Thursday, August 17, 2017

Throw Your Hands in the Air

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


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

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

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

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

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I featured Soul Revival on my weekly KCUR segment.

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

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 10, 2017

You Run Your Mouth, I'll Run My Business


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


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

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

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

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I featured Bloodstone in my weekly segment on KCUR.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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

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Barbara Cook has died.

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DL Menard has died.

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

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

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

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

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

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Hey, John Scofield is pretty good.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, August 03, 2017

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

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


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

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I featured Mac Lethal in my weekly KCUR segment.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Numero Group will release a Jackie Shane compilation in October.

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

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)