Monday, May 22, 2017

Jimmy LaFave, 1955-2017




When I began attending SXSW more than 25 years ago, the event was a business conference that doubled as a showcase for locally based musicians.  Performances by the hometown hero Jimmy LaFave were among the most anticipated components of those early years.  Even though his popularity failed to keep up with the staggering growth of SXSW, LaFave remained faithful to the rootsy sound that once made him the toast of the Texas town. Nora Guthrie’s introduction of LaFave at the Folk Alliance International conference on February 18 was was warm and effusive.  Even though I wasn’t aware that he’d been diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer, I was moved by an intimate performance that included one or two of his signature Bob Dylan covers.  LaFave died last week.


---
I reviewed a concert by the Black Angels and A Place to Bury Strangers.

---
I reviewed outings by Railroad Earth, the Yonder Mountain String Band, Fruition and the Shook Twins at the Bluegrass in the Bottoms festival.  I also wrote a preview of the two-day event.

---
I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

---
Julian Vaughn was the recipient of my most recent KCUR Band of the Week designation.

---
I appraise Norman Brown’s new album Let It Go at Plastic Sax.

---
Chris Cornell has died.  He looked and sounded great when I saw him with Soundgarden eight days ago.

---
I cued up Diana Krall’s Turn Up the Quiet out of professional obligation.  Boy, was I surprised!  The hushed collection of standards is easily my favorite release by the Canadian.  RIYL: Julie London, makeout music, June Christy.  Here’s ”Moonglow”.

---
I’m embarrassingly easy.  Add horns and a semblance of swing to almost anything and I’m in.  I adore the new sound Pokey LaFarge unveils on Manic Revelations.  Here’s ”Riot In the Streets”.

---
Julian Lage, Brad Mehldau, Larry Grenadier and Eric Harland support saxophonist Dayna Stephens on the predictably wonderful Gratitude.

---
I keep listening to Mary J. Blige’s Strength of a Woman in fruitless attempts to convince myself that it’s not a bitterly disappointing mess.  ”Love Yourself” typifies the miscalculations.

---
Wavves continues to outshine its peers with the remarkable You’re Welcome.  RIYL: Green Day, crying on the beach, Brian Wilson.  Here’s ”Million Enemies”.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Album Review: The Mavericks- Brand New Day








Regrets, I’ve had a few thousand.  Like Frank Sinatra, I did it my way.  It hasn’t always been easy.  I was reminded of one missed opportunity while listening to the Mavericks’ new release Brand New Day.

An unsolicited CD by the then-unknown Miami based band crossed crossed my desk when I was the sales manager of a beleaguered music distribution company in 1990.  Even though I loved the music, I had to pass.  As a one-off, unproven project in the pre-internet era, I knew that timely payment to the band for shipped units would be impossible.

Having recognized the music’s potential, however, I should have offered to assist the Mavericks in a different capacity.  I would have loved to have been a part of selling and promoting What a Crying Shame, Music for All Occasions and Trampoline, three of my favorite albums of the 1990s.

The band was marketed as a country act at its commercial peak, but Brand New Day continues the band’s drift into an alternate universe in which Roy Orbison, Johnny Otis, Pérez Prado and Phil Spector are in the same band. It’s gloriously preposterous.  Here’s the title track.


---
I reviewed the sixth of Garth Brooks’ seven sold-out concerts at the Sprint Center.

---
I reviewed a concert by Soundgarden and the Dillinger Escape Plan on Sunday.

---
I honored Ensemble Ibérica with the KCUR’s Band of the Week designation.

---
I didn’t attempt to hide my inner fanboy in my extended concert preview of Chance the Rapper’s return to Kansas City.

---
I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

---
I extol Bobby Watson’s Made in America at Plastic Sax.

---
Bruce Hampton has died.  I first heard the jam band pioneer perform at a festival in a field outside of Lawrence, Kansas, in the early 1990s.

---
Patti LaBelle performs a Broadway-style version of jazz on her florid new album Bel Hommage.  It’s hammy, cheesy and entirely delicious- and I love it.  LaBelle pitched the project on QVC.

---
The combination of Avishai Cohen, Manfred Eicher and Nasheet Waits lights up several of my pleasure centers.

---
Smino’s invigorating Blkswn is recommended if you like Chance the Rapper, St. Louis, Frank Ocean.  Here’s ”Anita”.

---
Trombone Shorty courts the mainstream on Parking Lot Symphony. RIYL: Allen Toussaint, artists with staying power, Fred Wesley.

---
Sarah Shook & the Disarmers’ Sidelong doesn’t quite do it for me.  Even so, I hope to catch the group in 2017. RIYL: Grisly Hand, boozin’, Bottle Rockets. Here’s ”Dwight Yoakam”.

---
Don Bryant’s Don’t Give Up On Love is an unexpected treat.  RIYL: Otis Clay, soul survivors, Syl Johnson.  Here’s ”How Do I Get There?”.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Más Música



I went to Mexico with the intention of rejuvenating my mind and resting my ears.  It didn’t work out.  I spent my evenings at a beach festival that showcased the folkloric music and dance styles of Latin America.  I caught dozens of amazing performances by ensembles from Chile, Argentina, Guatemala, Costa Rica and various Mexican states while sipping on dollar beers.  The rest of the music I heard was involuntarily imposed on me.  The hits that blasted in almost every public space drove me to distraction.  I must have heard Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito,” Juan Gabriel’s “Queiro,” the Eagles’ “Hotel California,” Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” and Toto’s “Africa” a dozen times apiece.  Por qué?


---
I spent the last three nights at Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest.  I reviewed a concert by De La Soul, Talib Kweli, Ro Ransom, Stik Figa and the Indyground crew on Saturday.  I admired Jason Isbell and Strand of Oaks on Friday.  I critiqued Erica Joy, the Uncouth, 34 and Jaenki on Thursday.

---
I examined the 1975 in a preview of the band’s concert at Starlight Theatre.

---
I praised Ibérica, the beguiling new album by Matt Otto and Ensemble Ibérica, at Plastic Sax.

---
I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Desiccated


Do I look tired to you?   I feel compelled to leave a few notes in this space before I embark on a recuperative respite south of the border.


---
I reviewed a concert by Dan + Shay for The Kansas City Star on Friday.

---
I attended concerts by Bill Frisell and Jack DeJohnette on Saturday.  My impressions are published at Plastic Sax.

---
I reviewed Quality Hill Playhouse’s production of “As Time Goes By” on Sunday.

---
Look for new rounds of my weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine here.

---
Hyborian’s Vol. 1 is my favorite Kansas City metal album in recent memory.

---
Spoek Mathambo’s Mzansi Beat Code is allegedly only 58 minutes long.  I don’t believe it.  Brimming with hundreds of fresh ideas, the project feels as if it lasts several hours. Albums don’t often stump me, but I’m overwhelmed by Mzansi Beat Code.

---
I don’t appreciate Joey Bada$$’s insurrectionary Land of the Free nearly as much as a few of my pals.  RIYL: Noam Chomsky, A$AP Rocky, Amy Goodman.

---
I’ve been waiting for pianist Christian Sands to make an album as solid as Reach.  RIYL: Christian McBride, promise realized, Gerald Clayton.

---
Rhymesayers uploaded footage of a 2007 Atmosphere concert at First Avenue.  Here’s  ”God Loves Ugly”.  As longtime readers of There Stands the Glass know, I can’t get enough of that stuff.

---
Damn gets better with each listen.  If you’re not already on board, the video for ”DNA” is a good entry point.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Concert Review: Salif Keita at Town Hall

I was disappointed when I checked the live music listings after I snagged a cheap flight to New York City.  No Henry Threadgill.  No Cecil Taylor.  Not even Wadada Leo Smith would be playing while I’d be in town.

During my previous trip to New York City, I heard Joyce DiDonato light up Carnegie Hall (my review) and sat a few feet from Dave Douglas, Lee Konitz, Matt Mitchell, Linda Oh and Ches Smith at the Jazz Standard (my review). While I experienced nothing quite as momentous on my visit earlier this month, I didn’t go wanting.

I heard the artist known as the Golden Voice of Africa perform for hundreds of Malians in a historic venue built by suffragettes.  It was a quintessential New York City experience.  I uploaded a snippet to Instagram.  Super-fan Banning Eyre reviewed the concert for Afropop Worldwide.


---
I reviewed a concert by In This Moment, Motionless In White, Avatar and Gemini Syndrome for
The Kansas City Star.

---
I wrote an extended concert preview about Mastodon for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

---
My weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine are here and here.

---
I named Alicia Solo KCUR’s Band of the Week.

---
I laud Kansas City’s new lounge band Agora at Plastic Sax.

---
Allan Holdsworth has died.  Feels Good To Me might be the last prog/fusion album I enjoyed before the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and the Clash changed my outlook.

---
Orchestra Baobab’s Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng is the leading candidate to be my all-purpose album of the summer. My next-door neighbors have already heard it twice as I’ve worked in my driveway.  RIYL: life, Buena Vista Social Club, love.  Here’s ”Foulo”.  (Tip via Big Steve.)

---
Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng is light and breezy, but Vieux Farka Touré‘s Samba is loud and brassy.  RIYL: 1970s’s-era Carlos Santana, dancing, Ali Farka Touré.  Here’s ”Homafu Wawa”.

---
Damn isn’t To Pimp a Butterfly or Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.  So what?  It’s still essential.  Kendrick Lamar remains the #rapmessiah.  Here’s ”DNA”.

---
I’ve always loved Decoy.  Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah successfully updates the 1980s sound of Miles Davis on Ruler Rebel.

---
Rodney Crowell’s Close Ties is a mishmash of great and cringe-worthy- songs.  ”Nashville 1972” is both.

---
Howard Shore’s Two Concerti, ably played by Lang Lang, is a noble failure.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Concert Review: Chris Brown at the Sprint Center


Chris Brown is still a jerk.  I was considering rejoining #teambreezy when I purchased a $30 cheap seat for the infamous star’s return to the Sprint Center on Tuesday.  My potential change of heart was completely thwarted three hours later when the spectacle concluded with a series of resounding explosions.  With no corresponding visual effects, the gratuitous blasts seemed specifically intended to damage the eardrums of fans.

On stage about an hour, Brown sparingly doled out his brilliant talent.  Even so, he remains equal parts Michael Jackson and Rick James.

An elaborate production that incorporated a few of the most appealing elements of the recent stage shows of Drake and Kanye West made me feel as if my $30 ticket was a bargain.  I just wish I’d left five minutes before the show ended.

Aaron Randle reviewed the concert for The Kansas City Star.


---
I wrote an extended concert preview about John Mayer for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

---
I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

---
I named Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle KCUR’s Band of the Week.

---
John Geils Jr. has died.  I sold and marketed Geils’ solo blues projects in the 1990s.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Concert Review: Lawrence Brownlee and Eric Owens at the Folly Theater


Lawrence Brownlee’s powerful singing and enthralling emoting impressed me as I sat in the rear balcony of Carnegie Hall two years ago.  When I discovered that I could secure front row seats for my cousin’s April 6 show at the Folly Theater at an 80% discount, I jumped at the deal offered by the Harriman-Jewell series.  I was rewarded for my nominal investment with my favorite show of 2017 to date.  Yet it was Brownlee’s fellow opera star Eric Owens who I most appreciated during the program of arias, Great American Songbook tunes and gospel selections.  Less flashy but more stirring than Brownlee, Owens reduced me to tears as he delivered “Give Me Jesus.”  Jovial duets on uptempo selections like the ridiculous “Dolores” caused my face to ache from smiling so strenuously.  Libby Hanssen reviewed the concert for The Kansas City Star.


---
I reviewed Kris Kristofferson’s return to the Uptown Theater for The Kansas City Star.

---
I reviewed Judah & the Lion’s concert at the Uptown Theater for The Kansas City Star.

---
I wrote extended concert previews about Radiohead and Chris Brown for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

---
My latest rounds of weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine are here and here.

---
I recently designated Second Hand King and Katy Guillen & the Girls KCUR’s Band of the Week.

---
Donny McCaslin floored me at the Folly Theater on Friday.  My notes are at Plastic Sax.

---
I did some work with Lonnie Brooks in the 1990s.  The Chicago blues artist was a warm, generous man.  Brooks died last week.

---
Until I read his obituaries, I didn’t know that Arthur Blythe was married to the one-time Kansas City based vocalist and actress Queen Bey.

---
“I took my roof off at the red light!”  I’m not too proud to admit that I can’t get enough of Rick Ross’ noxious Rather You Than Me.  Here’s ”Trap Trap Trap”.

---
I ordinarily don’t have much patience for newly recorded mainstream jazz albums.  Heads of State’s All in One is an exception.  The septuagenarian saxophonist Gary Bartz is in top form.

---
Raekwon’s The Wild may be the strongest album by a Wu-Tang Clan member other than Ghostface of the last five years.  Here’s ”This Is What It Comes To”.

---
F*cked Up’s “Year of the Snake” has restored my faith in 23-minute songs.  RIYL: MC5, kicking out the jams, Dwarves.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)