Monday, April 24, 2017

Dessicated


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Concert Review: Salif Keita at Town Hall

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Concert Review: Chris Brown at the Sprint Center


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

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

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

Aaron Randle reviewed the concert for The Kansas City Star.


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

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

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

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

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, April 10, 2017

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Quarterly Report


I’m embarking on a brief blogging break.  Before I get out of Dodge, I’ll leave you with three arbitrary lists.

My Ten Favorite Concerts of 2017 (so far)
1. Charlie Wilson, Fantasia and Johnny Gill- Sprint Center
2. Jazz 100 featuring Danilo Pérez, Lizz Wright and Avishai Cohen- Yardley Hall
3. Joseph- Madrid Theatre
4. Patti LaBelle- Muriel Kauffman Theatre
5. Ramsey Lewis- Gem Theater
6. Ben Folds with the Kansas City Symphony- Helzberg Hall
7. Gaelynn Lea- Folk Alliance International Conference at Crown Center
8. Jessica Care Moore- Black Archives of Mid-America
9. Pure Disgust- Encore Room
10. Simone Porter- Folly Theater

My Ten Favorite Songs of 2017 (so far)
1. Calvin Harris featuring Frank Ocean and Migos- “Slide”
2. Valerie June- “Astral Plane”
3. Sunny Sweeney- “Bottle by My Bed”
4. Craig Finn- “God in Chicago”
5. Lorde- “Liability”
6. Young Fathers- “Only God Knows”
7. Alejandro Fernandez- “Agridulce”
8. José James- “To Be With You”
9. Brother Ali- “Own Light (What Hearts Are For)”
10. Chronixx- “Majesty”

My Ten Favorite Albums of 2017 (so far)
1. Miguel Zenón- Tipico
2. Tinariwen- Elwan
3. Yelena Eckemoff- Blooming Tall Phlox
4. Future- Hndrxx
5. Uniform- Wake in Fright
6. Mark Eitzel- Hey Mr. Ferryman
7. Víkingur Ólafsson- Philip Glass: Piano Works
8. Code Orange- Forever
9. Ibibio Sound Machine- Uyai
10. Noah Preminger- Meditations on Freedom



---
I reviewed Rodney Crowell’s appearance at Knuckleheads.

---
I reviewed Patti LaBelle’s concert at Muriel Kauffman Theatre.

---
I reviewed the Jazz 100 concert at Yardley Hall at Plastic Sax.

---
I discussed Victor & Penny on my weekly segment for KCUR.

---
I wrote an extended preview of Xenia Rubinos’ concert for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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

---
Craig Finn’s We All Want the Same Things is a mixed bag.  The standout tracks are “God in Chicago” and “Jester & June.”

---
Tedeschi Trucks is my all-time favorite jam band.  Here’s a ten-minute interpretation of ”Keep On Growing" from Live From the Fox Oakland.

---
Havok’s Conformicide is RIYL Megadeth, political metal, Revocation.  Here’s ”Intention to Deceive”.

---
Spoon’s Hot Thoughts and Sinkane’s Life & Livin’ It could be the first and second discs of the same sprawling modern pop album.  RIYL: dancing, the Isley Brothers, fun.

(Original image of Charlie Wilson, Johnny Gill and band by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Chuck Berry, 1926-2017


Prior to buying The Great Twenty-Eight as a new release in 1982, I thought of Chuck Berry as the guy responsible for the novelty hit “My Ding-a-Ling.”  The compilation rectified that misleading impression.  The euphoric aggressiveness of Berry’s earth-shaking songs was of a piece with a few of my other favorite albums of 1982, including the Clash’s Combat Rock and George Clinton’s Computer Games.

I attended my first Berry concert a year or two later.   It was terrible.  He was clearly going through the motions.  Yet I didn’t give up.  My persistence paid off the third or fourth time I saw Berry.  Lou Whitney and his cohorts in the Skeletons and the Morells acted as Berry’s backing band at Parody Hall in Kansas City.

Fondly remembered in these parts as ”the best bar band ever”, the quality of Whitney’s group clearly surprised Berry.  The legend became increasingly elated as his exceptional pickup band survived each of his challenges.  Against his contrary inclinations, Berry went all-in on that memorable night.  I never saw him try half as hard again.  Berry died yesterday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Juke


Rather than shedding tears of grief upon learning of the death of the aged blues harmonica titan James Cotton yesterday, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for living during an era that enabled me to catch multiple performances by the luminary.  I first witnessed Cotton at the original incarnation of Antone’s in Austin. I heard him for the last time at the Uptown Theater in 2011.  Thanks to the blues scare of the late 1980s and early 1990s, I also attended plenty of gigs by John Lee Hooker, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Rogers, Albert Collins, B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Honeyboy Edwards, Koko Taylor, Johnny Copeland, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Z.Z. Hill and many other since-departed giants.  The blues was alright.


---
I reviewed last night’s outstanding concert by Charlie Wilson, Fantasia and Johnny Gill at the Sprint Center.

---
I reviewed Ben Folds’ concert with the Kansas City Symphony.

---
I reviewed the Quality Hill Playhouse production “Unchained Melody.”

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

---
I named Everette DeVan the KCUR Band of the Week.

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

---
I reviewed the one-man play Live Bird at Plastic Sax.

---
Evan Johns has died.

---
Joni Sledge has died.

---
Tommy LiPuma has died.

---
New albums by the Kansas City based artists Samantha Fish, Hermon Mehari and Matt Otto were released today.

---
The heavy Kansas City rock band Hyborian is off to an auspicious start with ”As Above, So Below”.

---
Based on the stellar quality of the three advance tracks from Valerie June’s new album The Order of Time, I was hoping for a modern-day Astral Weeks.  It’s not even close.  The remainder of The Order of Time is merely good.  RIYL: Van Morrison, celestial boogie, Iris DeMent.

---
I thought I’d outgrown 1980s college rock, but the Rolling Blackouts' The French Press makes me swoon in spite of myself.  RIYL: The Windbreakers, 1985,  the Go-Betweens.  Here’s ”Julie’s Place”.

---
Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives’ Way Out West is a showcase for guitarist Kenny Vaughan.  RIYL: Dick Dale, spaghetti westerns, Marty Robbins.  Here’s the title track.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Album Review: Ibibio Sound Machine- Uyai


So-called “world music” radio programming in the pre-internet era frustrated me.  The majority of the specialty DJs on college and public radio stations condescendingly prized rigid stylistic purity.  Performers like Angelique Kidjo who dared to incorporate contemporary styles into their sounds were dismissed in favor of “authentic” artists.  Selections like ”Give Me a Reason” on Ibibio Sound Machine’s Uyai that betray the influence of acts ranging from Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band to Thomas Dolby would never would have been played by those patronizing gatekeepers.  And that’s a large part of what makes Uyai wonderful.


---
I reviewed Art Garfunkel’s concert at Helzberg Hall.

---
I reviewed Joseph’s concert at the Madrid Theatre.

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

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

---
I commended the popularity of the Elders on KCUR.

---
Dave Valentin has died.

---
Tommy Page has died.

---
The Kansas City rapper CB channels Atlanta on his latest track.

---
Would you rather be an elite name in an esoteric realm or a mid-tier performer in a more popular format?  José James has opted for the latter.   He discards almost every trace of the sound that once made him a rising star in the jazz world on his fine neo-soul album Love In a Time of Madness.  RIYL: Robin Thicke, successful transitions, Ledisi.

---
No matter how hard I try, I just can’t get with the new wave of stylish rock-informed jazz bands led by Snarky Puppy.  Kneebody’s Anti-Hero makes me wish I was listening to my old James “Blood” Ulmer, Billy Cobham or King Crimson albums instead.

---
Chicano Batman’s Freedom Is Free may be my all-time favorite Grateful Dead album.  Here’s ”Friendship (Is a Small Boat in a Storm”.

---
Fat Joe and Remy Ma’s Plata O Plomo is old-school fun.  RIYL: Big Pun, 2000, New York.  Here’s “Money Showers”.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, March 03, 2017

Concert Review: Simone Porter at the Folly Theater


Almost every one of the dozens of children and teenagers who made up about half of the audience in the back of the balcony of the Folly Theater on Sunday afternoon were riveted by the performance of Simone Porter.  The young violinist’s ability to transfix kids impressed me almost as much as her sterling readings of works by Mozart, Janáček, Pärt and Brahms during the free concert in the venerable Harriman-Jewell Series.  Even the boys who played video games at intermission were silent as Porter and pianist Armen Guzelimian played the challenging selections.  I won’t pretend to understand how the star-making machinery works in the classical realm, but the poise and artistry Porter displayed on Sunday made her a commendable celebrity in the eyes and ears of hundreds of young devotees in Kansas City.


---
I reviewed Stik Figa’s Central Standard album for KCUR.

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

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

---
My review of Alaturka’s concert at Polsky Theatre is posted at Plastic Sax.

---
I discussed Poor Bishop Hooper on KCUR this week.

---
Horace Parlan has died.

---
”Freedom Cobra” is the rawk song I’ve long wanted from the Kansas City band Bummer.

---
David Longstreth of Dirty Projectors is the Donald Fagen of indie-rock.  That makes Dirty Projectors’ new self-titled album the equivalent of Aja.

---
Much like Dirty Projectors, Thundercat’s Drunk is the eccentric brainchild of a California man who’s often too smart for his own good. Drunk is much better on paper than in practice.  RIYL: Frank Zappa, concept albums, Van Dyke Parks.  ”Walk On By” is the best track.

---
And much like Drunk, Karriem Riggins’ Headnod Suite indulges the occasionally whimsical impulses of a master musician.  RIYL: Clyde Stubblefield, drumming lessons, Garageband.

---
The sense of fun that’s often absent in jazz abounds on the hilarious Loafer’s Hollow, the latest effort from Mostly Other People Do the Killing.  RIYL: Louis Armstrong, audacity, Henry Threadgill.

---
The spacey R&B on Kingdom’s Tears in the Club is RIYL Jhene Aiko, spacing out, SZA.  Here’s ”Nothin’”.

---
Although Stormzy overshares on the schizophrenic Gang Signs & Prayer, the angry tracks are genuine bangers.  Here’s ”Big For Your Boots”.

---
A few of my pals will lose their minds over Brokeback’s instrumental guitar album Illinois River Valley Blues.  RIYL: Link Wray, imaginary movies, the Coctails.

---
Until I ingested Man Vs. Sofa last week, I hadn’t listened to a new Adrian Sherwood album in years.  He’s still great.  RIYL: bass, Lee “Scratch” Perry, dub.

---
Víkingur Ólafsson’s Philip Glass: Piano Works is stunning.

---
Pissed Jeans’ relentless Why Love Now is RIYL testosterone, F8cked Up, angry white men.  Here’s ”The Bar Is Low”.

---
I wondered how Future expected to fill arenas on his forthcoming tour after issuing an inaccessible self-titled album two weeks ago.  The immediate follow-up Hndrxx solves the problem by serving as the vehicle for several likely hits.

---
I wanted to love Los Campensinos!’s Sick Scene, but it’s about four notches too subdued for me.  Here’s ”The Fall of Home”.

---
I can almost imagine an alternate universe in which Son Volt is my favorite band.  Notes of Blue is RIYL consistency, Furry Lewis, the Midwest.

---
Even though I won’t spend much time listening to Little Big Town’s The Breaker for pleasure, I’m awed by its seamless merger of pop, country and classic rock.  Here’s ”Better Man”.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I Might


I have no patience for the several important new albums that were released on Friday.  My obsession with “Slide” is in the way.  The collaboration between Calvin Harris, Migos and Frank Ocean is pure pop bliss.  “Slide” may be the best step dance song since R. Kelly’s joyous 2003 jam “Step in the Name of Love”


---
I discussed Momma’s Boy on KCUR.

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

---
I address the Janelle Monáe-related snafu that’s distressed much of Kansas City’s music and political communities at Plastic Sax.  I desperately hope that the following artists are the primary targets of the people in charge of the booking the American Jazz Museum’s new $50-per-day festival: A Tribe Called Quest, Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Childish Gambino, Al Green, Lauryn Hill, Norah Jones, Kendrick Lamar, Diana Ross, Solange and Stevie Wonder.

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

---
Larry Coryell has died.

---
Leon Ware has died.

---
Barbara Carroll has died.

---
Blacswet, a self-titled EP featuring Spoek Mathambo, sounds like the soundtrack to George Clinton’s most lucid dream.  RIYL: “Atomic Dog,” European discotheques, Clipping.  (Tip via Big Steve.)

---
Charlie Wilson has supplied an inordinately large portion of the soundtrack of my life.  Alas, In It To Win It is disappointing.  Only two or three songs are exceptional.  Here’s ”I’m Blessed”.

---
The sparseness of La Diversité fooled me at first.  The open spaces cleverly obscure the depth of the latest effort by the Belgian saxophonist Nicolas Kummert and Lionel Loueke.  RIYL: Chris Potter, eurojazz, Pat Metheny.

---
It’s not them; it’s me.  Windy City and Highway Queen, the new albums by Alison Krauss and Nikki Lane, don’t move me.

---
Adam Schneit reached out to me about securing coverage of his 2016 album Light Shines In.  I’m pleased to report that it’s superlative progressive jazz in the vein of Bill Frisell and Steve Lacy.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Different Strokes and Indifferent Folks


I spent three nights working at the Folk Alliance conference last week.  (My summaries are here, here and here.)  While I admired a lot of what I heard- showcases by Bill Miller, Gaelynn Lea, Barbara Dane, Elle Márjá Eira and Wink Burcham were magnificent- I felt a bit detached.  

A good portion of the attendees had dedicated their lives to folk music.  Not me.  I might have been forcibly ejected from the conference had the true believers around me known that I had listened to the latest release by the rapper Future on the way to the event each night.

During one showcase, I was seated next to a man with no awareness of personal space.  I suspected that his life was transformed by Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Pete Seeger in the early ‘60s.  He went into ecstatic paroxysms when a performer broke into the protest song “(Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody) Turn Me Around.” 

I was both annoyed and envious.  That was his moment.  What’s mine?  If I love everything, am I deeply attached to nothing?   I often feel like a profligate philanderer who sleeps with a different partner every night and inevitably winds up alone and friendless.


---
I reviewed Run the Jewels’s return to the Midland theater.

---
I elected to hit the Green Lady Lounge instead of attending the Kansas City Folk Festival on Sunday afternoon.  My notes on Dominique Sanders’ momentous weekend are posted at Plastic Sax.

---
Benjamin Netanyahu bumped me off the airwaves last week.  I was slated to yak about the Ozark Mountain Daredevils.

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

---
Clyde Stubblefield has died.

---
Al Jarreau has died.

---
Junie Morrison has died.

---
I confess to reading the recent spate of rock-is-dead essays with almost as much relish as the inescapable jazz-is-dead dissertations.  And man, when I hear certain songs on “rock” radio stations, I’m overwhelmed with an urge to break stuff.  Uniform’s Wake in Fright makes me feel better.  Excoriating noise in the vein of Big Black and Jesus Lizard, Uniform’s Wake in Fright is a vicious ghost of rock past.  Here’s ”Tabloid”.

---
The New Year's Concert 2017 with Gustavo Dudamel is less than three hours long, but it took me more than a month to work my way through the opus.  Maybe Vienna isn’t for me.

---
David Bowie probably made scouting expeditions at New York jazz clubs before selecting Donny McClaslin’s band to create Blackstar.  A group led by David Binney might have been his second choice.  Binney’s fine new album The Time Verses is similarly exploratory. 

---
I can’t defend my affection for John Garcia’s The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues.  It’s a bombastic metal-goes-acoustic jam.  And I love it.  RIYL: Alice In Chains, smoke, Kyuss.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Pain Meds


Ten absorbing new albums have provided comfort and distraction during my recovery from an invasive surgical procedure.  My ranking and notes follow.

1. Syd- Fin.  The promising producer a.k.a.Syd the Kid, a.k.a. The Internet, isn’t Prince reincarnated, but she has her moments.  RIYL: The Weeknd, works in progress, Usher.

2. Alejandro Fernandez- Rompiendo Fronteras.  So romantic!  RIYL: Juan Gabriel, gorgeous schmaltz, Rod Stewart.

3. Tinariwen- Elwan. Further confirmation that Tinarwen is the world’s best blues band. RIYL: Terakaft, Mali, John Lee Hooker.

4. Mats Gustafsson- Ljubljana.  Cracking the code of the free jazz duet between the saxophonist and pianist Craig Taborn is well worth the effort.  RIYL: Albert Ayler, room-clearing noise, Matthew Shipp.

5. Miguel Zenón- Típico.  The celebrated album is a tad musty.  RIYL: Charlie Parker, critical consensus, Benny Golson.

6. Howe Gelb- Future Standards.  A compellingly morose cocktail jazz album from the Giant Sand dude.  RIYL: Bobby Troup, despair, Hoagy Carmichael.

7. Allison Crutchfield- Tourist in This Town.  Ingratiating retro pop- rock. RIYL Camera Obscura, handwritten letters, Ellen Foley. 

8. Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears- Backlash.  Scuzzy garage-rock (that’s a good thing, of course).  RIYL: The Fleshtones, Burger Records, the Sonics.

9. Ces Cru- Catastrophic Event Specialists. Jazz interludes are interspersed throughout the Kansas City duo’s best album.  RIYL: conspiracy theories, Twistid, “real” MCs.

10. Delia Derbyshire Appreciation Society.  Sublime synth nostalgia.  RIYL: Brian Eno, getting lost in space, Tangerine Dream.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

I Am a Small Axe


Managers at an area tavern invite luminaries to spin records at their establishment.  I considered angling for an engagement until I attended one of the functions.  The volume was absurdly low and I seemed to be the sole patron who was listening.  Even so, I recently created a playlist that’s heavy on groove-based jazz, funk, Latin boogaloo, vintage R&B and neo-soul that I might someday employ in a different setting.  In other words, my mix sounds a lot like a compilation of the music of David Axelrod.  The multi-dimensional artist died on February 5.


---
I reviewed a concert by Datsik, Crizzy and Virtual Riot.

---
I wrote extended concert previews about Chief Keef and Gaelynn Lea for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

---
I reviewed Matt Otto’s latest album at Plastic Sax.

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

---
The Menzingers’ After the Party isn’t for me, but many of my pals will fully embrace the strong album.  RIYL: the Hold Steady, balding punks, the Get Up Kids.  Here’s ”Lookers”.

---
The self-titled duet album by Brad Mehldau and Chris Thile is insufferably precious.  RIYL: fake folk, Yo-Yo Ma, grad school.

---
Ballrogg’s Abaft the Beam is RIYL Elliott Carter, “free chamber Americana,” B.J. Cole.  Here’s ”Block and Tackle”.

---
My high hopes for Nate Smith’s Kinfolk have been doused.  RIYL: Laura Nyro, limpid neo-soul, Lizz Wright.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Album Review: Mark Eitzel- Hey Mr. Ferryman


Mark Eitzel has my number.  Not literally- we last spoke in the ‘90s.  Yet his new album Hey Mr. Ferryman resembles a musical narration of my inner voice at 3 a.m.  Like Eitzel, I’m a fifty-something American whose life was changed by the music of Frank Sinatra, Sonny Rollins and Joe Strummer.  ”The Last Ten Years”, the opening track of Hey Mr. Ferryman, is loaded with zingers like “I saw the bartender’s love- I saw it in her yawn.”  The songs in which Eitzel banters with Jesus, dreams of slow-dancing in a kitchen and paints a portrait of a forlorn man who “gets grumpy trying to keep hope alive” hit uncomfortably close to my dilapidated home.


---
I reviewed Winter Jam at the Sprint Center.

---
I pondered the enigmatic Erica Joy on KCUR.

---
I wrote an extended concert preview about Eric Church’s return to the Sprint Center.

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

---
An anti-rap editorial in The Sedalia Democrat was inspired by a KCUR segment based on my advocacy of a song by the Popper.

---
John Wetton has died.

---
Delbert McClinton doesn’t give a flip on Prick of the Litter.  And that’s a good thing.  The new album is RIYL Dan Hicks, constructive indifference, Leon Russell.

---
Boosie’s fatalistic ”Crabs In a Bucket” is my new theme song.

---
Into the Blue, an EP by a trio led by the teen jazz pianist Emily Bear, is an exercise in tedious formalism.  RIYL: Joey Alexander, hype, Bill Charlap.

---
Kehlani’s SweetSexySavage is RIYL Janet Jackson, generic R&B, Jhene Aiko.  Here’s “Distraction”.

---
Bell Biv DeVoe’s Three Stripes is a barely passable reunion.

---
Miles Mosley’s Uprising is RIYL Snarky Puppy, bluster, Al Kooper’s Blood, Sweat & Tears.  Here’s a live version of “L.A. Won’t Bring You Down”.

---
Code Orange’s excellent Forever is RIYL chaos, the concept of metal version of Crass, throwing bricks.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Album Review: Yelena Eckemoff- Blooming Tall Phlox


Transfixed by the 98-minute album, I listened to Blooming Tall Phlox twice before researching the backstory of the unheralded but startlingly brilliant new release.  I discovered that each of the selections is intended to evoke a different scent that Yelena Eckemoff recalls from her childhood in Russia.  Whatever.  I’m far more interested in the ingenious arrangements and stellar playing of Eckemoff and the young band of Finns who realize her vision.  The cringey album trailer doesn't reflect the project's dazzling qualities.


---
I suggest at Plastic Sax that a reading by poet Hanif Abdurraqib ruined jazz for me.

---
I reviewed a disappointing Alexis y Fido concert.

---
I reviewed “I Got Rhythm” at Quality Hill Playhouse.

---
I featured A La Mode on my weekly segement on KCUR.

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

---
I wrote an extended concert preview about Eric Church’s return to the Sprint Center for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

---
Maggie Roche has died.

---
Overend Watts of Mott the Hoople has died.

---
Jaki Liebezeit of Can has died.

---
Butch Trucks has died.

---
Kid Koala’s wondrous Music To Draw To: Satellite is RIYL floating, Björk, dreaming.

---
Cherry Glazerr’s Apocalipstick is a rockin’ good time.

---
Nicky Jam’s new album Fénix goes on forever.

---
Bash & Pop’s quaint Anything Could Happen is RIYL: Pleased to Meet Me, Keith Richards’ solo career, Isolation Drills.

---
Craig Taborn’s Daylight Ghosts has that new ECM smell.

---
Wells Fargo’s Watch Out, an archival release by an obscure rock band from Zimbabwe, is RIYL the Faces, electric guitars, Jefferson Airplane.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Album Review: Noah Preminger- Meditations On Freedom


Noah Preminger is tilting at windmills.  Few artistic statements are more quixotic in 2017 than jazz protest albums.  Twitter rather than tonality is the order of the day.  Yet even if the New York based saxophonist fails to engage the new president in a war of words on social media, he’s made jazz great again with his sixth album Meditations On Freedom.  The project is slated for digital release on Friday, January 20, to coincide with the presidential inauguration.  Trumpeter Jason Palmer, bassist Kim Cass and drummer Ian Froman join the saxophonist on instrumental interpretations of familiar material including Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is” and striking original compositions like “The 99 Percent.”  Performed in the liberating free jazz style associated with Ornette Coleman’s classic quartet, the appropriately named Meditations On Freedom is terrific, tremendous and very, very strong.


---
I wrote a nasty review of a desultory concert by Lloyd and J. Holiday.

---
I reviewed Ramsey Lewis’ concert at the Gem Theater.

---
I reviewed Echoes of Europe, the new album by the Dino Massa Kansas City Quintet, for KCUR.

---
I chastised a misguided Kansas City artist at Plastic Sax.

---
I wrote an extended preview about Atmosphere’s return to the Granada.

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

---
I discussed Blackbird Revue on KCUR this week.

----
Posted here, for the first time anywhere- my response to the contemporaneous teen albums meme:
1. The Clash- London Calling
2. Michael Jackson- Off the Wall
3. Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson- Waylon & Willie
4. Bob Marley- Survival
5. Prince- 1999
6. Ramones- Ramones
7. Bruce Springsteen- Darkness on the Edge of Town
8. Talking Heads- Fear of Music
9. Hank Williams, Jr.- Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound
10. Stevie Wonder- Songs in the Key of Life
---
Buddy Greco has died.  I thought about goofing on the late lounge lizard, but I genuinely like this ish.

---
Tommy Allsup has died.

---
Greg Trooper has died.

---
William Onyeabor has died.

---
Yukmouth’s JJ Based On a Vill Story is an unexpected triumph. RIYL: The Game, Oakland gangsta rap, E-40.  ”Thank You Lord” may be the album’s worst song.

---
Systema Solar’s Rumbo A Tierra is a party-starter.  RIYL: Bomba Estéreo, a sense of surprise, Julieta Venegas.

---
The XX’s I See You is an adorable homage to 1980s synth-pop artists like Alison Moyet and the Human League.

---
I’m glad for my friends who are excited about Radiohead’s return to Kansas City on April 5.  An even more promising performance of forward-thinking sounds will take place at the Folly Theater on April 7.  The quartet of Donny McCaslin, Jason Lindner, Tim Lefebvre and Mark Guiliana act as convincing jazz ambassadors in a recent Tiny Desk Concert.

---
Bonobo updates smooth jazz on the impressive Migration.  RIYL: Bob James, hot tubs, John Klemmer.

---
Sepultura’s Machine Messiah isn’t just another perfunctory genre exercise.  RIYL: Pantera, rage, Kreator.

---
Who needs the parody act Steel Panther when Grave Digger is still producing unironic gems like ”Healed By Metal”?

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hale Mary


Either I’m suffering from a severe case of Stockholm syndrome or a band I once loathed has dramatically improved.  Halestorm’s 2009 breakout hit “I Get Off” turned my stomach at the time.  The first few of the six or seven times I worked their concerts were dismal experiences.  Things have changed.  Not only would I now gladly purchase a ticket to a Halestorm concert with my own money, I’ve been listening to the group’s new covers EP for pleasure.  Whitesnake never sounded so good.  (Send help.)


---
I touted Lincoln Marshall on KCUR this week.

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

---
I documented my visit to a cocktail lounge on the Plaza at Plastic Sax.

---
Nat Hentoff has died.

---
I’m glad No Plan exists, but most of the new David Bowie EP isn’t nearly as good as Blackstar.

---
Renée Fleming's Distant Light is a lovely adventure.

---
Dale Watson and Ray Benson’s new duet album is charming.  RIYL: Willie Nelson’s countless duet albums, old coots, Texas.

---
Spotify’s bots earned their keep when they tipped me to Courtney Marie Andrews’ Honest Life.  RIYL: Iris Dement, The Last Waltz, Mimi Fariña.

---
Robert Glasper is featured in what may be the  best episode of “What’s In My Bag?”

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Concert Review: Pure Disgust at the Encore Room


I was out for blood on Wednesday.  Not having attended a proper all-ages punk event since last summer, I wanted to taste danger and smell teen spirit at the show at the Encore Room headlined by the consequential Washington D.C. based hardcore band Pure Disgust

During its best moments, the abrasive jamboree looked and sound a lot like this. Shuttlecock documented the evening with a photo set.

After paying the $8 cover charge, I joined a distressingly meager audience of about 75 (including the members of the five bands and their significant others) as Agent made a racket on the low-slung stage of the venue adjacent to the Uptown Theater.  The band’s defiant slovenliness and the blood smeared on the face of the front man put me in mind of Sex Pistols.  The amateurish insolence of The Drippies evoked Sorry Ma-era the Replacements.

Incomprehensibly loud, Blindside’s set sounded like a plague of locusts descending on a bowling alley.  With my ears blown out by Blindside, I only managed to track Pure Disgust’s surprisingly nimble rhythm section during the quintet’s exciting but abrupt set.


---
I yakked about Isaac Cates & Ordained on KCUR yesterday.

---
My selections are among The Kansas City Star’s compilation of Top Albums of 2016 lists.

---
I previewed Andy McKee’s concert at the Bottleneck for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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

---
I reviewed a concert by the Floozies, Autograf and Linear Symmetry in December. 

---
I felt thousands of brain cells dying horrible deaths as I listened to Chief Keef’s Two Zero One Seven- and I enjoyed the sensation.  I won’t argue with anyone who insists that the first important rap mixtape of 2017 is infantile trash, but a willingness to get stupid has long been an integral component of the form’s history.

---
The late George Michael was the Justin Timberlake of the late 1980s.  The pop star’s unexpectedly wonderful album Faith received an inordinate amount of spins in my home in 1987 and 1988.

---
The jazz fusion giant Alphonse Mouzon has died.

---
Bobby Previte’s Mass is recommended if you like Bill Laswell, noble but failed experiments, Black Sabbath.

---
I like what J. Cole is trying to do.  I just wish he did it better.  4 Your Eyez Only is RIYL thoughful hip-hop, Big Sean, maudlin raps.

---
Quality control is an issue on Whale Mafi 2, Rich the Factor’s fifth album in nine months.

---
Kindred the Family Soul’s Legacy of Love is RIYL the Isley Brothers, love, Ashford & Simpson.

---
Hey!  Van Der Graaf Generation releaseed a new album last year.  RIYL: Soft Machine, lovable geezers, Kevin Ayers.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)