end this strong. A- [cd]

Swing-Groups: 1931 to 1936 [Robert Parker's The Golden Years in Digital Stereo] (1931-36 [1987], ABC): Parker (1936-2004) was an Australian audio engineer who developed a process for converting old 78 rpm records to digital stereo. He used this to release several dozen CDs of public domain material, some single-artist sets (Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Fats Waller, Gracie Fields, Al Bowly), but most were topical compilations, ranging from Opera 1904 to 1935 to Saucy Songs 1928 to 1938. This grabs 16 songs from as many big bands, most but not all as white as the cover pic. Sound seems good, but I'm not one to be picky. B+(**) [cd]

A Taste of Soca (1993-94 [1994], Ice): A contraction of "soul of calypso," first defined by Lord Shorty in 1975, seems like a parallel to the development of reggae to dancehall and ragga, the rhythm harder and the words cruder than with calypso. Eddy Grant founded the label to compile calypso classics, but went on to release a fair amount of contemporary soca, of which this is a sampler. I'm a sucker for the beats, but still prefer the wordsmiths, which here include Duke as well as Sparrow. B+(***) [cd]

Joris Teepe Quintet: For Adults Only (1998 [2000], Postcards): Dutch bassist, debut 1995, recorded this in New York at Smalls Jazz Club, features two saxophonists he had been working with (Don Braden and Chris Potter), David Hazeltine (piano), and Bruce Cox (drums). B+(**) [sp]

The Three Johns: Eat Your Sons (1990, Tupelo): Side project for Mekon guitarist Jon Langford, with John Hyatt (vocals), Philip "John" Brennan (bass), and a drum machine. Ran from 1981-98, producing several great records, especially 1986's The World by Storm, then regrouped for this swan song in 1990. Postpunk, has the urgency but less clear on the mission. B+(**) [lp]

Abdul Wadud/Leroy Jenkins: Straight Ahead/Free at Last (1979, RED): Cellist (1947-2022), born Ronald DeVaughn, father of r&b singer Raheem DeVaughn, played in Black Unity Trio (1971), several albums each with Julius Hemphill and Arthur Blythe. Duo here with the violinist, with two side-long pieces written by Jenkins. B+(***)

Vickie Winans: Praise & Worship (2003-06 [2008], Verity/Legacy): Gospel singer, birth name Bowman, from Michigan, sang with International Sounds of Deliverance as a teenager, married Marvin Winans (of the gospel group Winans), solo debut in 1985. This draws on her two albums for Verity (plus a live track), long on chorus and bombast. B-

Tommy Womack: Stubborn (2000, Sideburn): Thought I'd check out some of his earlier albums I had missed. This was the oldest I found on Spotify, second in his list. Opens rockabilly, has some interesting songs. B+(**) [sp]

Tommy Womack: Circus Town (2002, Sideburn): Most songs are memorable, the hot ones like "You Can't Get There From Here" instant hits, the ballads take a little longer, unless the jokes are especially obvious. One highlight is everything you need to know about "The Replacements." A- [sp]

The Tommy Womack Band: Washington D.C. (2002 [2003], self-released): Radio shot, title reflects where it was recorded, nothing much you'd consider political. Band credit emphasizes loud and fast, which suits them fine. Not sure whether these songs are original here, but I recognize a number of them from the 30 Years compilation. B+(***) [sp]

Tommy Womack: Namaste (2016, self-released): Title a greeting used in yoga. One song cites the Dalai Lama to become a better Christian, but after surveying ancient Rome and Jerusalem, he concludes ("God Part III"): "I believe in Beatles, I believe in love." Ten more songs, some trivial, some funny, a closer that is plainly lovely, all worth hearing again. A- [sp]

Further Sampling

Records I played parts of, but not enough to grade: -- means no interest, - not bad but not a prospect, + some chance, ++ likely prospect.

Jane Ira Bloom/Mark Helias: See Our Way (2021-22 [2022], Radio Legs): Soprano sax/bass duets, second volume together. [4/13 tracks] + [bc]

Revised Grades

Sometimes further listening leads me to change an initial grade, usually either because I move on to a real copy, or because someone else's review or list makes me want to check it again:

Dan Ex Machina: All Is Ours, Nothing Is Theirs (2022, self-released): New Jersey band and/or singer-songwriter Dan Weiss -- not the drummer, nor the other drummer, but known to me mostly as a rock critic. Several albums and EPs on Bandcamp, little noted elsewhere. This batch was written 2003-11, played live and eventually recorded over the last decade, with shifting lineups, but they get better as the record goes on (and as you play it more). One called "Drinking and Driving (Separately)" finally delivers everything that the pre-rock-and-roll scolds feared. [was: B+(***)]] A- [cd]

Frank Kimbrough: Lullabluebye (2003 [2004], Palmetto): [was: B] B+(***) [cd]

Frank Kimbrough: Play (2005 [2006], Palmetto): [was: B] B+(**) [cd]

Derek Senn: The Big Five-O (2022, self-released): Singer-songwriter from San Luis Obispo, three previous albums, claims he's sold out a venue in Aberdeen ("where his Americana's more popular than with the Americans"). Some topical songs, some personal, at least one on the "Zeitgeist." Mostly mild-mannered, but "Texas Legislature" riles his blood. [was: B+(**)] A- [sp]

Music Weeks

Music: Current count 38595 [38383] rated (+212), 52 [77] unrated (-25).

Excerpts from this month's Music Week posts:

August 1, 2022

Music: Current count 38430 [38383] rated (+47), 75 [77] unrated (-2).

Nothing much to say this week, except I'm still here, and functional at a fairly minimal level.

Recommended music links:

August 8, 2022

Music: Current count 38474 [38430] rated (+44), 77 [75] unrated (+2).

Still pretty down and out, but I forced myself to compile a Speaking of Which, rushed out without any editing Sunday evening (with a couple minor edits today, and a bit more on Taiwan, where my natural predeliction for sanity may have been too optimistic -- after all, I didn't think Putin would invade Ukraine in March, and couldn't imagine continuing the war this long, despite having a pretty good understanding of US provocations).

Nothing much to add to the music below. Pain and ennui may have contributed to the dearth of A-list albums. I had a tough time coming up with things to listen to, and didn't have a lot of patience with those I found. Toward the end of the week, I was desperate enough to start picking items off Chuck Eddy's 2008 list. Of the B+(***) albums, the one I came closest to picking was Calvin Harris: Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 (much better than the 65/6 at AOTY). Another one that might benefit from extra time is Moten/López/Cleaver. The Expert Witness group seems to really like Amanda Shires, but I didn't hear it.

I'll review Trio Xolo next week, but with nothing else to show for this week, I'm putting the cover stage right. I played it three times before the cutoff without making up my mind, then three more times after. It doesn't drop until Aug. 19, so no need to rush it. Most of what's in the queue doesn't come out until later.

I'll try to catch up on some neglected correspondence later this week. Wish I could say I'm feeling better, but at least I'm coping better.

August 15, 2022

Music: Current count 38520 [38474] rated (+46), 60 [77] unrated (-17).

I wrote a fairly substantial Speaking of Which last week, posting it on Sunday. I added another link and comment on China/Taiwan today, prompted by mail from Crocodile Chuck. War gaming is not my thing, but every scenario I've been able to imagine is bad to worse for everyone involved. Of course, that was also true for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but the dangers of China invading Taiwan are probably an order of magnitude greater. Chuck is so worried by Biden's complicity-verging-on-taunting that he's feeling nostalgic for Trump, but he's in Australia, so would escape many of the horrors another Trump term would entail. I also think he underappreciates how unstable Trump is, especially if his hand-picked cronies decide to challenge his manhood.

Made a sizable dent in the unrated albums list this week. The records I picked up here were mostly filed in the cases I originally set up when we moved here in 1999. 17 of the remaining 60 are new promos, so I know where they are, and I'll pick them up routinely over the next few weeks (11 are still advances). The others are going to prove harder to find, but a big chunk were 2006-08 promos I never bothered with, so they may be hiding out together. (In any case, I probably had good reason for ignoring them.) Then there are a couple large boxes. I graded the Sinatra this week based on past grades (plus streaming the one I missed).

August 22, 2022

Music: Current count 38552 [38520] rated (+32), 51 [60] unrated (-9).

Another lousy week, this one again cutting into my listening, as I struggled to find things as well as to write. Still managed to come up with two A- records early in the week (Dangermouse/Black Thought, Megan Thee Stallion). On Thursday, Robert Christgau posted his vacation-delayed Consumer Guide. I had previously recorded grades for 12 (of 14) albums, but mostly lower grades (exception was the Regrettes aptly-titled Further Joy, near the top of my 2022 list). Given that the week was already wasted, I decided to do some re-listening, and several of those albums got better. It helped that Dan had since my initial review sent me a CD. Also that I picked up a physical of Beyoncé: after the revised review below was written, but I noticed much more detail, which helped push it up the list. Senn was probably a just case of shifting weight to the good parts from the less inspired parts. And Lizzo? I went through five more passes, each starting with songs I loved and ending with me having lost attention somewhere in the second half. On a sixth play, I forced myself to pay attention all the way to the end. The second half does have some good stuff, but only if you work at it. That's not my definition of A-list pop. I also gave Kari Faux (a 2021 album I heard and quickly forgot) another spin, and left it at B+(*). Also the Regrettes, which I moved up a bit to the top slot on this year's list. (I didn't bother rewriting the review, which you can find back in June.)

Of the two records I hadn't heard, The Paranoid Style was on my radar, but hadn't been available until this week. Folk and Great Tunes From Siberia and the Far East isn't on my streaming services. (The sample is worth its 2:38, but doesn't prove that 2-CD will be worth the trouble.) I will note that the Russian "republics" -- why the quotes? that's what they're called, while what we call "Russia" is officially a federation of republics -- Christgau has "never heard of" are confused with misspellings, which doesn't attest much to the documentation.

I also wasted time writing a new review of África Negra's Antologia Vol. 1, only to find that I already had one (back in May), same grade but with group name misspelled. I was pretty sure I had heard that one, but couldn't find it until it was too late.

I do have a fairly long Speaking of Which to show for last week. I've had to fiddle with it a few times since: adding the Marcotte example, tuning the Soros language, fixing typos (the 'c' key on this keyboard seems to be on strike) and mental lapses (Barry, not Bobby, Bonds). Still has some points I can see weaving into a book.

I didn't get to this week's releases in my tracking and metacritic files (tracking file is up to 2638 albums, with 896 of my grades). Not much happening in August, anyway, and I'll catch up soon enough. More pressing for me is installing a new mesh wireless router. I'm bugged that it comes with zero documentation, other than "download the app and follow instructions." That's the same sort of "idiot proofing" that came with my printer, which still doesn't work properly, possibly because it's impossible to understand how it's supposed to work. Hopefully, the new wireless will end my wife's complaints about dead spots for her portable devices. I'm still wired for pretty much everything, so the impact on me is more likely to be breaking things.

Speaking of breaking things, I need to install the new Ubuntu release this week. Also need to do some programming. No idea what I'll be listening to.

August 29, 2022

Music: Current count 38595 [38595] rated (+0), 52 [52] unrated (+0).

This is the last Monday in August, so wraps up the August archive (link above). I'll do the indexing later, but for now, the count for the five-week month is +212 rated, -25 unrated. Latter number failed to drop this week because I got a big package of fall releases from Matt Merewitz. All of the pending promos in my queue have September or October release dates. I jumped the gun a couple times below, but generally held myself back.

Two notable, relatively young jazz musicians died last week: Jaimie Branch (39, trumpet/vocals), and Joey DeFrancesco (51, organ). The latter is survived by his father, another organ player, Papa John DeFrancesco. The Branch list will direct you to a couple of A- live albums, but misses the side-credits, which include A- work with James Brandon Lewis, Dave Rempis, Rob Mazurek, and Heroes Are Gang Leaders (Lewis again, but worth noting in their own right).

Also passed last week was producer Creed Taylor (93). He started at Bethlehem Records in the 1950s, headed up ABC's Impulse! label during its 1960s heyday, and ran his own CTI label in the 1970s (results there were mixed, but the 1970s were a tough decade for above-ground jazz).

The Wichita Eagle finally published an obituary for Dotty Billings -- I wrote a bit about her a couple weeks ago. It's a pretty deep survey of a remarkable life. We were fortunate to have known her, and counted her a friend.

Christian Iszchak has published another of his excellent An Acute Case consumer guides. As usual, I'm struggling to keep up. Phil Overeem published a remarkable one-record-per-year list on Facebook. That steered me to the Dead Moon comp, and convinced me to give Tommy Womack some deeper listening. Phil mentions recent reading of a Womack memoir, but as far as I can tell, doesn't specify: Dust Bunnies (2018) seems to be the most recent, but there's also Cheese Chronicles (2008). (I haven't done an album dive on his early Government Cheese group, but I have a 2-CD compilation from 2010 as a high B+.)

Now I'm wondering if I didn't shortchange Loudon Wainwright III's Years in the Making. It's hard to listen to these long multi-CD sets by streaming. Besides, the box violates my album cover formatting standards, but it's more or less at the same level. On the other hand, it's an odds & sods compilation, whereas the Dead Moon and Tommy Womack 2-CD sets are true career summaries.

I wrote another fairly long Speaking of Which last week, posted late last night. It's been suggested that I should break the long paragraphs up, but that runs against my formatting concept. Also the fact that I'm reading it in my text editor instead of on the browser screen, but mostly that I'm exhausted by the first pass and never feel like taking the extra time for an edit. (On the rare occasions when I do, I inevitably wind up changing lots of things. E.g., I just added a line to the Madeleine Ngo item: "Economics has long prided itself on being 'the dismal science,' but its attraction to sadists is less often recognized.")

I should also note that I've changed the website home page to do an automatic redirect to the blog. Another reader request, and a fairly easy one to do. I should probably write a new explainer page.

Only got the new router half-installed: I was gratified to at least get the wired machines working, but still need to work on the wireless and other details. Will resume work on that after this is posted.

Still feeling pretty awful. At east I'm fairly functional, but it's hard to get enthusiastic about anything these days. Summer has gone by in a blur, which is probably a good thing, since (using 100°F days as a standard) this is easily the 4th hottest summer since we moved here in 1999. (Could rank higher if we used 90°F days, or average highs, or average temperature.) Still not done: September usually doesn't cool off much until the last week, and maybe not then. Of course, it's not all weather, and not all pain. At least I have lots to do -- something I have a knack for turning into frustration.

In my article search, I noticed this piece -- Men have fewer friends than ever, and it's harming their health. It doesn't quite describe me, but I've been pretty isolated since the mid-1960s, and most of the time I've gotten by ok, so it's hard to tell. But I can see how isolation has increased -- that was the point of Robert Putnam's 2000 book, Bowling Alone -- and the only mitigating factor I've seen since then has been the rise of virtual friendships through shared interests (probably most of the people I interact with most days).


Everything streamed from Napster (ex Rhapsody), except as noted in brackets following the grade:

  • [cd] based on physical cd
  • [lp] based on physical lp (vinyl)
  • [bc] available at
  • [sp] available at