May 2020 Listening

A few people asked: “What are you listening to while sheltering in place?” Here’s my response (in reverse chron). In case you’re wondering, for most selections I’m using an album shuffle program with Volumio. Occasionally I’ll hand pick something. Mostly random. This is the result.

Eve Risser / Benjamin Duboc / Edward Perraud - En Corps: Generation (Dark Tree, 2017)
★★★★ Wonderfully nuanced trio improvisation. Bandcamp

2020 05 23 AM ^

Nils Økland Band - Kjølvatn (ECM, 2016)
Hand-picked for this evening. Hardanger fiddle never sounded better.

As You Hear: Veryan Weston, Pei Ann Yeoh, Beibei Wang - 4 Seasonings, Live in Vortex (Fundacja Sluchaj, 2019)
Very nice live set from The Vortex. Weston (p), Yeoh (vn), and Wang (d, perc). Bandcamp

Marilyn Crispell & Tyshawn Sorey - The Adornment of Time
★★★★ A single, 65-minute live and unprepared improvisation. I am left speechless. Bandcamp

2020 05 22 PM ^

Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge, 2007)
I always forget: is it “Ga Ga Ga Ga”? Or “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga”? Or maybe “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga”?

2020 05 22 AM ^

Steve Lacy - The Wire (Denon, 1977)
★★★★ Steve Lacy lets his hair down with his Japanese band.

Shakti - Shakti with John McLaughlin (Columbia, 1976)
A little unfocused, with exhilarating moments.

Lisbon String Trio with Rodrigo Pinheiro - Rhetorica (Creative Sources, 2019)
A little too rhetorical, but not bad. Bandcamp

Tim Daisy - Streets In Time (Relay, 2012)
Somehow, this album is less than the sum of its parts. With Taylor Ho Bynum (cor), Steve Swell (tb), and John Hebert (b). Bandcamp For a much better recording by Daisy, see Tim Daisy’s Vox 4 - Roman Poems, below.

2020 05 21 PM ^

Atomic - Pet Variations (Odin, 2018)
★★★★ Fredrik Ljungkvist (ts), Magnus Broo (t), Håvard Wiik (p), Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (b) and Hans Hulbækmo (d). Where do I begin? They cover Brian Wilson (of the Beach Boys), Olivier Messiaen, Edgard Varèse, Steve Lacy, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Jimmy Giuffre, Carla Bley, and Jan Garbarek. And how. This is as fine a jazz album as you will find. Bandcamp

Devin Gray - RelativE ResonanceE (Skirl, 2015)
With Chris Speed (ts, cl), Kris Davis (p), Chris Tordini (b). I’ll bet they have fun with Chris, Kris, and Chris in the band. All kidding aside, this is a fucking awesome record. Bandcamp

2020 05 20 PM ^

Elephant9 with Reine Fiske - Silver Mountain (Rune Grammofon, 2015)
So once again this month, my computer program has chosen Elephant9. Can’t complain. Rune Grammofon website

2020 05 20 AM ^

Evan Parker and Paul G. Smyth - Calenture and Light Leaks (Weekertoft, 2019)
★★★★ This is a live recording. Bandcamp

David Bowie - Space Oddity (RCA, 1969)
No commentary required.

Tetterapadequ - Descanso del Dopo Popo (Cylinder, 2016)
Daniele Martini (ts), Giovanni Di Domenico (p), Gonçalo Almeida (b), João Lobo (d). Despite all the talent in this ensemble, these guys can’t seem to get off the ground. It has it’s moments. Bandcamp

Henry Threadgill - Carry the Day (Columbia, 1995)
My favorite mad scientist is at it again… Toot!

VA - Active Crossover (curated by Simon Whetham) (Impulsive Habitat, 2010)
Works by Simon Whetham, John Grzinich, Jez Riley French, Maksim Shentelev, Sound Meccano, Kaspars Kalnins, Toms Siklovs, Gints Birznieks, KIWA, Toomas Thetloff, Shawn Pinchbeck, Merilyn Püss, Piibe Piirma, Jaanika Kakluse, Silver Stairs of Ketchikan / Joined By Wire, Alexander Thomas, Iris Garrelfs, Douglas Benford, created at the Polymer Factory Culturehouse, Tallinn, Estonia. Active Crossover project website

Matt Piet with Paul Giallorenzo - Wood, Wire and Steel (Matt Piet, 2017)
Piano duos by Piet and Giallorenzo. Reportedly Piet refers to this as “pianistic ear candy.” I cannot disagree. Bandcamp

2020 05 19 PM ^

Christopher Dell - Grammar II (Plaist, 2019)
Christopher Dell (vib), Christian Lillinger (d), Jonas Westergaard (b). Sparse and beautiful. Bandcamp

Scratch Orchestra with Brian Eno - Cornelius Cardew’s “The Great Learning” (Cortical Foundation, 2000)
Includes two paragraphs from the 1971 Deutsche Grammophone release, plus a newly-recorded paragraph. Essential. Essential.

Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin - Stoa (ECM 2006)
Anything featuring bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet is gonna get my attention (I love the sound of those gadgets). The setting is fantastic – hypnotic, kaleidoscopic, groovy.

Musica Elettronica Viva - MEV 40 (New World, 2008)
Landmark recordings blah blah great historical importance blah. Sorry, but I’m just not in the mood for this right now. Skipping.

Mischa Mengelberg - Mix (ICP, 1994)
Two live sets for solo improvised piano. Brilliant.

Laurence Boulay / Françoise Lengellé - François Couperin: Concerts Royaux (Erato, 1996)
(Commentary to follow)

2020 05 18 PM ^

Gato Libre - Neko (Libra, 2017)
★★★★ Yasuko Kaneko (tb), Natsuki Tamura (t) and Satoko Fujii (acc).

Steve Lacy & Mal Waldron - Communiqué (Soul Note, 1997)
Aptly named. Very direct.

Limbo Ensemble - Plebiscetu (AudioTong, 2011)
Paulo Chagas (sop cl, f, elec), Karl Waugh (vn), Quincas Moreira and Travis Johnson (clo), Bruno Duplant (b), Massimo Magee (t), Paolo Duarte and Thomas Olsson (g), Fernando Simões (tb, objects). Bandcamp

Jim Black - Somatic (Winter & Winter, 2012)
I prefer the AlasNoAxis configuration but this trio with Thomas Morgan (b) and Elias Stemeseder (p) is pretty solid.

2020 05 17 PM ^

Makaya McCraven - In The Moment (International Anthem, 2015)
If you could only hear two tracks – McCraven on drums and Matt Ulery on bass, that would be awesome in and of itself. The rest is gravy. Bandcamp

2020 05 17 AM ^

Alfred Schnittke - Cello Sonatas (Bis, 2007)
Torleif Thedéen (clo) and Roland Pöntinen (p). An outstanding recording. Compares favorably with the Chandos 1998 recording by Alexander Ivashkin (clo) and Irina Schnittke (p).

Anthony Braxton - Six Monk’s Compositions (1987) (Black Saint, 1987)
★★★★ It takes gumption to cover Monk. Braxton pulls off an entire album with aplomb, making each cut his own. Mal Waldron (p) is perfect for this setting.

Julia Hülsmann - In Full View (ECM, 2013)

Taku Sugimoto - Opposite (hatNOIR, 1998)
Think Morton Feldman on an electric guitar.

Kid Millions & Sarah Bernstein - Broken Fall (577 Records, 2019)
These two go at it pretty hard with good result. If you enjoy Lightning Bolt, give this a spin. Bandcamp

2020 05 16 PM ^

Lina Allemano’s Titanium Riot - Squish It! (LUMO, 2017)
★★★★ Drop what you’re doing and listen to this now. Bandcamp

Arrington de Dionyso - The Lalove of Central Sulawesi (Arrington de Dionyso, 2014)
The one, the only. Accept no imitations. C’mon, throw Arrington a bone.

Sylvie Courvoisier - Abaton (ECM, 2003)
With Mark Feldman (vn) and Erik Friedlander (clo). A two-disc set, the first disc consisting of compositions, the second of improvisations. I prefer the second disc, though the first is quite good. ECM website

2020 05 16 AM ^

Muhal Richard Abrams - Song For All (Black Saint, 1997)
“Over the Same Over” is a high point of the album.

Bad Luck - Four (Origin, 2016)
Imagine Food (the band) of the Pacific Northwest. Sax & drums duo. Debo made me take it off (I think that was unwarranted.) Bandcamp

Buffalo Collision - Duck (Screwgun, 2009)
Ethan Iverson (p), Tim Berne (as), Hank Roberts (clo), and Dave King (d). Two-thirds of the overrated Bad Plus join Berne and Roberts and level up their game. Specimen

2020 05 15 PM ^

Jenny Hval - The Long Sleep (Sacred Bones, 2018)
Hval backed by a solid jazz ensemble – but dreamy (as the title might suggest). Bandcamp

2020 05 15 AM ^

Susanna Wallumrød - Garden of Earthly Delights (SusannaSonata, 2019)
I just can’t get into it. Sounds like a demo rather than a finished album. Artist site

Tim Daisy’s Vox 4 - Roman Poems (Relay, 2019)
This is a remarkable live performance at the Elastic Arts Foundation in Chicago with James Falzone (cl), Fred Lonberg-Holm (clo), Macie Stewart (vn, p), Tim Daisy (d, perc). Dedicated to Pier Paolo Pasolini. Bandcamp

Yak - Alas Salvation (Octopus Electrical, 2016)
I love my Yak raw.

Mary Lou Williams - 1927-1940 (Chronological Classics, 1996)
The high points are the solo pieces or those with light accompaniment.

John Tilbury, Keith Rowe & Kjell Bjørgeengen - Sissel (SOFA, 2018)
Even prettier. Squidco

Jo David Meyer Lysne & Mats Eilertsen - Kroksjø (Hubro, 2020)
I was prepared to be bored, but this is really very pretty. Bandcamp

2020 05 14 PM ^

Ingrid Jensen - At Sea (ArtistShare, 2006)
Jensen plays beautifully, but this album is a bit over-composed and would have benefitted from a little more freedom.

Matmos - Ultimate Care II (Thrill Jockey, 2016)
I love these guys. An entire album composed only of sounds sampled from a Whirlpool Ultimate Care II washing machine. Don’t let that fool you into thinking this is something esoteric. No, it’s fun, infectious and almost danceable. Bandcamp

John Tchicai - Tribal Ghost (NoBusiness, 2013)
Tchicai with Charlie Kohlhase (as, ts, bs), Garrison Fewell (g), Cecil McBee (b) and Billy Hart (d). Possibly Tchicai’s best album. Unfortunately his last. Bandcamp

Past Present with Andrew D’Angelo - Short Pieces ( Hevhetia, 2018)
D’Angelo plays with a wide vibrato reminiscent of Albert Ayler. The compositions are short meditations on simple themes. Halvorson provides a nice counterpoint to D’Angelo. (If you like this, check out Human Feel.) Andrew D’Angelo (as), Simen Kiil Halvorsen (tp), Alexander Hoholm (b), Jim Black (dr), Pete Rende (p), Elias Stemeseder (p).

Adam Fairhall - The Spirit Farm (SLAM, 2012)
This shows some promise but it never quite coalesces. Use of toy piano and glockenspiel and other little plinky-plunky sounds gets a little too cute at times.

Butthole Surfers - Hairway to Steven (Touch and Go, 1988)
No! Yes! No! Yes! Yes!

Szilárd Mezei - C (Odradek, 2013)
Not his best, but it has its moments. Live recording in what sounds like a warehouse. Bandcamp

Craig Taborn - Light Made Lighter (Thirsty Ear, 2001)
I liked Junk Magic better (though most critics didn’t). Whatever. A good record.

2020 05 13 AM ^

Schnell (Borel, Borghini, Lillinger) - Live at Sowieso (Clean Feed, 2017)
Aptly-named, frenetically-paced Be-Bop for modern living. Clean Feed website

Megumi Yonezawa / Masa Kamaguchi / Ken Kobayashi - Boundary (ESP-Disk, 2018)
Jazz piano trio with distinctive texture and suprises. Forced Exposure

Muhal Richard Abrams - Blu, Blu, Blu (Black Saint, 1991)
Perhaps my favorite Abrams album. Full of life.

From Wolves to Whales - Dead Leaves Drop (Dropa Disc, 2019)
★★★★ Nate Wooley (t), Dave Rempis (ts), Pascal Niggenkemper (b) and Chris Corsano (d). Relentlessly inventive free jazz. An exhausting, cathartic listen. Bandcamp

Django Bates - Summer Fruits (and Unrest) (JMT, 1993)
A fun record, but occasionally over-cooked and showy.

Matt Mitchell - Fiction (Pi Recordings, 2013)
★★★★ Breathtaking duets with Ches Smith. Absolutely brilliant. Bandcamp

2020 05 12 PM ^

John Scofield - A Go Go (Verve, 1998)
Scofield’s first collaboration with Medeski, Martin & Wood. Some reviewers came down a little hard on this one. I disagree. This is a damn good record.

2020 05 12 AM ^

James Emery - Fourth World (Between the Lines, 2002)
Emery (g) with Joe Lovano (ts, as, cl, d), Judi Silvano (f, v), and Drew Gress (b). Not Emery’s best, but very good nonetheless. An easy-going, genial affair. Lovano spends as much time on percussion as he does on sax!

Nick Millevoi’s Desertion Trio with Jamie Saft - Midtown Tilt (Clean Feed, 2018)
What shitty music would sound like if it were good. Bandcamp

Oliver Lake and William Parker - To Roy (Intakt, 2015)
Duos in memory of Roy Campbell. Bandcamp

The End - Svårmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen (RareNoiseRecords, 2018)
Google Translate tells me this means “difficulty and grief are worthless.” Sofia Jernberg, Mats Gustafsson, Kjetil Møster, Anders Hana, Greg Saunier. Listen and lose your hair. Bandcamp

Les Rhinocéros - Les Rhinocéros (Tzadik 2011)
Needed to perk things up around here after the previous drone-fest. From D.C. no less. Tzadik website

VA - The Tone of the Universe = The Tone of the Earth (PseudoArcana, 2005)
Featuring Blithe Sons, Peter Wright, Keijo, Vibracathedral Orchestra, Birchville Cat Motel, 1/3 Octave Band, and My Cat is an Alien. It’s okay. Bandcamp

Norbert Rodenkirchen / Robbie Lee / James Ilgenfritz - Opalescence (Telegraph Harp, 2018)
Norbert Rodenkirchen on medieval flutes by Giovanni Tardino, baroque flute, Beaudin modern traverso and piccolo; Robbie Lee on contrabass recorder, chalumeau, gemshorn, sopranino saxophone, Beaudin and medieval flutes, glissando Kingma-system quarter-tone flute, Kotato F flute; and James Ilgenfritz on double bass. A disappointment, since the best moments are breathtaking, but much of the album devolves into noodling. Maybe I’ll give it another try later; not sure I grokked. Bandcamp

2020 05 11 PM ^

Keith Tippett - Mujician I and II (FMP, 1998)
Haven’t listened to this for years. My reaction this time is the same as the first time. Wow! (Debo asked: “How can he play like that and not have his hands fall off?” My reply: “I have no idea.”) Bandcamp

Satoko Fujii - Kitsune-Bi (Tzadik, 1999)
Perhaps the best recording in her large and formidable discography. Solo, duo and trio pieces with Sachi Hayasaka (ss), Mark Dresser (b, and in top form), and Jim Black (d). Jaw dropping.

Sean Conly - Re:Action (Clean Feed, 2008)
An outstanding debut for Conly (b) as a leader, with Pheeroan akLaff (d), Tony Malaby (ts), and Michaël Attias (as). Clean Feed website

2020 05 10 PM ^

Zach Rowden, Jarrett Gilgore & Ian McColm - First Lapse (Raw Tonk, 2019)
A little pick-me-up after playing the Egli. Good energy. Gilgore’s tone sets him quite apart – sonically – from Rowden and McHolm, which affords him considerable mobility. Bandcamp

Florian Egli - Orientation (Intakt, 2018)
Billed as Florian Egli’s “Weird Beard”. Pleasant, if occasionally a little too restrained. Bandcamp

Paula Shocron / Germán Lamonega / Pablo Diaz - Tensegridad (Hatology, 2017)
Paula’s got her shit together. Superb jazz piano trio from Argentina. Dusted review

2020 05 10 AM ^

Hedvig Mollestad - All Them Witches (Rune Grammofon, 2013)
Awesome Norwegian power trio. Bandcamp

Jon Appleton - The Scarlatti Doubles / The Couperin Doubles (Phoenicia, 2015)
Beautiful retellings of works by Scarlatti and Couperin by my professor and good friend, Jon Appleton. Phoenicia website

Darius Jones - Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) (AUM Fidelity, 2009)
Jones’ debut as a leader. Fine, soulful, bluesy, plaintif wailing. Cooper-Moore on piano and diddley-bo, Rakalam Bob Moses on drums. Bandcamp

Zwitschermachine - System for Us (WhyPlayJazz?, 2019)
Advertised as krautrock, psychedelic, ambient, groove and post-M-Base flavored jazz. As advertised. Sort of. Bandcamp

2020 05 09 PM ^

Jacobus Barbireau - Missa Virgo Parens Christi / Kyrie Paschale (Gaudeamus, 2010)
The Clerks’ Group dir. Edward Wickham. Franco-Flemish Renaissance music for a spring morning!

2020 05 09 AM ^

Charles Ives - Symphony № 3 (Decca, 1987)
I’d say something like “Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields under Neville Marriner giving a beautiful performance of a beautiful piece” but honestly this is the only recording of this piece that I’ve ever heard. Wonderful, regardless.

Mikrokolektyw - Absent Minded (Delmark, 2013)
A kind of two-man Polish Supersilent making fascinating little jazz noises. Delmark website

Les Fées du Rhin - Passages (Sans Bruit, 2008)
Erdmann (ts), Duboc (b), Paganotti (d). Free Jazz review (stef)

Exploding Star Orchestra - Stars Have Shapes (Delmark, 2010)
Rob Mazurek leads, with Nicole Mitchell (fl), Matt Bauder (cl, ts), Jason Stein (bcl), Greg Ward (as), Jeb Bishop (tb), Jason Adasiewicz (vb), Josh Abrams (b) and a full complement of percussion. Nice segue in from Innercity Ensemble and of similar ilk. Delmark website

Innercity Ensemble - II (Instant Classic, 2014)
Imagine the lovechild of Tarantel and Mogwai. On entheogens. Bandcamp

2020 05 08 PM ^

Richard Wagner - Parsifal (Philips, 1964; remastered 2001)
Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, Hans Hotter, Gustav Neidlinger, Irene Dalis, Jess Thomas, Martti Talvela, George London. Played while taking final examination in topology.

Big Bold Back Bone - Emerge (Wide Ear, 2018)

Brian Eno - Ambient 4: On Land (EG, 1982)
Still the gold standard of ambient.

2020 05 08 AM ^

Shibusashirazu - Shibu Hata (Chitei Records, 2002)
High-quality batshit jazz(-klezmer-funk-ska) insanity.

Elephant9 - Psychedelic Backfire II (Rune Grammofon, 2019)
One of two live sets under this title, recorded in 2019. Psychedelic Backfire II opens with an unorthodox “cover” (permutation of? variation on?) of Stevie Wonder’s You Are the Sunshine of My Life. An outstanding set. Rune Grammofon website

UMO Jazz Orchestra - The Sky Is Ruby (TUM, 2006)
What is, essentially, the national jazz orchestra of Finland, with guests Juhani Aaltonen (ts), Raoul Björkenheim (g), and Iro Haarla (p, hp), performing compositions by Björkenheim. Aaltonen sounds vital at 71. Björkenheim blisses out without overpowering. Haarla is wonderful (as always). Very good.

Zhirtz N Zkinz - Zhirtz N Zkinz (Zhirtz N Zkinz, 2012)
High-energy blowing. Broad palette. Where have these guys been hiding? Bandcamp

Thad Jones / Mel Lewis - Consummation (Blue Note, 1970)
Great, big, swinging band. Very hip. Groovy, even.

2020 05 07 PM ^

Lisa Cameron / Sandy Ewen - See Creatures (Astral Spirits, 2015)
A most satisfactory nautical-themed audio artifact, produced in Austin, TX of all places. Ahoy! Bandcamp

2020 05 07 AM ^

London Experimental Ensemble - Orbit (Ed Pettersen, 2020)
A live performance by the LEE using video of the Earth taken from the ISS during one orbit as the visual score. Put on the headphones, close your eyes, and vanish to an infinitesimal, Plank-length whisp of quantum foam. Iklectik website

Nacka Forum - Fee Fi Fo Rum (Moserobie, 2012)
Fun, outstanding jazz. With Jonas Kulhammar (ts), Goran Kajfeš (t), Johan Berthling (b), and Kjell Nordeson (d) how can you go wrong? Kicker: Reine Fiske (g) guests on two tracks. Jonas seems to be going out of the way to make this disk hard to find. I ordered it from him at his home in Sweden. :/

Greg Foat - The Mage (Athens of the North, 2019)
Seems like it shouldn’t work, but it does. Charming, folksy jazz. Bandcamp

2020 05 06 PM ^

Wynton Kelly - Kelly Blue (Riverside, 1959)

Quantum Trio - Gravity (For Tune, 2015)
Debut from a Polish trio. Not unpleasant, but unexceptional and occasionally dull. Bandcamp

Verneri Pohjola - Bullhorn (Edition Records, 2015)
Competent. Pohjola (t) has a somewhat raspy tone throughout. Bandcamp

2020 05 06 AM ^

Christian Wallumrød - Many (Hubro, 2019)
A strange and occasionally compelling listen, but the moments are too few and and far between for sustained interest. For fans of atmospheric post-folk on methaqualone. Hubro website

Eric Revis - In Memory of Things Yet Seen (Clean Feed, 2014)
Superb. Just what you’d expect from Revis. With Chad Taylor (d), Bill McHenry (ts) and Darius Jones (as). Good stuff. Clean Feed website

Timuçin Şahin - Inherence (Between the Lines, 2013)
Amazing band: Tyshawn Sorey (d), Ralph Alessi (t), John O’Gallagher (ts) and Christopher Tordini (b). To be sure, Şahin can play the guitar, but this album is a bit of an overreach. Busy. Otherwise solid. Jazz Messengers

Marc Ducret - News From the Front (JMT, 1992)
With Herb Robertson (flhn, t), Yves Robert (tb) and François Verly (d). Just bristling with coolness.

The Clean - Getaway (Matador, 2001)
Fun, but spread a little thin over two discs. Fans of Yo La Tengo take note.

2020 05 05 PM ^

Kit Downes - Obsidian (ECM, 2018)
Downes on organ, with Tom Challenger on sax. Ethereal improvisations. Sublime. ECM website

Caroline Davis - Alula (Caroline Davis, 2019)
Trio with Matt Mitchell (ky) and Greg Saunier (d; of Deerhoof). Astonishing. Bandcamp

Damaztra - Flag of Time (ILK Music, 2017)
Danish trumpet, bass, drum trio with Marilyn Mazur. Meget fint.

Taylor Deupree - Faint (12k, 2012)
Effective, dreamy ambient.

2020 05 05 AM ^

☆☆☆☆☆ Suitable for Superbowl half-time entertainment.
☆☆☆☆ A waste of one’s ears. Avoid.
★★☆☆☆ Good for one listen. Others may enjoy without derision.
★★★☆☆ A keeper.
★★★★ Delicious, gobsmacking goodness.
★★★★ Essential listening. Superb.
★★★★★ Listening to this may be a life-changing event. Be prepared.

Other symbols:
Certain folks in UT, MD, and FL may wish to take note.