Saturday, December 09, 2017

Sit Down. Be Humble. The Top Albums, Songs and Concerts of 2017


The Top 50 Albums of 2017
1. Kendrick Lamar- Damn
2. Vince Staples- Big Fish Theory
3. Big K.R.I.T.- 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time
4. Lee Ann Womack- The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone
5. Miguel Zenón- Típico
6. Tarkovsky Quartet- Nuit Blanche
7. Matt Otto and Ensemble Ibérica- Ibérica
8. Brockhampton- Saturation II
9. Lorde- Melodrama
10. Bobby Watson- Made In America

11. Víkingur Ólafsson- Philip Glass: Piano Works
12. Carlos Vives- Vives
13. Future- Hndrxx
14. Orchestra Baobab- Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng
15. 2 Chainz- Pretty Girls Like Trap Music
16. Aruan Ortiz- Cub(an)ism
17. Tinariwen- Elwan
18. JD McPherson- Undivided Heart & Soul
19. Yelena Eckemoff- Blooming Tall Phlox
20. Gorillaz- Humanz

21. King Krule- The Ooz
22. Rob Luft- Riser
23. Brother Ali- All the Beauty In This Whole Life
24. Wavves- You’re Welcome
25. Migos- Culture
26. Syd- Fin
27. Jonas Kaufmann- L’Opéra
28. Future- Future
29. Sunny Sweeney- Trophy
30. Uniform- Wake In Fright

31. Tyler, the Creator- Flower Boy
32. Rudresh Mahanthappa and the Indo-Pak Coalition- Agrima
33. Miguel- War & Leisure
34. CyHi the Prince- No Dope On Sundays
35. Brockhampton- Saturation
36. Spoek Mathambo- Mzansi Beat Code
37. Thundercat- Drunk
38. Juana Molina- Halo
39. Samantha Fish- Chills & Fever
40. Omar Souleyman- To Syria, With Love

41. Shabazz Palaces- Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines
42. Future and Young Thug- Super Slimey
43. St. Vincent- Masseduction
44. Taylor Swift- Reputation
45. Rich the Factor- El Factor
46. Willie Nelson- God’s Problem Child
47. Avishai Cohen- Cross My Palm With Silver
48. Lil Uzi Vert- Luv Is Rage 2
49. Juanes- Mis Planes Son Amarte
50. Jay-Z- 4:44


The Top 50 Songs of 2017
(Spotify playlist)
1. Brother Ali- “Own Light (What Hearts Are For)”
2. Kendrick Lamar- “Humble”
3. Lil Uzi Vert- “XO Tour Lif3”
4. Calvin Harris featuring Frank Ocean and Migos- “Slide”
5. Valerie June- “Astral Plane”
6. Vince Staples- “Yeah Right”
7. Lorde- “Liability”
8. Sunny Sweeney- “Bottle by My Bed”
9. Young Fathers- “Only God Knows”
10. Future- “Mask Off”

11. Craig Finn- “God in Chicago”
12. Ibibio Sound Machine- “Give Me a Reason”
13. Fat Joe and Remy Ma- “Spaghetti”
14. Alejandro Fernandez- “Agridulce”
15. Rick Ross featuring Young Thug- “Trap Trap Trap”
16. José James- “To Be With You”
17. Brockhampton- “Junky”
18. LCD Soundsystem- “Emotional Haircut”
19. Mark Eitzel- “The Last Ten Years”
20. Isaac Cates & Ordained- “Hold On”

21. Cardi B- “Bodak Yellow”
22. Eli Young Band- “Skin & Bones”
23. Marvin Sapp- “Close”
24. Stik Figa- “Cold”
25. Sam Smith- “Pray”
26. Alan Jackson- “The Older I Get”
27. Princess Nokia- “Tomboy”
28. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit- “Hope the High Road”
29. Hermon Mehari featuring Kevin Johnson- “Cold”
30. Adriel Favela- “Me Llamo Juan”

31. The Roots featuring Bilal- “It Ain’t Fair”
32. Kodak Black featuring Xxxtentasion- “Roll in Peace”
33. Bruno Major- “On Our Own”
34. Future and Young Thug- “Feed Me Dope”
35. Pokey Bear- “I Can’t Be Faithful”
36. Carlos Vives- “Al Filo de Tu Amor”
37. Migos- “T-Shirt”
38. Rich the Factor- “Luther”
39. Queens of the Stone Age- “Un-Reborn Again”
40. Jonwayne- “These Words Are Everything”

41. A Boogie Wit da Hoodie- featuring Kodak Black “Drowning”
42. Bonobo featuring Rhye- “Break Apart”
43. Chronixx- “Majesty”
44. Pokey LaFarge- “Riot In the Streets”
45. Karriem Riggins with Jessica Care Moore- “Suite Poetry”
46. Pistol Pete- “2bad2good”
47. Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee- “Despacito”
48. Deborah Brown- “Ask Me Now”
49. Rodney Crowell- “It Ain’t Over Yet”
50. J Balvin- “Mi Gente”


The Top 50 Concerts of 2017
1. Lawrence Brownlee and Eric Owens- Folly Theater
2. Salif Keita- Town Hall (New York City)
3. Donny McCaslin Trio- Folly Theater
4. Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band- Gem Theater
5. Arcade Fire- Silverstein Eye Centers Arena
6. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit- Uptown Theater
7. Marilyn Maye- Quality Hill Playhouse
8. Fantasia- Sprint Center
9. Municipal Waste- Providence Medical Center Amphitheater (Warped Tour)
10. Eddie Palmieri- Blue Note (New York City)

11. Garth Brooks- Sprint Center
12. A Place to Bury Strangers- Madrid Theatre
13. Danilo Pérez’s “Jazz 100”- Yardley Hall
14. Thundercat- Granada
15. The Lyric Opera’s “Eugene Onegin”- Muriel Kauffman Theatre
16. Jack DeJohnette Trio- Gem Theater
17. Clutch- Uptown Theater
18. Halestorm- Kansas Speedway (Rockfest)
19. Alaturka- Polsky Theatre
20. Patti LaBelle- Muriel Kauffman Theatre

21. Lecrae- The Truman
22. Motionless in White- Midland theater
23. Sheer Mag- Kaiju (Louisville)
24. DJ Shadow- Madrid Theatre
25. Willie Nelson- Starlight Theatre
26. Aaron Neville and Michael Goods- City Winery (New York City)
27. Lou Donaldson- Tompkins Square Park (New York City)
28. Tech N9ne- Midland theater
29. Rich the Factor- 7th Heaven
30. Xenia Rubinos- RecordBar

31. Queens of the Stone Age- Crossroads KC
32. Marco Antonio Solís- Sprint Center
33. Gerald Spaits’ Sax and Violins- Westport Coffeehouse
34. Hudson- Yardley Hall
35. St. Vincent- Uptown Theater
36. Matt Otto Trio with Anthony Wilson and Shay Estes- Blue Room
37. Ramsey Lewis- Gem Theater
38. Raipillan- Festival Vallarta Azteca del Folclor Internacional (Puerto Vallarta)
39. Chris Brown- Sprint Center
40. Greg Tardy Trio- Blue Room

41. Flying Lotus- Midland theater
42. Janet Jackson- Sprint Center
43. Nick Lowe with Los Straightjackets- Knuckleheads
44. The Lyric Opera’s “Everest”- Muriel Kauffman Theatre
45. Lage Lund with the Albert Marques Trio- Cornelia Street Cafe (New York City)
46. PussyVision- Davey’s
47. Pure Disgust- Encore Room
48. Katy Guillen & the Girls- Boulevardia festival
49. Jimmy LaFave- Folk Alliance Conference
50. Soundgarden- Starlight Theatre

(Original image of Lage Lund by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Don’t You Wonder Sometimes About Sound and Vision

My eyes and ears played tricks on me yesterday.  The day of disorientation began when I encountered a gif that prompts an auditory hallucination.  My lunch break was stranger still.  I’ve mocked Taylor Swift’s irritating artifice for years, yet I quickly succumbed to the tactical pop brilliance of her chart-topping Reputation during the noon hour.  I surrender!

I was torn between concurrent concerts by Kodak Black at the Midland theater and the Wood Brothers at the Truman as darkness fell and a bitter wind beset Kansas City.  There are few things I love more than attending shows by artists at their artistic and commercial peak.  I suspect that’s the case with the young rapper behind the momentous “No Flockin’”.  Yet I went with the Wood Brothers, in part because I heard John Medeski- Chris Wood’s bandmate in Medeski Martin & Wood- perform with Hudson in October (my review).

The stab at symmetry failed.  Even though I admired the Wood Brothers’ effort and approach, the trio left me cold.  I felt as if the audience of about 600 was listening to an outstanding backing band akin to Booker T. and the M.G.s or the E Street Band riffing while waiting in vain for Otis Redding or Bruce Springsteen to show up.  David Bowie rescued me on the drive home.  “Sound and Vision” popped up soon after I hit shuffle on a 16-hour playlist of my favorite songs.  At the end of an unsettling day, I needed his admonition to appreciate the resplendent “gift of sound and vision.”


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I revealed my favorite jazz albums and jazz performances of 2017 at Plastic Sax.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star.

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Björk’s Utopia resembles the soundtrack to a fully immersive experience at Disneyland in the year 2033.

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Aida Cuevas’ Arrieros Somos: Sesiones Acusticas is charming.  RIYL: Juan Gabriel, corridos, Yolanda Del Rio.

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A concert featuring Ron Miles and Bill Frisell almost put me to sleep in April.  Miles’ I Am a Man, an album that features Frisell, Thomas Morgan and Brian Blade, is entirely invigorating.

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Even when paired with magnificent talent, noble intentions don’t necessarily make for good music.  Mavis Staples’ cloying If All I Was Was Black is RIYL Sweet Honey in the Rock, resistance, Curtis Mayfield.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Jock Jams


I dedicated much of a recent vacation in Portland to watching men’s college basketball games at the Moda Center.  Teams representing Duke, Michigan State, North Carolina and Gonzaga were among the elite squads competing in the PK80 tournament.  Attending 12 games in three days became a tedious chore, but the soundtrack in the arena was far from tiresome.  Customary jock jams by the likes of Gary Glitter, Bon Jovi and C+C Music Factory weren’t aired.  Instead, crowds were treated to a vibrant playlist of hip-hop and rap hits that included Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble,” Kanye West’s “Power,” Post Malone’s “Rockstar” and Diddy’s “Watcha Gon’ Do.”  Seeing thousands of seated sports fans and a handful of players warming up on the court chanting “percocet, molly, percocet” in unison to Future’s “Mask Off” was one of the most surreal moments I’ve experienced in 2017.


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I wrote a profile of Edison Lights’ Chris Doolittle for KCUR.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I named Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear the KCUR Band of the Week.

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I reviewed the Matt Cook Collective’s Along Those Lines at Plastic Sax.

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Jon Hendricks has died.

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Tommy Keene has died.

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Wayne Cochran has died.

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Jim Nabors has died.

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I felt as if I was trapped in an episode of Portlandia when I caught a set by The Minders at Turn! Turn! Turn! in Rip City last week. 

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CyHi the Prynce’s No Dope On Sundays is a minor masterpiece.  RIYL: Pusha T, the dirty South, Big K.R.I.T.  Here’s “God Bless Your Heart”.

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Björn Meyer’s Provenance is RIYL Steve Tibbets, meditation, Terje Rypdal.

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I love Lizz Wright.  I loathe her new album.  Grace is RIYL Ruthie Foster, naps, Shawn Colvin.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Della Reese, 1931-2017


I marveled at the tart voices of Patti LaBelle and Fantasia on consecutive evenings in March.  Unconventional stylists with piercing voices who value expressiveness more than pretty notes, LaBelle and Fantasia work in the tradition of offbeat R&B shouters like Della Reese and Dinah Washington.  Here’s Reese’s show-stopping reading of “Lonelyville” in the 1958 flick Let’s Rock.  Reese died on November 19.


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I reviewed St. Vincent’s concert at the Uptown Theater.

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I reviewed the Kansas City debut of Flying Lotus for Plastic Sax.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I featured TJ Hooker-Taylor in my weekly KCUR segment.

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I hope you enjoy using the Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

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Malcolm Young has died.  I’m so glad that I was able to see him with AC/DC one last time in 2009.

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The country star Mel Tillis has died.

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Jazz drummer Ben Riley has died.

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The former teen idol David Cassidy has died.

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The music industry titan George Avakian has died.

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Banda Magda’s upcoming dates with Snarky Puppy should help the international fusion band secure a much larger audience in North America.  Tigre is RIYL Dengue Fever, futuristic cocktail lounge music, Pink Martini.  Here’s “Le Tigre Malin”.

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Maciej Obara Quartet’s Unloved is RIYL: Euro jazz, Tomasz Stanko, contemplating loss.

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Lettuce’s Witches Stew, a faithful recreation of tracks from Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and In a Silent Way, is as pointless as it is impressive.

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Talk about Russian meddling- I’ve become obsessed with the Tarkovsky Quartet’s Nuit Blanche.  The latest release by the chamber quartet named for the Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky is RIYL despair, Jóhann Jóhannsson, contemplating death.

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Sometimes, you really can judge an album by its cover.  Star vocalist Cecilia Bartoli and cellist Sol Gabetta collaborate on festive baroque music on Dolce Duello.  (I don't like it.)

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Sharon Jones’ swan song Soul of a Woman is wonderful.

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I was certain that I would embrace Anouar Brahem’s Blue Maqams.  After all, the imaginative oud player is supported by pianist Django Bates, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette.  Alas, I’m nonplussed.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Album Review: Carlos Vives- Vives


The early darkness imposed by last week’s time change and the predominantly gloomy weather in Kansas City have threatened to turn me blue.  Yet I don’t need a mood therapy light when I have Vives.  The sunny music on Carlos Vives’ tenth studio album plays like a greatest hits collection.  Each of its perfectly constructed 18 tracks is irresistible.  It’s no accident that the colorful video for “La Bicicleta”, the Columbian’s lustrous Latin pop duet with Shakira, has been viewed more than a billion times.  The corny video for “Al Filo de Tu Amor”, one of my favorite tracks, has a measly 41 million views.  The therapeutic sonic sunshine of Vives has rescued me.


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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I featured Stevie Stone on my weekly KCUR segment.

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I bought a $35 ticket to sit in the upper balcony of Muriel Kauffman Theatre to see the Lyric Opera’s production of Joby Talbot's “Everest” last night.  The vertical stage set was reminiscent of the innovative production for Kanye West’s Yeezus tour.  And “Everest” sounded more like “Tommy” than “Turandot.”  So why was I one of the youngest people in the half-full room?

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My review of the Victor Wooten Trio’s appearance at the Madrid Theatre is at Plastic Sax.

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Lil Peep has died.

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Guitarist Dan Devine, a new addition to the Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band, completely changes the dynamic of  the ensemble on the slightly disappointing Body and Shadow.  RIYL: early Pat Metheny, placidity, Ralph Towner.

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Syleena Johnson, the daughter of Syl Johnson, spelled “rehash” wrong in the title of her unnecessary Rebirth of Soul album.  RIYL: Ruth Brown, the good ol’ days, Solomon Burke.  Here’s “Make Me Yours”.

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Yaeji’s self-titled EP is worlds of fun. RIYL: chillout rooms, The XX, alcohol.  Here’s ”Guap”.

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God bless Protomartyr.  I love the vibe of Relatives in Descent even though the songwriting is suspect.  RIYL: the Fall, inebriation, the Hold Steady.  “Don’t Go To Anacita” is the best song.

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ECM Records’ new pact with streaming services makes me feel as if I received an unexpected check in the mail.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, November 10, 2017

I Spit My Heart Out, Looking Out For My Best Interests


The king is dead.  Long live the kings.

Following last night’s slightly disappointing concert by Tyler, the Creator, I’m officially switching my primary deviant hip-hop allegiance to Brockhampton.  Tyler behaved like a semi-responsible adult at the Truman.  That’s not what I want from the disruptive artist I fell hard for in 2011. 

Brockhampton is right on time.  ”Junky” is among the thrillingly subversive anthems on the mind-boggling Saturation 2.  (Saturation, the first album the Texas collective issued in 2017, isn’t quite as transcendent.)

The so-called boy band is loaded with transgressive young talent.  I fully expect two or three of its members to become mainstream stars who will inevitably disappoint me a few years from now.  Until then, the thrill isn’t gone.


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I reviewed Tyler, the Creator’s concert at the Truman for The Kansas City Star.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I named Katy Guillen & the Girls the KCUR Band of the Week.

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Blaque Dynamite’s Killing Bugs is an insanely dense experimental funk album.  RIYL: Flying Lotus, the low end, Thundercat.

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Jerry Granelli’s Dance Hall is like Hudson 2.0.  Veteran jazz cats- in this case a group that includes drummer Granelli, guitarists Robben Ford and Bill Frisell- cover classic rock, blues, jazz and R&B staples by the likes of Bob Dylan, Charles Mingus and Fats Domino.  It’s redundant fun.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, November 06, 2017

Concert Review: Take Me to the River at the Folly Theater


A concert starring the veteran soul and blues men William Bell, Charlie Musselwhite and Bobby Rush was undercut by tedious speechifying and a galling parade of lesser talent at the Folly Theater on Friday.

Apparently intended as an old-school soul revue with an educational component, Take Me to the River was a well-intentioned but woefully misguided presentation that often resembled a patronizing infomercial designed to appeal to PBS viewers who favor Celtic dance specials.  For dedicated roots music aficionados, the show was excruciatingly frustrating.

Despite the presence of organist Charles Hodges and bassist Leroy Hodges- members of the storied Hi Records rhythm section- the first 45 minutes of the show were forgettable.  The Memphis rapper Al Kapone was the only featured entertainer in the opening segment who wasn’t appallingly mediocre.

Each of the three stars was allotted about 15 to 20 minutes.  Even without the dancers that help make his lascivious concerts memorable, Rush, 83, was an astounding force of nature.  Musselwhite affirmed that he’s the greatest living blues harp player.  Bell- the reason I bought $35 rear balcony tickets to the show (I’d never seen him)- looked and sounded half his 78 years.  His set included “I Forgot to Be Your Lover,” but not “Born Under a Bad Sign” or “Private Number.”

Organizers probably hoped that members of the audience of about 700 rushed home to watch the Take Me to the River documentary on Netflix.  That’s the last thing I’ll do after enduring the poorly conceived and extremely disappointing show.  Instead, I’ll begin making plans to catch a proper performance by Bell in 2018.


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I reviewed Marilyn Maye’s return to Quality Hill Playhouse on Sunday.

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Honestly isn’t the album I wanted or expected from Lalah Hathaway.  The glitchy beats and her astounding voice make for an odd pairing, but I suspect I’ll come to embrace the surprising sound.  RIYL: Robert Glasper, legacies, Kelela.  The politically charged video for the title track doesn’t make much sense.

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Enjoying Sam Smith’s The Thrill of It All is a lot like tearing up during sentimental television commercials.  I confess to committing both transgressions in recent days.  RIYL: Dusty Springfield, pablum, Adele.  Here’s ”Pray”.

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I didn’t expect to appreciate Fever Ray’s Plunge, but the album is even more preposterously affected than I anticipated.  RIYL: nails on chalkboards, Björk knockoffs, playing yourself.  Here’s “Mustn’t Hurry”.

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Vincent Herring’s Hard Times is the all-too-rare jazz album that’s capable of connecting with listeners who embrace both Cannonball Adderley and Donny Hathaway.  I’d love to catch this band- saxophonist Herring, pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Carl Allen- playing these songs in a crowded club on a Saturday night.

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In theory, Mostly Other People Do the Killing is one of my favorite bands.  The reality is far different.  Loafer’s Hollow, the brainy ensemble’s latest effort, is an attempt to bring avant-garde concepts to trad jazz.  It should be thrilling.  Instead, it’s merely irritating.

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Guitarist Rez Abassi is joined by saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, pianist Vijay Iyer,  bassist Johannes Weidenmueller and drummer Dan Weiss on Unfiltered Universe.  RIYL: John McLaughlin, geniuses, Weather Report.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

No Future


Anyone who has listened to Future more than me in recent months probably has a nasty codeine habit.  The Atlanta artist has overwhelmed his admirers with an avalanche of high-quality, opiate-laced music in 2017.  My addiction is problematic.  As a guy who recently reminded readers of his affinity for overtly Christian rappers, it’s a blessing that I don’t always comprehend Future’s lyrics.  Even so, mesmerizing tracks like ”Feed Me Dope” from Future’s new collaboration with Young Thug match my current mindset.  The audaciously synthetic sound will almost certainly sound hopelessly dated in a year or two, but at this moment, I’m a hopeless fiend for Future.


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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I named the MGDs the KCUR Band of the Week.

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I put Changing the Tune: The Kansas City Women’s Jazz Festival, 1978-1985 into context at Plastic Sax.

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Muhal Richard Abrams has died.  I’m horrified that I never heard the jazz giant perform.  I need to get serious about checking the likes of Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill and James “Blood” Ulmer off my bucket list.

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L’Orange’s The Ordinary Man packs 16 tracks into 39 minutes.  The ratio doesn’t make for a fluid listening experience.  Each track ends just as the groove begins to sink in.  RIYL: spoken word samples, 9th Wonder, short attention spans.

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I’m predictably elated by Kanye West’s verse on CyHi’s “Dat Side”.

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I overlooked Move Upstairs, the wondrous new album by the Como Mamas, when it was released several months ago.  RIYL: Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens, salvation, the Staple Sisters.  Here’s “Count Your Blessings”.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Concert Review: Nick Lowe at Knuckleheads


I had no intention of attending Nick Lowe’s concert at Knuckleheads when I woke up last Wednesday.  My itch for nostalgia had been thoroughly sated at the previous week’s Janet Jackson’s concert.  My life partner wasn’t having it.  In an uncommon role reversal, she dragged me to see the Jesus of Cool.  The opening salvo of “So It Goes,” “Ragin' Eyes” and “Without Love” compelled us to shimmy in front of the stage like it was 1987.  The masked surf-rock ensemble Los Straitjackets, Lowe’s backing band, struck the proper balance between reverence and relevance.  I’m pleased as punch that the bride still rock-and-rolls.


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The production at Arcade Fire’s appearance in Independence was the most impressive display I’ve encountered since Kanye West’s Yeezus tour touched down at the Sprint Center in 2013.  Here’s my review for The Kansas City Star.

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George Young, a genuine rock Zelig, has died.  Many of his obituaries fail to mention his role in Flash and the Pan’s forgotten 1976 hit “Hey, St. Peter”.

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Chuck Blackwell, the Tulsa based drummer who performed with the likes of Leon Russell and Joe Cocker, has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

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Martin Ain of Celtic Frost has died.

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I prefer Lee Ann Womack’s throwback country on The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone to Margo Price’s more progressive All American Made.  Unconcerned with- and probably indifferent to- the current climate, Womack evokes dusty albums by the likes of Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton and Glen Campbell.  Price sounds as if she’s consciously competing with Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton.  Here are Womack’s “Sunday” and Price’s “Weakness”.

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Big K.R.I.T.’s 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time recalls the era in which the Dirty South ruled hip-hop.  RIYL: T.I. country, Killer Mike.  Here’s “Keep the Devil Off”.

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The rough-and-tumble blues-rock set by Cinderella’s Tom Keifer at Rockfest was one of the year’s most pleasant surprises.  Although The Way Life Goes is substantially cleaner than the show in June, it still impresses me.  Here’s the representative “The Way Life Goes”.

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Kim Wilson’s Blues and Boogie is wild-eyed barroom blues.  RIYL: James Cotton, carousing, Little Walter.

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Not surprisingly, I’m smitten by Agrima, the new album by Rudresh Mahanthappa and the Indo-Pak Coalition.

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I had a violently allergic reaction to Live in Montreal, a duet album by Edgar Castaneda and Hiromi.  RIYL: leaf blowers, Friday Night in San Francisco, ostentatiousness.

(Original image of Nick Lowe by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fats Domino, 1928-2017


I’ll share an extremely unflattering anecdote as I note the passing of Fats Domino.  I sat next to the noted New Orleans based music journalist Jeff Hannusch, the author of I Hear You Knockin: The Sound of New Orleans Rhythm and Blues, on a bus during a music industry convention in the 1990s.  When the conversation inevitably turned to Domino, I told Jeff that I regretted my recent purchase of the icon’s four-CD, 100-song box set that includes his expansive liner notes.  I explained that the single disc compilation I already owned was more than enough Fats for any reasonable person.  I think Jeff might have quit talking to me.  Not only was I a jerk, I was wrong.  There could never be enough of the Fat Man’s seminal American music.


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I’ve partnered with the Green Lady Lounge to revive The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I named Freight Train Rabbit Killer KCUR’s Band of the Week.

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My review of a performance by the Owen/Cox Dance Group and the People’s Liberation Big Band at Polsky Theatre is at Plastic Sax.

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Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s The Emancipation Procrastination may be the best of the three albums the polarizing jazz artist has issued in 2017.

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I’ve long been enamored of Chanté Moore.  The Rise of the Phoenix is a delight.  Here’s ”Something to Remember”.

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I lost my taste for Magnetic Fields somewhere along the way.  I’m sure I’d admire a handful of songs on 50 Song Memoir, but I’m not willing to invest the time to find them.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Besieged Rhythm Nation


Curious pacing and lousy sound didn’t prevent me from thoroughly enjoying Janet Jackson’s appearance at the Sprint Center on Thursday.  Frontloaded with most of her biggest hits, the concert often resembled a low-budget 1980s music video.

I was unable to ascertain if Jackson’s singing was canned, partly because most of the rhapsodic women who surrounded me in the cheap seats were superior vocalists.  And that was the point of the concert- the real action took place in the stands, where thousands of my valiantly optimistic comrades continued to embrace the tragically neglected message of Jackson’s 1989 hit:

With music by our side to break the color lines
Let's work together to improve our way of life
Join voices in protest to social injustice...
We are a part of the rhythm nation.

It may not have been the show I wanted, but it was the show I needed.  Here’s Tim Finn’s review.


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I reviewed Queens of the Stone Age’s concert at Crossroads KC for The Kansas City Star.

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My review of Hudson’s concert at Yardley Hall is at Plastic Sax.

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I named Roman Numerals KCUR’s Band of the Week.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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Sign of the times: I listened to Memento Mori, the impressive new album by the Kansas City rapper Aaron Alexander, before I auditioned the Tech N9ne album that was also released last week.  RIYL: J. Cole, potential, Schoolboy Q.  Here’s ”Faces”.

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I’m not credited on the compelling piece, but my enthusiastic tip resulted in KCUR’s Story of the Song segment about Isaac Cates and Ordained’s rendition of “Hold On (Just a Little While Longer).”

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I hear St. Vincent’s Masseduction as an Adrian Belew-era King Crimson album.  Here’s ”Los Ageless”.

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If Raymond Scott, Fats Waller and Frank Zappa collaborated on a Brazilian jazz album in a celestial afterlife, their collusion might sound something like Hermeto Pascoal’s kooky No Mudo dos Sons.

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Miley Cyrus has a magnificent voice and a free spirit.  I won’t be surprised if her name eventually appears on one of my year-end album lists.  Moments of Younger Now floor me, but most of the good ideas aren’t fully realized.  RIYL: K.D. Lang, nice tries, Chris Isaak.  ”Week Without You” is the album’s best song.

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Led Zeppelin’s legacy is enhanced by the high quality of each new solo endeavor by Robert Plant.  Carry Fire is RIYL John Renbourn, aging gracefully, Fairport Convention.  Here’s “The May Queen”.

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Marquise Knox’s live Black and Blue is a fine modern blues album.

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King Krule prattles like a dazed combination of Linton Kwesi Johnson, Allen Ginsberg and John Cooper Clarke on The Ooz.  (That’s a compliment.)  RIYL: sizzurp, DJ Screw, quaaludes.  ”Half Man Half Shark” may be the album’s least interesting song.

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Oh snap!  Every line of Alan Jackson’s new single ”The Older I Get” rings devastatingly true.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Kansas City Conundrum


I’ve taken a beating in 2017.  Locally based rock musicians, rappers and jazz artists outraged by my criticism have repeatedly lashed out at me.  That’s fair.  If I dish it out, I have to be willing to endure the consequences.  Partly because I’m the only critic in Kansas City who regularly writes candid reviews of the albums and performances of area musicians, my opinions are often met with howls of shocked indignation.

I do it because I care.

Unlike peers who coddle the musicians who are their friends and neighbors, I gauge music by a single standard.  Using different metrics for locally based musicians would be disrespectful and condescending.  Yet I can’t cite a recent instance of another local observer who has publicly applied a censorious analysis to the music of a Kansas City artist.

Not only does unrelentingly breathless praise quickly become meaningless, the lack of objectivity has dire consequences.   When almost all of the coverage in an artist’s home market consists solely of rave reviews, there’s less incentive for improvement.

Aside from the rapper Tech N9ne, the blues-rock artist Samantha Fish, the pop-oriented Kawehi and the classical ensembles the Kansas City Chorale and the Kansas City Symphony, no locally based act has achieved a substantial national following during the last ten years.  A handful of other artists have had minor hits and/or prestigious label deals, but precious few are presently capable of attracting audiences of 250 or more in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles or New York.

There’s a direct correlation between the dearth of frank criticism and the scarcity of Kansas City artists successfully competing at the national level.  I hope to see more truth-telling and less cheerleading in 2018.  Until then, I’ll resign myself to being perceived as a lone villain.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Concert Review: Lecrae at the Truman


Lecrae isn’t my favorite Christian rapper.  That’d be Kanye West.  Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper are right behind him on my list.  Unlike those artists, Lecrae is burdened with the cumbersome label.  Yet all four rappers address the ways in which their faith influences their perspectives on matters including race and social justice.

Lecrae practically dared the approximately 600 white members of the audience of about 1,000 to walk out of his show at the Truman on Saturday.  In a prologue to “Facts”,” a confrontational song about the separation he feels from his white Christians fans, Lecrae explained that they can’t possibly understand the challenges associated with being black in America.

I didn’t see anyone leave.  Lecrae has already been shunned by listeners who didn’t appreciate his embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement and the secular creep in his hip-hop.  He drew more than 5,000 people to a sold-out concert in Independence three years ago (my review for The Kansas City Star).  Saturday’s dramatically reduced audience consisted of diehard fans.

Accompanied by four musicians and two dancers, Lecrae featured songs from his new album All Things Work Together.  Their renditions of ”I’ll Find You”, ”Blessings” and ”Hammer Time”- songs that struck me as overly commercial when I first listened to the project- made the selections seem profound.  I don’t intend to walk out on Lecrae anytime soon.


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I reviewed Molly Hammer’s debut album at Plastic Sax.

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I named Wick & the Tricks KCUR’s Band of the Week.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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The jazz vocalist and drummer Grady Tate has died.

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Jimmy Beaumont of the Skyliners has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

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Kelela’s Take Me Apart is the latest in an extensive list of acclaimed art-oriented (ostensibly) R&B albums released in 2017 that fail to move me.  Among the other notable offenders: Sampha’s Process, Ibayi’s Ash and Moses Sumney’s Aromanticism.  I call shenanigans.  These unbearably pretentious emperors and empresses have no clothes.

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An in-store performance by JD McPherson and his band at Vinyl Renaissance floored me a couple weeks ago.  I hadn’t grasped that the group was truly exceptional.  The passion and the craftsmanship of the musicians make most of the ballyhooed garage-rock bands signed to Burger Records seem like chumps.  ”Lucky Penny” may be the weakest song on the new album Undivided Heart & Soul.

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The Afghan Whigs’ In Spades is a whiskey-soaked fever dream.  RIYL: Nick Cave, rock and roll ghosts, Phil Spector.  Here’s the flesh-filled video for ”Oriole”.

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Baby Talk, a document from a 2015 meeting between The Thing and James “Blood” Ulmer, is skronk heaven.

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Ignore Carla Bruni’s backstory and baggage- her imaginative French Touch is an entirely charming novelty album.  Here’s ”Miss You”.

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Setembro, a hushed Euro-jazz album by Mario Laginha, Julian Argüelles and Helge Andreas Norbakken, is infuriatingly docile.

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Johnny O’Neal’s In the Moment makes the lush life seem so appealing that I’m fighting the urge to put on a suit, make a beeline for the nearest piano bar and drink until I fall off a barstool.  The album’s EPK is engaging, but it doesn’t touch on O’Neal’s health struggles or the sense of wistfulness that permeates the project.

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I draw strength and inspiration from Marvin Sapp’s Close.  Here’s the title track.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, October 06, 2017

Yesterday's Wine


To paraphrase Waylon Jennings’ 1977 hit, I was raised on Hank Williams' pain songs, Mickey Newberry's train songs and “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.”  Willie Nelson has been a more integral part of my life than any other musician.  He and I have both changed considerably through the decades.  During renditions of “Nuages” and “Funny How Time Slips Away” on Wednesday, the icon and I might have been the only people at Starlight Theatre who believed they were at a jazz concert.  Nelson’s vocal phrasing and guitar technique were squarely in the tradition of Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt and Billie Holiday.  I realize it sounds odd, but Nelson is one of my favorite jazz artists.


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I named the Sextet KCUR’s Band of the Week.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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El Factor, Rich the Factor’s third album of 2017, further confirms what I tell anyone willing to listen to my ranting- the rapper is Kansas City’s most consequential musician.

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Blues man CeDell Davis has died.

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If I were to host a formal cocktail party, I’d make Dee Dee Bridgewater’s covers collection Memphis… Yes, I’m Ready a central part of the playlist.  RIYL: Otis Redding, sophisticated soul, Ann Peebles.

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Our Point of View, a new release by an ensemble appropriately billed as the Blue Note Records All-Stars, is much more than a generic jam session.  RIYL: Ambrose Akinmusire, up-to-the-minute jazz, Robert Glasper.  Here’s ”Second Light”.

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Considering he’s imprisoned, Kevin Gates’ By Any Means 2 is more than adequate.  Here’s “Why I”.

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Sweet Pea Atkinson’s Get What You Deserve is at the center of my wheelhouse.  RIYL: Bobby “Blue Bland, self-aware soul, Bobby Womack.

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Ladilikan, a collaboration between the Kronos Quartet and Trio Da Kali, is a few notches too delicate for me.

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The chitlin-circuit soul of Ms. Jody’s Thunder Under Yonder brings me so much joy that I forgive her for conflating Spanglish and Jamaican patois on a goofy interpretation of “Stir It Up.”

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Jonas Kaufmann is transcendent on L’Opéra.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, October 02, 2017

Tom Petty, 1950-2017


The music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was so incongruous in the late 1970s that a record store in the Crown Center shops in Kansas City filed the group’s 1976 self-titled album and 1978’s You’re Gonna Get It! in its “new wave” section. 

The mislabeling was somewhat understandable.  When played alongside the polished likes of Foreigner’s “Cold as Ice” on commercial rock radio stations, the rough-and-tumble “Breakdown” sounded entirely alien.

Only when Damn the Torpedoes hit in 1979 did it become completely apparent that Petty’s music was squarely in the center of the American rock and roll tradition.  His appearance at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, on January 11, 1980, was one of the most powerful performances I’ve witnessed.  (Opening act the Fabulous Poodles weren’t bad either.)

Petty died today.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Review: The Lyric Opera of Kansas City's "Eugene Onegin" at Muriel Kauffman Theatre


I glibly dismissed opera as a teenager.  When people asked me what types of music I liked, I’d respond by saying “everything but opera.”  The ignorant retort was based on my perception of opera as a bastion of privilege.  I didn’t actually attend an opera until about 15 years ago.

I rolled the dice when I bought four tickets to a production of Arrigo Boito’s “Mefistofele” at Teatro dell'Opera di Roma for the equivalent of $75 U.S. dollars.  I expected my young children to revolt after 30 minutes.  Instead, they were spellbound by the operatic portrayal of Satan.  I was similarly transfixed.  (There’s definitely something to the “when in Rome” trope.)

I’ve since begun listening to arias for pleasure, a development partly inspired by my interest in the dramatic rise to stardom of Joyce DiDonato, a fellow Kansan.  I spent $39 (plus the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts’ regressive $6.50 add-on fee) for an upper balcony seat to the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s production of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” on Saturday.

Spending big money to take in a glacially-paced three-hour Russian opera isn’t everyone’s idea of a solid Saturday night, a truth reflected by the spotty attendance.  A third of the seats in Muriel Kauffman Theatre were empty, a bad look for an opening night.

I would have adored almost every minute of the opera even if I didn’t have an entire row to myself.  The stellar performance of the Kansas City Symphony under the direction of Ari Pelto kept me riveted even when the flimsy plot dragged.  It didn’t hurt that I was smitten by Raquel González.  She was radiant in the role of Tatyana.  I also admired Steven Cole’s cameo as Monsieur Triquet and Jane Bunnell’s portrayal of Filipyevna.

The subtle lighting, sublime special effects and handsome sets transported me to Russia, a bewitchment that was broken by the heedless chatter just outside the theater doors that disrupted quiet segments of all three acts.  Nyet, nyet, nyet!


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I reviewed the Sextet’s new album Blob Castle at Plastic Sax.

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I’m a sucker for the Floozies’ unrepentantly dim-witted party jams.  Funk Jesus is RIYL sunshine, EOTO, beer bongs.

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Mastodon’s output just sounds better than most hard rock/heavy metal recordings.  The new four-song EP Cold Dark Place is RIYL Blizzard of Ozz, pomp, Diary of a Madman.  Here’s the title track.

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Not every reissue of vintage Afropop is worthwhile.  Vincent Ahehehinnou’s Best Woman seems like a desultory rehearsal.

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Kamasi Washington’s 31-minute Harmony of Difference is a digestible cosmic jazz document.  ”Truth” is the longest track.

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“There’s a Flaw in My Flue”!  I finally got around to listening to Bob Dylan’s Triplicate.  He’s clearly trolling, and I love it anyway.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Oh Very Young


I don’t recall hearing nursery rhymes as a kid.  The sing-song hits of Cat Stevens, however, were integral components of the soundtrack of my childhood.  “Wild World” and “Peace Train” are among the ditties that helped shape my worldview at an impressionable age.  The Laughing Apple is rightfully billed as a return to form for the man who now goes by Yusuf Islam.  I can’t resist the nostalgic charm of guileless songs like ”See What Love Did To Me” and “You Can Do (Whatever)”.


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I reviewed Melissa Etheridge’s concert with the Kansas City Symphony at Helzberg Hall.

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Thundercat gave me hope last week.  My notes about his revelatory concert in Lawrence are at Plastic Sax.

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I celebrated the reunion of Hadacol on KCUR’s Up To Date.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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Charles Bradley has died.

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Souljazz Orchestra’s spectacular Under Burning Skies sounds like Awesome Tapes From Africa come to life.  Here’s ”Dog Eat Dog”.

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Will Downing’s Soul Survivor is RIYL Charlie Wilson, romance, Joe.  Here’s ”I’m Feeling the Love Again”.

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Riser, the debut album of the London based guitarist Rob Luft, is so startlingly imaginative that it makes the majority of jazz musicians seem like dullards.  RIYL: Lionel Loueke, unorthodoxy, David Binney.

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I take the Christian rapper Lecrae seriously.  That’s why I’m disappointed by the wildly inconsistent All Things Work Together.  Here’s ”Blessings”.

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Joe McPhee makes an unholy racket with Damon Smith and Alvin Fielder on Six Situations.  RIYL: skronk, Anthony Braxton, room-clearing jazz.

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Young Martha, the four-song EP that pairs the eccentric rapper Young Thug with the left-of-center producer Carnage, is correspondingly freaky.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Album Review: Pistol Pete- The 3Pete


The rims on the minivan in the hilarious video for ”Konichiwa” sold me on the Kansas City rapper Pistol Pete.  He’s as funny as Mac Lethal and as funky as Rich the Factor on his new album The 3Pete.

Pistol Pete insists that “I ain’t a rapper, I’m more a storyteller” on “2bad2good.”   The track’s jazz foundation indicates that the title is a likely reference to the Canadian jazz/hip-hop collective BadBadNotGood.  “So Gone” also swings while other tracks reveal the influence of Mac Dre.

The 3Pete concludes with my new theme song “Only Opponent.”  Like Mac Lethal, Rich the Factor and Pistol Pete, I see my most formidable adversary “when I look in the mirror.”


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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I featured Molly Hammer in my weekly segment for KCUR.

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I documented a portion of my recent whiskey trip to Louisville at Plastic Sax.

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The one-time Kansan Mark Selby, a graduate of Fort Hays State who co-wrote the Dixie Chicks hit “There’s Your Trouble,” has died.

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Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s first album of 2017 struck me as a pointless recreation of Miles Davis’ Decoy.  A more interesting groove makes Diaspora a much better listen.

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Difficult admission: I’d never heard most of the tracks on the new Can compilation The Singles.  Aside from a few slices of cheese at the end, every song is stunning.

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Rock musician Jeremy Porter wrote an excellent remembrance of Grant Hart.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Puttin' On the Ritz



A base in Greenwich Village on a recent trip to New York City altered my perspective of the ostensible artistic and economic capital of the world.  Aside from the omnipresent scent of urine, there was nothing I didn’t like about the neighborhood (not that I could afford even the least expensive items in many of the rarified shops.)  Finding the willpower to sleep when renowned jazz clubs were within a 15-minute walk was a real challenge.

I didn’t catch Bill Charlap this time around, but the sophisticated tone of the pianist’s new album Uptown, Downtown with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington reflects the urbane ambiance I encountered at tony venues including the Blue Note.  (Here's my footage of a fancy Eddie Palmieri show.)

The host at Mezzrow may have mistaken me for David Lynch when he positioned me at a prime table for a solo concert by Sullivan Fortner even though I was wearing a ratty t-shirt.  I felt like I was at the top of the world as people decked out for fashion shoots and residents of luxury condos envied my spot within arm’s reach of the engaging young pianist.


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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I laud the Black Dolphin at Plastic Sax.

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Don Williams has died.

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Hüsker Dü was one of my favorite bands in the mid-’80s.  Grant Hart’s warm songs provided vital balance on classic albums like Flip Your Wig.  Hart died Wednesday.

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Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry died last week.  Montgomery Gentry headlined a concert at Providence Medical Center Amphitheater in Bonner Springs a few weeks ago.

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I caught Sheer Mag at Kaiju in Louisville last week.

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Hearing Sammy Hagar’s “Heavy Metal” on KSHE while driving through St. Louis this week made me giddy, but played-out tracks by Jefferson Starship, Pink Floyd Cheap Trick, Tom Petty and Yes just made me sad.

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Instant Karma’s Trying To Find My Mind is RIYL the Pretty Things, Kansas City garage-rock bands, Wreckless Eric.

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Van Hunt’s terrific Popular acts as an accidental Prince tribute.

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Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real’s self-titled release  is a fine outlaw country-ish album.  RIYL: the Grateful Dead, legacies, Sturgill Simpson.

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I admire Matt Wilson’s Honey and Salt: Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg, but I don’t necessarily like it.  RIYL: Ken Nordine, beatniks, Lord Buckley.

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A pithy jam band?  That’s the premise of Hard Working Americans.  We’re All In This Together is RIYL Todd Snider, barroom blues, Widespread Panic.  Here’s the title track.

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In much the same way I crave junk food, I derive enormous pleasure from Playboi Carti’s self-titled mixtape. Here’s “New Choppa”.

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Much of Living Colour’s Shade is stunning.  Here’s the band’s cover of “Who Shot Ya?”

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My lack of enthusiasm for Malija’s Instinct is further proof that I’m not automatically in the tank for every highly-touted Euro-jazz album.  RIYL: Paul Desmond, cold handshakes, Phronesis.

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Mike Stern Trip is an appealing time machine.  RIYL: the Brecker Brothers, jazz fusion circa 1980, We Want Miles.

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Krystian Zimerman’s Franz Schubert: Piano Sonatas has helped to center me in recent days.

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Antibalas’ Where the Gods Are in Peace is more of the same.  That’s a good thing.  RIYL Fela, celestial jams, Lettuce.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Concert Review: Rich the Factor, the Popper and Don Juan at 7th Heaven


“I’m KC!”  I don’t wear Kansas City-branded t-shirts and I’ve never used a #kcpride hashtag.  Yet as the Popper performed his latest anthem about Kansas City in a parking lot on Troost Avenue on Labor Day, I realized that I may be Kansas City’s truest music enthusiast.  Not only did I begin documenting my longstanding devotion to the sound that made the town famous at Plastic Sax in 2007, I have concurrently chronicled the rap scene that’s produced the only other hometown sound to make a significant global impression during that span.

In the four-and-a-half hours I spent at the free outdoor event sponsored by 7th Heaven, Rich the Factor, the Popper and Don Juan were among the prominent artists who expressed appreciation for their longstanding partnership with the scrappy retailer.  Bucking music industry trends, CDs are sold alongside the apparel lines of Kansas City rap heavyweights at the store.

As I wrote in a 2016 album review, Rich the Factor is “a veritable legend on the streets of the city’s urban core.” He affirmed his status during an auspicious headlining performance.  Don Juan performed “I Am the Street” after boasting that “I started that Tech N9ne sh*t” and reminding onlookers of his affiliation with the late Mac Dre.  Rush Borda, Chauncey Clyde and the teen duo Candii Gyrlz were among the other notable acts at the makeshift rooftop stage that validated my obsessive dedication to the most essential Kansas City music.

I posted video snippets of sets by Rich the Factor, Don Juan and The Popper to my Instagram account.  I also documented 7th Heaven’s Taste of Troost party in 2009.


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I named the forthcoming Gorillaz show at the Sprint Center my concert of the month for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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The Project H is KCUR’s Band of the Week.  My on-air segment will appear online in this space.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I recount my experience at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in Tompkins Square Park at Plastic Sax.

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I hope the reports that the Kansas City musician Ben Juneau has died are incorrect.

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Walter Becker of Steely Dan has died.

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Holger Czukay of Can has died.

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I opted to attend Noise Fest at Davey’s rather than the Kansas City Irish Fest at Crown Center last weekend.  Most of the acts I saw at the shambolic event sponsored by Leavenworth’s Big Pharma Records were merely uninspired dudes who manipulated feedback and static.  Only Pussyvision’s riveting freakout redeemed my break with tradition.

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A$AP Mob’s Cozy Tapes Vol. 2: Too Cozy is rude, childish and without any redeeming social value.  Needless to say, I'm all about it.  Here’s “Perry Aye”.

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The members of Algiers and I clearly like a lot of the same records.  It’s odd, consequently, that I can’t get into The Underside of Power.  RIYL Solomon Burke, futuristic gospel, Elvis Presley.  Here’s the title track.

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Eric Revis’ astounding Sing Me Some Cry is RIYL Ken Vandermark, temerity, David Ware.

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While it’s not exactly complex, Lil Uzi Vert’s Luv Is Rage 2 is shockingly multidimensional.  Color me (very) impressed.  Here’s ”How To Talk”.

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New Order’s Power, Corruption and Lies turned my world around in 1983.  Even with its overt tributes to Suicide and David Bowie, I hear LCD Soundsystem’s American Dream as a heartfelt homage to the seminal release.

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If Tyler, The Creator is really as miserable as he sounds on Flower Boy, he’s likely going to be utterly despondent when he's 50.  RIYL: cranks, Earl Sweatshirt, misanthropes.  Here’s ”Who Dat Boy”.

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I can’t be sure that I’ve listened to Ozuna’s ridiculously slight Odisea.  His reggaeton is the wispiest music I’ve heard.  Here’s “Una Flor”.

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I don’t loathe Portico Quartet’s Art in the Age of Automation because the ensemble has shifted away from jazz.  I simply can’t stand the sound of soulless ringtones.

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P.O.S’s verses on Shredders’ ”Flipping Cars” are stupendous.

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The gratuitous volume employed by Mogwai at a Matador Records showcase at SXSW in 2001 came just shy of making my ears literally bleed.  I was unable to flee because I was working the show.  I’ve held a grudge against the Scottish band ever since.  Even so, I’ve fallen hard for Every Country’s Sun.

(Original image of Rich the Factor by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Concert Review: Aaron Neville at City Winery


My life partner told me that several acquaintances have asked her which Broadway productions she caught on our recent jaunt to New York City.  Those people don’t know us very well.  Predictably, we haunted music venues. Only one show commanded the exorbitant ticket prices associated with hit musicals.  Aaron Neville was worth it. Accompanied by pianist Michael Goods, the legendary vocalist crooned for 200 people at City Winery.  Although I wasn’t always thrilled with the selections- I would have preferred less Carole King and more Allen Toussaint- Neville still sings like a bird.  Enduring a leisurely version of the Bobby Goldsboro hit “Honey” was rough, but the star made up for his lapse in judgement with readings of “Hercules,” “Mojo Hannah” and a bitterly timely interpretation of Randy Newman’s “Louisiana 1927.”  You can bet I wept.


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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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For once, I come across as a prescient genius in Tim Finn’s analysis of Taylor Swift’s career.

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I enjoy Queens of the Stone Age’s Villians without reservation.  ”The Evil Has Landed” is my jam.

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I’m down with Najee.  Wanna make something of it?  Poetry In Motion is expertly manufactured functional music.

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Quaint swing isn't usually my thing, but To Love and Be Loved, the new release from the veteran pianist Harold Mabern, charmed me.

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The backstory of Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa is horrific.  As for the music, well, I’ve never heard anything quite like it.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Album Review: Youngblood Supercult- The Great American Death Rattle


When a friend recently informed me that the Topeka based Youngblood Supercult had been added to the lineup of Psycho Las Vegas, a festival headlined by the Brian Jonestown Massacre, King Diamond and Mastodon, he and I marveled at the stoner-rock band's low profile in its home market.  The lo-fi sludge of 151-proof songs like “Wormwood” on the new album The Great American Death Rattle effectively recycle the best bits of early Soundgarden, Fu Manchu and Clutch.  Even though the quartet has yet to make much of an impression in Kansas City, Youngblood Supercult is one of the mightiest bands in the Midwest.


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I reviewed a concert by Marco Antonio Solis and Jesse & Joy.

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I featured jazz bassist Micah Herman on my weekly KCUR segment.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I trespassed on a rarifed jazz salon last week.

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Sonny Burgess has died.

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I claimed Sargasso Sea, my introduction to the music of John Abercrombie, from a discount bin at Classical Westport in the late ‘70s.  I haven’t been the same since. Abercrombie died on Tuesday.

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I’m embarrassed for almost everyone associated with the utterly dismal Rich the Factor Presents KC’s the Town Compilation.

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I like A$AP Ferg’s crossover hits more than his club bangers.  Although it sounds like a million bucks, Still Striving is a street album. Here’s ”East Coast Remix”.

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Acoustic Classics II, a new set of re-recordings, is an ideal introduction to the cult of Richard Thompson.

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Three or four songs on Not Dark Yet, a collaboration between sisters Allison Moorer and Shelby Lynne, please me.

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Even though Yelena Eckemoff is accompanied by jazz luminaries including Chris Potter on In the Shadow of a Cloud, the album is less satisfying than Blooming Tall Phlox, the astounding January release she recorded with relatively obscure Finnish musicians.

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Eddie Palmieri’s music has infused me with joy for decades.  Sabiduria is no different.  RIYL: Willie Bobo, life, Tito Puente.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

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.)