Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Album Review: Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan- Epistrophy



I deliberately avoided appearances by Bill Frisell at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville last month.  I reasoned that I should focus on showcases by artists I’d never seen.  Even though I’ve heard the guitarist perform seven or eight times, I’m beginning to wonder if my reasoning was faulty.  Epistrophy, a set of astounding duets between Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan recorded at the Village Vanguard, is yet another addition to the already staggering mountain of evidence that Frisell may be the most brilliant musician of our time.  


---
I reviewed Chris Tomlin’s concert at the Sprint Center for The Kansas City Star.

---
I reviewed the Joshua Redman Quartet’s concert at the Folly Theater for Plastic Sax.

---
I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

---
Angry Ethiopian jazz?  Sign me up.  Black Flower’s Future Flora is RIYL Hailu Mergia, trippy jams, Sons of Kemet.

---
Lizzo tries way too hard on Cuz I Love You.  The anonymous production on her ostensible breakout album makes her alacrity even less appealing.  At least I’ll always be able to say “I saw her when.”.

---
The Budos Band pummels a single good idea into the ground on V.  RIYL: Link Wray, repetition, the Ventures.  Here’s “Ghost Talk”.

---
Relentless Doppelganger, a live stream of malevolent bots creating entirely credible death metal, is as impressive as it is terrifying.

(Original image of Bill Frisell, Thomas Morgan and Rudy Royston by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Concert Review: Khatia Buniatishvili at the Folly Theater



I’ve witnessed the cavorting of scantily clad pop stars, the testifying of sweaty soul men and the suggestive voguing of hyper-masculine country crooners in recent months.  None of these performers possessed even half of the charisma exuded by Khatia Buniatishvili at the Folly Theater on Wednesday.  While she and Sony’s marketing department don’t hesitate to capitalize on her looks, the celebrated pianist from Batumi, Georgia, boasts the sort of magnetism that transcends her pleasing visage.  The impeccable playing of Buniatishvili emphasized extreme dynamics in an enchanting program of Shubert.  She ecstatically tossed her hair, waved her arms and contorted her body during her Kansas City debut.  Just how captivating was Buniatishvili?  The majority of the audience of about 750 stuck around for the invariably dull artist interview that follows concerts in the Harriman-Jewell Series.  I’m not the only one who can’t get enough of Buniatishvili.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Album Review: Anderson Paak- Ventura



I don’t entirely trust my enthusiasm for Anderson Paak’s Ventura.  The album is so closely attuned to my sensibilities that I suspect it’s an algorithmic swindle.  Ventura resembles what might happen if the Music Genome Project, the uncannily perceptive program designed by the creators of Pandora Music, was commissioned to create music specifically for me.  The silky throwback soul of songs like “Make It Better” are frighteningly spot-on evocations of my sonic ideal.


---
I contribute weekly concert previews to The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

---
I reviewed a recital by Assif Tsahar and Tatsuya Nakatani at Plastic Sax.

---
Before music streaming services became quick and (nearly) comprehensive, I’d occasionally go on excursions at the Free Music Archive in search of interesting variations on the jam-band sound.  I invariably came up empty.  Imperfection, the new release by the New York power trio Gorgeous!, is the sort of unpolished gem I’d hoped to discover at FMA.  The group sounds like the Jimi Hendrix Experience jamming on contemporary funk.  The album contains about 20 minutes of thrilling grooves.  Unfortunately, Imperfection rambles on for 98 minutes.

---
I wasn’t impressed the two times I witnessed Whitechapel spoon-feed greasy kid stuff to fidgety teenage headbangers.  The convincingly heavy The Valley, however, isn’t generic child’s play.  Here’s “When a Demon Defiles a Witch”.

---
Lage Lund is accompanied by pianist Sullivan Fortner, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Tyshawn Sorey on Terrible Animals.  The auspicious lineup assembled by the guitarist doesn’t disappoint.  RIYL: Mary Halvorson, genius hiding in plain sight, Pat Metheny.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Album Review: Brooks & Dunn- Reboot


A drunk homophobe wanted to fight me because I wore a pink shirt to an Alan Jackson and Brooks & Dunn concert at Verizon Amphitheater in 2007.  I dressed less conspicuously when Brooks & Dunn headlined at the Sprint Center on its 2010 farewell tour.   Honestly, I haven’t given the duo much thought since then.  That’s why I’m astounded by my reaction to the 12 remakes featuring contemporary country stars on Reboot.  Absence definitely made my ears grow fonder.  Although I harbored only a mild affection for the songs when they were originally released, I shout along with Luke Combs on ”Brand New Man” and get weepy as Ashley McBride sings “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone”.  The comeback album is so good that even the interpretation of “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” featuring Midland resembles an unexpected visit from a long-lost friend who doesn't care what I wear.


---
I contribute weekly concert previews to The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

---
I always liked Earl Thomas Conley more than Brooks & Dunn.  Conley died yesterday.  Here’s “Holding Her and Loving You”.

---
I’m still salty about the Dutchman’s listless performance at the Big Ears Festival last month, but the stirring convergence of new age, ambient and classical music on Henosis is precisely what I want from Joep Beving.  Here’s “Unus Mundus”.

---
Anitta’s Kisses contains several stupendous bangers and concludes with a lovely duet with Caetano Veloso.  Aside from Snoop Dogg’s vibe-killing appearance, Kisses is delightful.  RIYL: baila funk, Ariana Grande, sunshine.  Here’s “Banana”.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, April 08, 2019

Concert Review: Durand Jones & the Indications at recordBar


I like alcohol, but I wasn’t drinking.  I like dancing, but there wasn’t room to move.  I like parties, but I felt as if I was crashing a sloppy frat kegger.  And while I possess unconditional love for old-school R&B, I could hardly hear Durand Jones & the Indications over the din of drunken conversations.  Saturday’s sold-out show at RecordBar was an enormous letdown.  Opening band Ginger Root never stood a chance.  A friend tweeted that “I’m not sure I’ll see a better live show in 2019.”  Well, the performance by the soul revivalist band wasn’t even the best concert I attended in the past week.  I rave about a quartet led by Matt Otto at Plastic Sax.  Last night’s appearance by the Norwegian brass band tenThing was also superior.  I posted amusing footage at Instagram.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, April 05, 2019

Album Review: Ex Hex- It's Real


I was a member of the target demographic for the 1980 punksploitation flick “Times Square”.  As a disaffected teen stuck in the boonies and desperate for dispatches from the punk scene in New York City, I enthusiastically acquired the soundtrack and bought a ticket to see the film the week it opened.  This gullible rube was expertly played by a cynical marketing team that made Suzi Quatro’s “Rock Hard” the theme song of the deservedly forgotten movie.  Even though tracks including “Rainbow Shiner” on Ex Hex’s It’s Real are vastly superior to “Rock Hard,” the throwback “new wave” on the album catapults me back to an almost incomprehensibly foreign era.


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

---
Nipsey Hussle was gunned down on March 31.  I don’t share the hip-hop community’s adoration of the rapper.  The memory of his dreary outing at the Granada in 2009 still grates on me.

---
The Chicago house vocalist Kim English has died.  Here’s “Natural High”.

---
David White of Danny and the Juniors, has died.  Here’s “At the Hop”.

---
There have been moments during the last 20 years in which I believed that attending Kansas City’s Rockfest was my sole reason to exist.  I don’t know what to do with myself now that this year’s blowout isn’t happening.

---
Marvin Gaye's You’re the Man, the would-be follow up to What’s Going On, is only half as good as his classic 1971 work.  But man, there are still a dozen spine-tingling moments scattered throughout the newly reassembled version of the nixed project.

---
Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is the love child of Lorde’s Pure Heroine and Taylor Swift’s Reputation.  Post Malone’s Beerbongs & Bentleys served as the midwife.  “Bury a Friend” is the baby picture the proud parents sold to a celebrity tabloid.

---
I paid $14 to hear The Wild Reeds and Valley Queen at RecordBar on Wednesday.  The show was altogether adequate.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Album Review: Coltrane '58: The Prestige Recordings


I devoured all five hours and 38 minutes of Coltrane ‘58: The Prestige Recordings in just two listening sessions this weekend.  After devoting much of March to the avant-garde sounds of today, bingeing on one of the most disruptive artists of 1958 has been as refreshing as chugging cool water on a hot summer day.  Even though I’m familiar with most of the material on the new box set, hearing it presented in chronological order provides fresh perspectives.  I’m particularly struck by my reaction to Red Garland.  The pianist’s combination of intelligence and soulfulness on the earliest dates are awe-inspiring.  Yet Garland’s inability to adjust to Coltrane’s rapid evolution occasionally threatens to send me into a blind rage.  (To be fair, pianists Tommy Flanagan, Elmo Hope and Kenny Drew also had a hard time keeping up.)  I can only imagine Coltrane’s frustration.


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

---
I reviewed Dave Scott’s In Search of Hipness and suggest that Kansas City is the land that time forgot at Plastic Sax.

---
Scott Walker has died.

---
Ranking Roger has died.

---
The lineup of the We Out Here festival in August makes me giddy.  Round-trip flights to London start at $650.  Do I dare pull the trigger?

---
Shafiq Husayn’s The Loop would be a contender for my album of the year if the songs were just a little less loopy.  RIYL: To Pimp a Butterfly, marijuana, There’s a Riot Goin’ On.

---
I’m not laughing at the Faint; I’m laughing with them.  The members of the Omaha band sound as if they’re having a blast crafting variations on decades-old industrial pop and electronic funk on Egowerk.  RIYL: Front Line Assembly, Wax Trax, Front 242.  Here’s “Child Asleep”.

---

(Original image of an old OJC reissue by There Stands the Glass.)