Thursday, August 17, 2017

Throw Your Hands in the Air

Before I could even consider pouting because I was working an Idina Menzel concert rather than a nearby outing by Kendrick Lamar last night, I began receiving a series of unsolicited texts about the poor quality of the consequential artist’s show from outraged friends.  While undiscerning status-conscious Stans might rightfully point out that I wasn’t on hand to bear witness to the greatness of Kung Fu Kenny on Wednesday, the judgements of my like-minded pals affirms what remains painfully obvious: live performances by hip-hop/rap stars (including the two times I’ve seen Lamar) are invariably disappointing.  There are exceptions- Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, the Roots and (sometimes) Tech N9ne come to mind- but too often the quality of hip-hop/rap shows is inversely proportional to the monumental vitality of even the most essential recordings.


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I reviewed Green Day’s concert for The Kansas City Star on Friday.

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I reviewed a concert by Logic and Joey Badass for The Kansas City Star on Saturday.

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I reviewed “An Evening With George Gershwin” at MTH Theater on Sunday.

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I reviewed Idina Menzel’s concert at Starlight Theatre on Wednesday.

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I featured Soul Revival on my weekly KCUR segment.

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Me and my big mouth: I inadvertently stirred up race-related trouble in Kansas City.  My mea culpa is posted at Plastic Sax.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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Aesop Rock’s instrumental score for Bushwick is dandy.  RIYL: Isaac Hayes, tension, Hans Zimmer.

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Single Mothers’ Our Pleasure is RIYL F*cked Up, extremely irritating vocalists, Titus Andronicus.

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Reactionary condemnations of the latest disruptive sound are always a bad look.  Unlike some of my peers, I endorse Lil Peep’s controversial Come Over When You’re Sober.  The successful merger of the aesthetics of Kurt Cobain and Lil Uzi Vert seems like a license to print money.  Here’s ”Brightside”.

(Original image of Joey Badass at his wickity-wickity-wack performance on Saturday by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

You Run Your Mouth, I'll Run My Business


My obsessive-compulsive tendencies compel me to think twice before queuing up compilations of irreproachable music by the likes of the Carter Family, Coleman Hawkins, Billie Holiday or Django Reinhardt.  Their timeless works tend to send me down unproductive rabbit holes.  It was with great reluctance, consequently, that I played the first of 136 tracks on the new Louis Armstrong collection The Complete Decca Singles 1935-1946.  I was out of commission for the next six hours and 38 minutes.  Oh, but what glorious waste of time!  Armstrong was such a genius that his interpretations of extremely problematic material, culturally insensitive compositions and pure drek are just as compelling as his classic works.  And when it comes to Armstrong, too much isn’t enough.


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I reviewed a concert by RL Grime, What So Not, Graves and Longer Days at the Midland theater for The Kansas City Star.

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I reviewed a concert by Primus and Clutch for The Kansas City Star.

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I reviewed a concert by the Harlem Quartet at Plastic Sax.

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I featured Bloodstone in my weekly segment on KCUR.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I don’t think any album in my old man’s regular rotation annoyed me more than Glen Campbell’s 1969 release Live.  It opens with a over-the-top medley.  The second track is a corny rendition of “White Lightning.”  My whiskey-drinking dad would mimic the vocal effects.  I never got past it.

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Barbara Cook has died.

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DL Menard has died.

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Howard Husock, the father of Eli “Paperboy” Reed, has written a fascinating account of his fleeting relationship with the late blues man Fred Davis.  The Kansas City native was killed in Cleveland in 1988.

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I admire all of the genre-shattering impulses displayed on Paul Jones’ Clean.  His version of jazz is RIYL Philip Glass, chamber music, David Binney.

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Tyler Childers’ Purgatory doesn’t contain a single original idea.  I like it anyway.  RIYL: the young Steve Earle, “real” country, Turnpike Troubadours.  Here’s ”Whitehouse Road”.

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I’m annoyed (and a bit embarrassed) that I immediately fell for Forq’s new album Thrēq.  The quartet melds the most appealing (and dorky) elements of prog-rock and jazz fusion.  RIYL: Brand X, imaginary soundtracks, Bob James.

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Damn hippies!  Power of Peace, a collaboration between Carlos Santana and the Isley Brothers, is far out.

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Hey, John Scofield is pretty good.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Album Review: Shabazz Palaces- Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star and Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines

The overwhelming onslaught of alarming events has compelled many of my friends to embrace intoxicants with renewed fervor.  Even though I’m often tempted to turn to the bottle for deliberative escapism, I’ve found that a pair of gauzy new albums by Shabazz Palaces are capable of transporting me to an alternate reality that allows me to unwind, toy with astral projection and regain a semblance of composure.  I prefer Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines to Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star, but both releases possess some of the most appealing aspects of Sly and the Family Stone, Sun Ra, Future and Linton Kwesi Johnson.


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I hailed Kendrick Lamar in advance of his return to the Sprint Center.

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I featured Mac Lethal in my weekly KCUR segment.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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Guitarist Chuck Loeb has died.  He was a leading figure in the final wave of commercially viable and artistically compelling crossover jazz.

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Jan Fichman of 7th Heaven makes a cameo in the video for Rich the Factor and the Popper’s ”Aristocrat”.

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The Kansas City pianist Mark Lowrey oversees an disarming arrangement of Soundgarden’s “Fell On Black Days.”

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Trevor Lawrence Jr.’s Relationships is RIYL Quincy Jones, the intersection of jazz and R&B, the Brothers Johnson.

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Algorhythms turned me on to Matt Cappy’s debut release Church and State.  The jazz-based album by the Philadelphia trumpeter includes an Afro-beat selection and an interpretation of “Nessun Dorma.”

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Arcade Fire’s Everything Now is RIYL Abba, preciousness, Destroyer.

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Numero Group will release a Jackie Shane compilation in October.

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The 2017 Living Blues Awards indicate that the blues clearly isn’t alright.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Concert Review: Warped Tour 2017


A handful of battle-scarred musicians who appeared on the Hard Rock stage at Warped Tour precluded me from being the oldest person at Providence Medical Center Amphitheater on Thursday.  I was attracted to my peers the same way pasty teens were drawn to the white rappers on the bill.

I gladly paid $50 (and an additional $10 to park) to catch the old-school punk bands Adolescents, Sick of It All and T.S.O.L.  Everything else I took in was merely sweat-soaked gravy.

The New York punk veterans Sick of It All were in fighting form.  In spite of their age, they looked like potential victors in a literal battle-of-the-bands.  The California punk oddballs Adolescents (pictured), however, didn’t look so good.  Fortunately, powerful renditions of old classics like “Word Attack” belied their down-on-their-luck countenances.

Wearing a pink suit and deep tan, Jack Grisham of T.S.O.L. expressed frustration that only a few dozen people elected to hear his band’s set.  He mocked know-nothing hoodrats who claimed to advocate anarchy by boasting that his subversive activities had inspired “an F.B.I. file before your parents were born.”

The best of the rest:

  • The Virginia thrash band Municipal Waste was simultaneously hilarious and terrifying as it performed “I Want to Kill the President” and “The Thrashin’ of Christ.”
  • A guitarist from War on Women joined the female punk quartet Bad Cop/Bad Cop for a rendition of “Victoria,” a song about an abuse-inspired suicide.
  • Barb Wire Dolls successfully revived the trash-rock associated with the likes of L.A. Guns and Poison. Only about 100 people bothered to bear witness.
  • The varying crowd sizes that serve as a ruthless barometer of popularity are one of my favorite components of Warped Tour.  Thursday’s most savage sign of the times transpired when 100 rockers banged their heads to Valient Thorr as more than 750 annoyed hip-hop fans impatiently waited for Watsky’s set to begin at an adjacent stage.


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I reviewed Echo & the Bunnymen and Violent Femmes at Crossroads KC.

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The Passion of Charlie Parker isn’t going to be popular in Kansas City.  I  reviewed the all-star album that doesn’t go easy on Cowtown at Plastic Sax.  David Baerwald of David & David, the project’s lyricist, left an apology in the comment section at my other music blog.

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I previewed the Flyover fest for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I featured the Kansas City vocalist Millie Edwards on KCUR this week.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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Chester Bennington of Linkin Park has died.  I last saw him perform at the VooDoo in 2014 when he was filling in for Scott Weiland as the vocalist of Stone Temple Pilots.

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Nicole Atkins has a fine voice.  Yet the elaborate production of Goodnight Rhonda Lee requires a singer with a magnificent voice.  Atkins has a hard time breaking through the retro clutter.  (I reserve the right to be wrong- this album could be a grower.)  RIYL: Dusty Springfield, 1963, Dionne Warwick.  Here’s ”Darkness Falls So Quiet”.

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Terrace Martin Presents the Pollyseeds: Sounds of Crenshaw, Vol. 1 sounds like a potential album-of-the-year candidate in any given moment, but it quickly becomes monotonous.  Here’s ”Intentions”.

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Another John Coltrane tribute album?  Yes, but it’s amazing.  I highly recommend Denys Baptiste’s The Late Trane.

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I can almost smell the distinct funk of New Orleans when I listen to With You In Mind, Stanton Moore’s wondrous tribute to Allen Toussaint.  RIYL: Maceo Parker, worthy tributes, Nicholas Payton.

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I’ll always make time for Sara Evans.  Words is RIYL Patty Loveless, diminishing returns, Lorrie Morgan. “Marquee Sign” is the album’s worst song.

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Charles Lloyd’s late-career renaissance continues with the live recording Passin’ Through.  RIYL: John Coltrane, horrid album art, Joe Lovano.

(Original image of Adolescents by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Big Reveal


I sat down with Aaron Rhodes of Shuttlecock Music Magazine to discuss a few of my favorite things.

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I reviewed a concert by Blondie, Garbage and the duo of Exene Cervenka and John Doe on Tuesday. 

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I discussed Jake Wells and Mike Dillon on KCUR.

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My most recent weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star are here and here.

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Field Day Fest shook my confidence on Friday. Even though the event received plenty of advance publicity (including a glowing piece I wrote for Ink magazine and The Kansas City Star), the turnout was woeful. I often felt as if I was the only person in attendance who had actually paid the full $15 cover.

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I marked a personal milestone at Plastic Sax.

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Fresh Kid Ice of 2 Live Crew has died. I last saw him perform at the misguided Zombie Pub Crawl in 2014 in the former grocery space to the north of the Uptown Theater.

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The stunning visual component of Juanes’ Mis Planes Son Amarte isn't necessary to appreciate the immediately ingratiating pop album.

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Contemporary doom metal goes corporate on Pallbearer’s Heartless. RIYL: Boston, colorless vocals, Rush. Here’s ”Thorns”.

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George Colligan’s session with Linda Oh, Rudy Royston and Nicole Glover on More Powerful veers between cocktail jazz and skronk.

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Every member of my compound is down with Sudan Archives’ self-titled release on Stones Throw Records. That almost never happens. RIYL: Sampha, something for everyone, Amber Coffman.

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Pharoah Sanders plays on three tracks of bassist Charnett Moffett’s often wonderful Music From Our Soul. RIYL: Jamaaladeen Tacuma, electric jams, Victor Wooten.

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I dig Cody Jinks’ cover of Pink Floyd’s ”Wish You Were Here”.

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I’m charmed by Big Boi’s wildly erratic Boomiverse. RIYL: Outkast, sweating, UGK. Here’s ”In the South”.

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Sevyn Streeter’s startlingly lurid Girl Disrupted is RIYL Brandy, underdogs, Janet Jackson. Here’s ”Before I Do”.

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Based on the melodic pop sensibility of Tenere, I sense that Afous D’Afous is fully capable of taking the place of 311 on the American summer festival circuit. RIYL: Bombino, dancing, Tinariwen. (Tip via Big Steve.)

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Deep Cover


There’s a right way and a wrong way to make an album of cover songs.  Nikka Costa takes the proper approach on the stellar Nikka & Strings: Underneath and In Between.  The unconventional arrangements and unusual instrumentation demonstrate Costa’s healthy irreverence on selections like Prince’s ”Nothing Compares 2 U”.  Her leisurely version of  “Stormy Weather” makes a case for Costa as Etta James’ most worthy heir.  Conversely, Douyé’s impeccably tasteful interpretations of standards like “In a Sentimental Mood” on Daddy Said So are infuriatingly stale.  The inability of elite jazz musicians like Kenny Barron, Ron Carter and Jeremy Pelt to lift the project out of the doldrums makes the effort even more frustrating.  The reactionary conservatism of Daddy Said So sounds like the supper club of my nightmares.


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I reviewed a concert by Iron Maiden and Ghost on Tuesday.

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I reviewed Monday’s outing by DJ Shadow at the Madrid Theatre.

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OneRepublic’s concert at the Sprint Center on Friday was one of my favorite shows of 2017.  No joke.  I reviewed the concert for The Kansas City Star.

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I discussed the Kansas City jazz fusion musician Blair Bryant on KCUR last week.  I inflicted Mike Dillon on listeners of the NPR affiliate earlier today.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I consider Steve Lambert’s new album Seven Stories at Plastic Sax.

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Lord have mercy.  Pokey Bear’s ”Can’t Be Faithful” is a strong contender for my favorite song of 2017.

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21 Savage’s Issa is so bad that it's good. "FaceTime" is among the tracks that are both brilliantly awful and awfully brilliant.

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I love everything about Riverside’s The New National Anthem.  The project overseen by trumpeter Dave Douglas is RIYL Carla Bley, brilliant fun, Old and New Dreams.

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Shredders, a reshuffling of the Doomtree crew, is invigorating.  RIYL: P.O.S, feeling Minnesota, Sims.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Album Review: Rich the Factor- 1,000 (Keep It Ten Hunnid)


As millions of Jay-Z fans parsed 4:44 over the weekend, heedful Kansas Citians studied Rich the Factor’s latest missive.  1,000 (Keep It Ten Hunnid) is another essential document of Kansas City’s criminal underworld.  The album validates the assertions I made in an extensive examination of Rich published by KCUR last year.  The title track includes a statement of purpose: “Rich, why you rap about the drug life? I’m like Pac when he rapped about thug life.”  He notes that “I handle business on the late night and keep my grass cut low for the snake bites” on “Late Night.”  The production continues to reference ‘80s and ‘90s R&B.  “On the Grit” samples the 1990 hit After 7 “Ready or Not,” a sentiment that reflects Rich’s unrepentant grind.


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I reviewed Bruce Hornsby’s appearance at Knuckleheads last Thursday.

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I accorded the Philistines my KCUR Band of the Week designation.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I consider reactions to the American Jazz Museum’s negative publicity at Plastic Sax.

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Pianist Geri Allen has died.  Perfection, her collaboration with David Murray and Terri Lyne Carrington, was my #9 album of 2016.

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A perplexing eight-minute documentary on the creation of Bargou ‘08’s wonderful Targ in Algeria raises more questions than it answers.

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I embrace the glorious pop of Calvin Harris’s Funk Wav Bounces without reservation or irony.  RIYL: Pharrell Williams, 2017, Future.

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Aruan Ortiz’s solo piano album Cub(an)ism is astounding.  RIYL: Cecil Taylor, truly new sounds, Gonzalo Rubalcaba.

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May the Purple Rain never stop falling.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)