Monday, April 23, 2018

So What


The new boxed set The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6 documents the death knell of jazz as a form of popular music.  Months after Miles Davis’ sublime Kind of Blue and John Coltrane’s monumental Giant Steps were released, the jazz titans toured Europe with pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb.

Eager audiences expected to hear a unified band firing on all cylinders.  The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6 is the sound of disappointment.  A press release insists that the 220-minute collection showcases the “musical chemistry shared by Miles and Trane.”  What a laugh!

Davis and Coltrane are clearly at odds with one another.  Coltrane’s connection with the rhythm section is even shakier.  I’m on #teamtrane, but I understand how Coltrane’s lengthy and often dissonant solos could be construed as selfish grandstanding.  The band’s unwillingness or inability to respond with a corresponding sense of exploration is cringe-inducing.

The clearly audible responses of enraged fans seem misguided in hindsight, but the auspiciousness of the participants places these sessions among the most significant breaches of jazz’s accord with the general public.


---
I consider suburban jazz at Plastic Sax.

---
Avicii has died.

---
“Groomed By the Block” is the best track on Kontra-Band, a collaboration between the Kansas City rappers Stevie Stone and JL.

---
Kandace Springs reveals her supper club inclinations on the three-song Black Orchid.  RIYL: Diana Ross, formal wear, Dionne Warwick.  Here’s the title track.

---
I like J. Cole as a person but I don’t particularly care for his music.  Most of KOD is insufferable.

---
Sorrows & Triumphs may be too much of a good thing.  Edward Simon’s latest effort features a large cast of ringers including Brian Blade, Imani Winds, David Binney and Gretchen Parlato.  The result is aggravatingly fussy.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Album Review: E-40 and B-Legit- Connected and Respected

The Bay Area legend E-40 is responsible for some of the most outlandish music in hip-hop history.  Connected and Respected, a new album created with his cousin B-Legit, is worthy of his legacy.  The project’s funk is so elastic that the gangster theme on tracks including “Meet the Dealers” and “Boy” seem like harmless fun.  E-40’s hyperbolic flow and the gruff raps of B-Legit act as a relentless lyrical tag team on the compelling glorification of nefarious street life.


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

---
The Kansas City Jazz Calendar continues to evolve.

---
Randy Scruggs has died.

---
Lakecia Benjamin’s Rise Up is so gratifying that I don’t even object to the rendition of the Babyface/Eric Clapton hit “Change the World.”  A invigorating blend of smooth jazz, gospel, soul-jazz, hip-hop and R&B, Rise Up is my idea of a good time.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Album Review: Sly & Robbie and Nils Petter Molvaer- Nordub


I’m at the center of the tiny target audience for Nordub, an unlikely collaboration between the reggae innovators Sly & Robbie and the jazz trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer.  There can’t be more than a few thousand people who appreciate deep Jamaican dub and experimental Norwegian jazz.  Yet Nordub deserves an audience beyond a handful of oddball music obsessives.  The album’s colossal sonic landscape would appeal to admirers of Miles Davis’ electric bands as well as to intrepid listeners eager to hear the sound of tomorrow today.


---
I reviewed a concert by Bill Frisell, Thomas Morgan and Rudy Royston at Plastic Sax.

---
Proper appreciation of most Kool Keith-related projects requires being in the right frame of mind.  Dr. Octagon’s Moosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation is no different.  Here’s the gloriously absurd “Flying Waterbeds”.

---
I didn’t care for the 2014 duet album by Nels Cline and Julian Lage, but bassist Scott Colley and drummer Tom Rainey add enormous excitement to the guitarists’ Currents, Constellations release.  Here’s “Imperfect 10”.

---
Sarah Shook & the Disarmers’ Years is a modest alt-country album that could have been released by Bloodshot Records in 1998.  RIYL: the Bottle Rockets, bottom shelf whiskey, the Meat Purveyors.  Here’s “Good as Gold”.

---
Dave Douglas & Joe Lovano Sound Prints combine their enormous talents on Scandal, a post-bop quintet date that I wish was just a couples notches further outside.

---
Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy rivals Migos’ Culture II as my favorite party album of 2018.

---
Rafiq Bhatia’s Breaking English is a worthy progressive noise album.

---
The Aruán Ortiz Trio’s Live in Zurich provides additional evidence that the pianist is a genius.  RIYL: Thelonious Monk, giants hiding in plain sight, Craig Taborn.

---
While Kurt Elling’s performances never fail to impress, his albums have never done much for me- until now.  The adult pop effort The Questions is like a marriage of Joni Mitchell and Frank Sinatra. 

(Original image at There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Toni, Chanté and I


The durability of my marriage may be my greatest achievement.  I’m an extraordinarily lucky man, but successful long term relationships don’t happen by accident.

The love songs written and performed by mature musicians, consequently, resonate more deeply as I age.  Partly because it was released a few months before I married, Womack & Womack’s Conscious is one of my primary reference points for enlightened R&B.  I longed for- and succeeded in obtaining- the domestic bliss depicted on the album’s cover.  Two veteran soul singers reach for that lofty height on their recent releases.

Chanté Moore croons that “we grow different, as long as we don’t grow distant” on the opening selection of 1 of 4.   That’s the sort of truism that reflects my hard-won experience.  She adds that “we can make each other stay better if we just love” on the sultry “One Love.”  Four of the five tracks are savvy explorations of steadfast commitment.

Toni Braxton is far less content on Sex & Cigarettes.  The velvet-voiced star drops an f-bomb on the furious “FOH” and rages that “you’re not who you said you are” on “Sorry.”  Sex & Cigarettes isn’t  as compelling as her recent work with Babyface, but it’s an interesting examination of a form of middle-aged heartache that I’ve been blessed not to have experienced.


---
I created a five-minute audio feature about Mackenzie Nicole for KCUR.

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

---
I reviewed the Anat Cohen Tentet’s concert at the Gem Theater at Plastic Sax.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Concert Review: Radar State and Jake Wells at the Homegrown Music Showcase


The promotional might of the #13 radio station in the Kansas City market and a nominal $5 cover for appearances by two dozen locally-based indie-leaning bands attracted just a few hundred people to 96.5 The Buzz’s Homegrown Music Showcase in the Power & Light District on Saturday afternoon.  The light attendance made bouncing between six stages a breeze during during the 150 minutes I spent at the event.  Two acts I hadn’t previously seen perform caught my attention.

The so-called supergroup Radar State played for a few dozen people who braved the chilly conditions at the outdoor stage in the courtyard of the entertainment district.  The grizzled veterans of the Anniversary, the Get Up Kids and the Architects sound precisely like their auspicious lineages would suggest. 

Unfortunately, the quartet’s punchy three-minute songs were mangled by an abysmal mix.  A friend quipped that an inaudible guitar solo “looks like it sounds amazing.”  The band’s amusing banter between songs, consequently, was as appealing as its music.  After noting that his daughter was a fan of the California group Mom Jeans, Matt Pryor suggested that Radar State might be renamed Dad Jokes.

I still don’t have a handle on Jake Wells even after catching his entire set at McFadden’s Sport Saloon.  Is he the next Ray LaMontagne?  A low-rent Amos Lee?  An indifferent party bro who happens to possess a wonderful voice?  Beats me.  The indeterminate set by Wells and an overeager band included his minor hit “Rolls Like Thunder”, a tiresome cover of Oasis’ “Wonderwall,” a funny interpretation of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” and a delightful reading of Lupe Fiasco’s “Superstar.”

(Original image of Radar State by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, April 06, 2018

Cecil Taylor, 1929-2018


Many advocates of jazz laud the polite sophistication that’s often associated with the form.  Not me.  I first embraced jazz as a disaffected teen in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.  Artists who possessed the same sort of disruptive energy, outrageous personas and penchant for abrasiveness as cutting-edge rock and R&B musicians provided my entry point into the music.  Aggressive new releases by Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra and the Art Ensemble of Chicago thrilled me almost as much as the latest innovations by the likes of Prince, Talking Heads, Rick James, the Clash and the Gap Band.  Only later did I come to appreciate the uptown elegance of Duke Ellington and the subtle beauty of Bill Evans.  My primary allegiance will always be with the noisy daredevils of jazz.  Taylor died yesterday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Concert Review: Emancipator at the Crystal Ballroom


I experienced an irregularity in the space-time continuum at Portland’s Crystal Ballroom last week.  Thick secondhand vape smoke and the bewildering elasticity of the dancefloor helped convince me that I was attending a Shadowfax concert in 1984 instead of an Emancipator show in 2018.  Each so-called ambient trip-hop song performed by a quintet led by Emancipator bandleader Doug Appling seemed little different from a dusty New Age jam.  My bout with astral projection still seems real several days later.  After all, it’s inconceivable that 1,500 status-conscious Oregonians with a median age of 25 would purchase $22 tickets to hear tranquilizing lullabies in the vein of Shadowfax, John Tesh and Yanni in 2018.


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

---
I recently featured Howard Iceberg and The Project H on KCUR.

---
I reviewed Charles Williams’ Flavors of Jazz album at Plastic Sax.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Quarterly Report: The Top Albums, Songs and Concerts of 2018 (So Far)


The Top Albums of 2018 (So Far)
1. Black Panther the Album
2. Ben Miller Band- Choke Cherry Tree
3. Logan Richardson- Blues People
4. Migos- Culture II
5. Rhye- Woman
6. Hailu Mergia- Lala Belu
7. August Greene- August Greene
8. Meshell Ndegeocello- Ventriloquism
9. David Murray and Saul Williams- Blues for Memo
10. Sons of Kemet- Your Queen Is a Reptile


The Top Songs of 2018 (So Far)
1. Janelle Monaé- “Make Me Feel”
2. J Balvin featuring Jeon and Anitta- “Machika”
3. Sa-Roc- “Forever”
4. Tech N9ne- “Don’t Nobody Want None”
5. Chris Dave and the Drumhedz featuring Anderson Paak- “Black Hole”
6. Soulive- “King’s March”
7. Danielle Nicole- “Cry No More”
8. Courtney Barnett- “Nameless, Faceless”
9. Turnstile- “Generator”
10. Orchestra Akokán- “Un Tabaco para Elegua”


The Top Concerts of 2018 (So Far)
1. Ryan Keberle & Catharsis- Black Dolphin
2. Protomartyr- Zanzabar (Louisville)
3. Cyrille Aimée- Folly Theater
4. Pink- Sprint Center
5. Atmosphere- VooDoo
6. Drive-By Truckers- Truman
7. Los Texmaniacs with Flaco Jiménez- KC Folk Fest
8. Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s “Rigoletto”- Muriel Kauffman Theater
9. Lola Pistola- Riot Room
10. Low Cut Connie- Doug Fir Lounge (Portland)

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Concert Review: Atmosphere and Evidence at VooDoo

Evidence affirmed the hip-hop hierarchy of the evening during the first song he performed at VooDoo on Saturday by noting that “I’m Rhymesayers' number three under Slug and Ali.”  Slug is half of the headlining act Atmosphere.  Brother Ali is his supremely talented stablemate at Rhymesayers, the Minneapolis record label that has issued more than a dozen classic hip-hop albums since its formation in 1995.

Evidence, a member of the California hip-hop group Dilated Peoples that’s best known for the 2004 song “This Way”, was riveting in a 45-minute opening set.  He has enough bars to supply an expansion of the penitentiary in Leavenworth.  An unrecorded list of tips for less polished performers that included drinking room temperature water, not allowing your crew to join you on stage and the proper way to stage dive (a feat he perfectly executed) provided one of the evening’s most memorable moments.  Most of the audience of about 1,000- a crowd that Slug characterized as “a bunch of dirty, stinky, white people”- didn’t know what to make of Evidence and only responded enthusiastically to his weed references.

Slug, Ant and Plain Ole Bill performed songs about suicide, self-loathing, domestic violence and hangovers for 90 minutes.  Slug was his usual outrageous self.  He claimed that “the only thing I like to do more than masturbate is bust rhymes and freestyle” and suggested that there “ain’t nothin’ like a broken bottle to the face to put put a (batterer of women) on the right path.”  I felt “sick and contradictive” as I joined communal rap-alongs to “GodLovesUgly,” “Guarantees” and “Trying To Find a Balance,” harrowing songs that redefined the scope and meaning of Midwestern hip-hop.

Atmosphere’s sound hasn’t changed much since the release of its 1997 debut album Overcast.  Once cutting-edge, Ant’s soul-soaked production and Slug’s confessional lyrics are now part of hip-hop’s rearguard.  XXXTentacion, the rapper who is expected to have the top album in the country this week, is 25 years younger than Slug.  The controversial upstart rejects everything about hip-hop that Atmosphere fans hold dear.

The sudden realization that the once-subversive Atmosphere and Evidence had somehow become old-school traditionalists devastated me.  I'd inadvertently paid $35 to attend an oldies concert.  When Slug asked “who’s your favorite rapper” during a duet with Evidence on “Powder Cocaine” in the encore, I was too rattled to respond.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Album Review: Snoop Dogg Presents Bible of Love


Bible of Love restores a good portion of the respect I’ve lost for Snoop Dogg in recent years.  The 134-minute gospel album counteracts the embarrassing buffoonery for which he’s become known.  Not surprisingly, Snoop doesn’t appear on the best selections.  The life-affirming “Come as You Are” features the gospel luminaries Mary Mary and Marvin Sapp.  Faith Evans’ lead vocals on “Saved” offer spiritual redemption.  The vibrant contributions of notable vocalists including Kim Burrell, Daz Dillinger (!), Patti LaBelle, Fred Hammond and Charlie Wilson  prevent the lengthy Bible of Love from becoming a slog.  Snoop pops on up songs including Rance Allen’s “Blessing Me Again”, but only on the closing track “Words Are Few” does he get in the way of the rapturous message.


---
I featured Reggie and the Full Effect in my weekly segment on KCUR.

---
Hours after railing against nostalgia in the previous There Stands the Glass post, I was floored by Meshell Ndegeocello’s Ventriloquism.  The stunning collection of covers of pop-leaning ‘80s and ‘90s R&B songs was love at first listen.  An ingenious reading of TLC’s “Waterfalls” typifies her incredibly smart but not excessively clever approach.

---
I’ve been predisposed to dislike Nathaniel Rateliff since his breakout hit- an exploitative gospel goof that bugs the bejeezus out of me- began befouling the airwaves in 2015.  Even so, Rateliff & the Night Sweats won me over the first time I saw the band.  I begrudgingly acknowledge that the ensemble’s soulful new album Tearing at the Seams is a worthy successor to Van Morrison’s classic His Band and the Street Choir and Bruce Springsteen’s epic The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle.

---
The members of Cameo would surely approve of the four sweet sticky things on Jeremih’s The Chocolate Box EP.  Here’s “Nympho”.

---
While I’d prefer that much of Transparent Water didn’t sound like first-take improvisations, the collaboration between Cuban pianist Omar Sosa and the Senegalese kora master Seckou Keita is gorgeous.

---
The aesthetically pure punk label Dischord has issued an album of ostentatious guitar shredding.  Backed by the Fugazi rhythm section of Joe Lally and Brendan Canty, guitarist Anthony Pirog makes like Joe Satriani on The Messthetics.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Recycled Sounds


Nostalgia is for suckers.  Predilections for the past can be emotionally crippling.  The disorder applies to musical preferences.  I’m inclined to distance myself from people who suggest that the music of today is inferior to the sounds of the past.  Against my nature, I’ve spent recent days begrudgingly appreciating three albums that induce repressed memories.

I cringed when an acquaintance proclaimed the Breeders’ All Nerve as his favorite album of 2018.  The disconcerting confession compelled me to give it a chance.  It’s not bad.  “Wait in the Car” is among the songs that help make All Nerve sound like the eighth-best alternative rock album of 1993.

Progger appeals to my worst musical impulses.  I allowed myself to pine for the mid-’70s days when the big brothers of my pals turned me on to since-forsaken jazz fusion bands like Brand X, Curved Air and Lifetime while listening to “Housewives” on the Austin band’s new album Dystopia.

I documented my single favorite sound in this space last month, so it’s not a surprise that I was eager to sample the expanded edition of the soul revivalists Durand Jones & the Indications’ self-titled album.  The ten live tracks demonstrate that Jones and his band simulate the atmosphere of a 1965 frat party featuring the likes of Joe Tex or Eddie Floyd.

Now excuse me while I go back to obsessing over my presumptive album of the year.


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

---
I reviewed Everyday, Forever, the latest album by the Project H, at Plastic Sax.

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

---
Matt Dike, a co-founder of Delicious Vinyl, has died.

---
Bill Frisell’s solo album Music Is includes pastoral elegies and big city meltdowns.  Even though I haven’t heard all of the guitarist’s three dozen albums, I'm comfortable with the assertion that Music Is is among his ten most essential recordings. Here’s “Rambler”.

---
The title of the Gumba Fire: Bubblegum Soul & Synth Boogie in 1980s South Africa compilation is perfect.  Hearing the sounds of groups like Shalamar, the Gap Band and the Whispers filtered through a South African sensibility is worlds of fun.  (Tip via Big Steve.)

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Album Review: Brad Mehldau- After Bach


Brad Mehldau is the Keith Jarrett of his generation.  Much as Jarrett hoodwinked admirers into listening to extended freeform piano improvisations in the 1970s, Mehldau’s iconoclastic approach has transformed the perception of jazz piano in the new millennium.  I’m selectively sipping the Kool-Aid.  I loathed the project Mehldau and Chris Thile released last year.  Even though I suspect I’m being duped, the new album After Bach transfixes me.  Here’s “After Bach: Rondo”.


---
I extolled Joyce DiDonato in my weekly feature for KCUR.

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

---
Here’s a reminder that I maintain the comprehensive Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

---
Craig Mack has died.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Album Review: Young Fathers- Cocoa Sugar


Cocoa Sugar doesn’t bump in my whip.  It doesn’t do much through my headphones either.  Young Fathers’ new release is among my most highly anticipated albums of 2018.  I don’t like it.  The Scottish group downplays hip-hop elements on its third album in favor of precious indie-rock embellishments.  I once rejected the frequent comparisons to TV On the Radio that hounded the Scottish trio, but the correlation is obvious on Cocoa Sugar.  (Caveat: I reserve the right to change my mind.)


---
I reviewed a concert by the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra at Plastic Sax.

---
Valee’s 14-minute Good Job, You Found Me is pure evil.  The lyrics are reprehensible and the flow is derivative.  So why can’t I stop listening?  It’s the beats, stupid.  Pusha T pops off on “Miami”.

---
Nubya Garcia’s new single “When We Are” has me on #teamnubya.  RIYL: Courtney Pine, optimism, Eddie Moore & the Outer Circle.

---
Automata 1, Between the Buried and Me’s latest riff-tastic effort, surpasses the recent work of Mastodon.  Here’s “Millions”.

---
I’m struggling to hear what the cool kids find so captivating about Soccer Mommy’s Clean.  RIYL: Blake Babies, retreads, Liz Phair.  Here’s “Your Dog”.

---
Henry Cow lives!  The kids in the British jazz group Dinosaur made a wacky music video that evokes the forgotten experimental rock ensemble.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, March 09, 2018

Concert Review: The Lyric Opera’s “Rigoletto”


Eager to savor the invigorating night at the opera I’d enjoyed the previous evening, I watched a 2008 production of “Rigoletto” filmed at Semperoper in Dresden via Amazon Prime on Thursday.  I didn’t know what I’d been missing. 

Exposed flesh!  Surrealistic stage sets!  And best of all, Juan Diego Flórez’s glorious mullet!

The Lyric Opera’s interpretation of Giuseppe Verdi’s work enthralled me, but the Dresden production makes it seem stodgy.  I considered buying another $35.50 ticket to see the three-hour production again as I exited Muriel Kauffman Theatre on Wednesday.  Now that I know the way it went down in Germany ten years ago, that prospect is much less appealing. 

As Rigoletto would shout, “la maledizione!”

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Album Review: August Greene


I love everything about August Greene’s self-titled debut album.  Well, almost everything.  Common’s lyrics are occasionally too corny even by my sentimental standards.  And a background vocalist’s pitch seems slightly off.  My instantaneous embrace of the project is hardly a surprise.  I’ve long adored the veteran rapper, the genre-busting keyboardist Robert Glasper and the imaginative drummer Karriem Riggins.  Working as August Greene, they create a sublime blend of jazz, soul and hip-hop that’s situated at the exact center of my wheelhouse.  The group’s Tiny Desk Concert is divine.


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

---
I named Brewer & Shipley the KCUR Band of the Week.

---
Russ Solomon has died.  I reported directly to the retail titan during a particularly perilous segment of my career in the music distribution industry.  Solomon’s fearlessness was inspiring, his guile was masterful and his frequent displays of kindness never failed to motivate me.

---
Tracey Thorn’s Record is wonderful.  RIYL: Everything But the Girl, Brit-pop circa 1986, Pet Shop Boys.  Here’s “Sister”.

---
Lucy Dacus’ breathlessly hyped Historian merits much of the acclaim.  RIYL: Eliza Carthy, the flavor of the week, Fairport Convention.  Here’s “Addictions”.

---
A bygone Moroccan band’s deranged interpretation of “Für Elise” makes me proud to be an Earthling.

---
Dayramir González attempts to condense the entire history of Cuban jazz into the 72-minute The Grand Concourse.  The manic release is recommended if you like Cachao, Benny Moré and Irakere.

---
Alfredo Rodríguez’s The Little Dream is completely over the top.  RIYL: Lionel Loueke, Cuba, Pat Metheny at his most excessive.

---
Seun Kuti does right by his father on Black Times.  Femi Kuti’s One People One World is slightly less formidable.

---
The Andy Sheppard Quartet’s wispy Romaria is elegant sonic wallpaper.  RIYL: music for hangovers, John Surman, clouds.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Van McLain, R.I.P.

Van McLain, the primary artistic force of Shooting Star, has died.  The most successful rock band to emerge from Kansas City in the 1980s, Shooting Star was also exceedingly unfashionable.

A stylistic holdover from the classic rock era dominated by Midwestern bands like Styx, Kansas, Head East and REO Speedwagon, Shooting Star played outmoded pomp-prog in the age of Talking Heads, the Clash and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.

Even so, Shooting Star songs including “Last Chance,” “Bring It On” and “Hang On For Your Life” were championed by radio stations like KSHE in St. Louis and KY102 in Kansas City.

I had a complicated professional relationship with McLain.  He and I rarely saw eye-to-eye, but he always behaved honorably.  He sings lead on the uncharacteristically poppy “You’ve Got What I Need”, my favorite Shooting Star song.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, March 02, 2018

Concert Review: Protomartyr at Zanzabar


Joe Casey was in a wistful mood at Zanzabar on Thursday.  The front man of Protomartyr recalled that “we were paid in quarters to play pinball” the first time his Detroit band appeared at the Louisville arcade, beer hall and music venue.  Protomartyr’s riveting performance last night merited far more than chump change.

Several college professor-types and old-school crust-punks mixed with the usual indie-rock scenesters in the audience of about 125.  The cover charge was $15.  Casey toted three cans of PBR to the stage.  The beer presumably helped him sustain his strident bark.  He’s often compared to the late Mark E. Smith of the Fall, but last night Casey resembled an agitator giving a rousing speech at a union rally.

The pontificating made me realize that Protomartyr’s post-punk attack is almost incidental.  Casey would be no less effective working in a dub-reggae format or with an avant-garde jazz ensemble.  That’s not to suggest that guitarist Greg Ahee, bassist Scott Davidson and drummer Alex Leonard aren’t satisfactory rock musicians.  They’re excellent.  Even so, it’s telling that Casey is the only member of Protomartyr armed with a microphone.

Deflecting applause at the start of the encore, Casey suggested “we’re not that good.”  On a night filled with clever feints and willful deceptions, the statement was the only outright lie.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Album Review: Hailu Mergia- Lala Belu


Friday wasn’t going well.  A couple setbacks put me in a foul mood that even a plethora of new music releases couldn’t remedy.  As I began to prepare for sleep at the end of the disappointing day, I auditioned one last album.  The dark clouds in my head dissipated five minutes into “Tizita,” the opening track of Hailu Mergia’s Lala Belu.

I’d just read The New York Times’s profile of Mergia that explained that the Ethiopian musician was now a cabdriver in Washington D.C.  The guy behind Awesome Tapes From Africa tracked Mergia down and recorded Lala Belu with him.  It’s a cool story, but I still wasn’t expecting much.  I was mistaken.

The life-affirming Lala Belu sounds as if the Ethiopian icon Mulatu Astatke is jamming with the jazz luminaries Charles Mingus and Robert Glasper.  Simultaneously old, new, African and American, the album is a potent sonic salve.


---
I reviewed Logan Richardson’s Blues People at Plastic Sax.

---
I featured David George in my weekly segment for KCUR.

---
Cry No More, the second solo album by Kansas City blues-rock luminary Danielle Nicole, puts me in mind of the classic 1970s work of Delaney & Bonnie.  The title track is the second-best song on the new release.

---
I’m as excited as everyone else about Janelle Monáe’s new songs “Django Jane” and “Make Me Feel”.

---
I don’t begrudge Dessa for making crass pop moves on Chime.  It’s ridiculous that the enormously talented Doomtree standout isn’t already a household name.  I hope Chime makes her a star, but I’m not going to spend much time listening to the slick bid for mainstream acceptance.  RIYL: Madonna, commerce, Gwen Stefani.  Here’s “Half of You”.

---
I still mourn Lou Reed.  I might even miss Mark E. Smith of the Fall someday.  But I’ll be damned if Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest doesn’t prove himself to be a worthy heir of those innovators on Twin Fantasy.  Here’s “Nervous Young Inhumans”.

---
Noah Preminger is on a roll.  Genuinity, the most recent in a string of impressive albums by the New York based saxophonist, is RIYL Ornette Coleman, jazz emancipation, Rudresh Mahanthappa.

---
While the contents aren’t as interesting as the title, Leslie Pintchik’s You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl! is a better-than-average mainstream jazz album.  RIYL: Bill Charlap, accordion flourishes, Matt Wilson.

---
Black Milk’s Fever is decent, I guess.  RIYL: Dwele, good enough, Oddisee.  Here’s “Laugh Now Cry Later”.

---
A couple tracks on Soulive’s instrumental EP Cinematics Vol. 1 are spectacular.  RIYL: Booker T. & the M.G.'s, imaginary soundtracks, Badbadnotgood.

---
They still make ‘em like they used to.  Even the cover art of the new recording by baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan’s Alternative Contrafacts is straight out of 1974.  The dated packaging is belied by the freshness of the music.  Bassist David Wong and drummer Rodney Green push Smulyan into wooly terrain.  RIYL: Harry Carney, unexpected treasures, Hamiet Bluiett.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Continental Drift


Jazz fans are familiar with the concept of big band battles.  I’m intrigued by the unofficial jazz clash between Europe and North America.  Based on my listening habits in recent months, my money’s on Europe.

Three new releases by European pianists illustrative the point.  Each is more imaginative and engaging than the efforts of most of their American counterparts.  Tigran Hamasyan is one of the most exciting musicians of the moment.  The Armenian pianist’s 29-minute For Gyumri possesses improvisational daring, melodic charm and a vast sonic range.

The septuagenarian Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson demonstrates that it’s still possible to make the conventional jazz trio format seem fresh on Contra la Indecisión.   Elliot Galvin, an impudent British talent, conveys funny jazz jokes on the deeply amusing The Influencing Machine.  I’m eager for Americans to rise to the challenge.


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

---
I’ll feature David George on my weekly KCUR segment tomorrow.

---
I reviewed Cyrille Aimée’s concert at the Folly Theater for Plastic Sax.

---
The Kansas City rock musician Billy Johnson has died.

---
I barely survived Mary Chapin Carpenter’s morose headlining set at the Kansas City Folk Festival.  To paraphrase the eminent philosopher Chief Keef, that’s that stuff I don’t like.  To be fair, following the jubilant set of Los Texmaniacs and Flaco Jiménez’s party music would have been a challenge for anyone.  Kalyn Fay, an Oklahoman Cherokee singer-songwriter, was my find of the day.

---
An in-store performance by the soul revivalist and roots-rock newcomer Liz Brasher thrilled me last week.  Here’s “Cold Baby”.

---
Sa-Roc’s self-empowerment anthem “Forever” is persuasive.  RIYL: Lizzo, appreciating “exactly who you are,” Brother Ali.

---
I realize it makes me little different than an awful 13-year-old boy, but the novelty of countertenor vocalists still amuses me.  Even so, I’m awed by Franco Fagioli’s Handel Arias.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Classical Gas


My world wasn’t instantly transformed when I impulsively purchased a promotional copy of Philip Glass’ North Star for $1 as a teenager.  My unseasoned ears couldn’t process the work of the minimalist composer.  What initially struck me as impossibly cold and foreign now sounds warm and familiar.  The propulsive portions of Pulse/Quartet, a lively rendering of two works by Glass’ peer Steve Reich, put me in mind of North Star.  I’m immediately smitten this time around.


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

---
I named Olivia Fox the KCUR Band of the Week.

---
Recently at Plastic Sax: Ozark jazz, a weekly survey of Kansas City’s jazz scene and a report from an Ornette Coleman symposium.

---
Crooner Vic Damone has died.

---
The country artist Daryle Singletary has died.

---
I was one of six people at Lola Pistola’s show in Kansas City this week.  I didn’t buy any merch, but I 'll donate a somewhat misleading new tagline to the artist: “Patti Smith with a Puerto Rican accent.”

---
Intermediate State, a 20-minute EP of Ethiopian jazz by the Belgian group Black Flower, is wondrously transportive. 

---
If I were to become a Lyft driver, GoGo Penguin’s A Humdrum Star might provide the soundtrack to my midnight shift.  The cosmopolitan but ultimately vacuous fusion of jazz and electronica would create a tip-oriented tone for my clients.

---
I realize it’s hypocritical to deride derivative bands like Greta Van Fleet while praising the recycling of Fu Manchu.  My primary defense of Clone of the Universe hinges on the epic 18-minute closing track.  Here’s the title track.

---
Third-rate Roxy Music, anyone?

---
J Dilla lives!  The Jefferson Park Boys play dreamy Dilla-esque jazz on Casual Horns, Dog.

---
Nightfall, the hushed pairing of trumpeter Till Brönner and bassist Dieter Ilg, is gorgeous.  Here’s “A Thousand Kisses Deep”.

---
While it’s not the least bit titillating, the Fifty Shades Freed soundtrack is a handy survey of modern pop. 

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Review: Black Panther: The Album


I don't patronize movie theaters.  Staring at a screen in a dark room doesn’t appeal to me, partially because there’s an endless supply of live and recorded music I could be processing instead.  I may never see Black Panther, but I’ve had the soundtrack on repeat all weekend.  It’s the Kendrick Lamar album I hadn’t expected.  Not only does he dominate the mixtape-like soundtrack, K. Dot sounds like he’s having fun.  Unlike his mercenary turns with Taylor Swift and Maroon 5, Lamar seems entirely at home on the pop-laced project.  The first single is my least favorite song.  The tracks with hip-hop royalty including Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Future, Vince Staples, Schoolboy Q and 2 Chainz are instant classics.  Lamar does, in fact, “live on ten.”


---
I wrote and narrated a five-minute feature about the Kansas City jazz musician Stan Kessler for KCUR.

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

---
I highlighted Julia Othmer in my weekly Band of the Week segment for KCUR.

---
I lauded a momentous concert by Ryan Keberle & Catharsis at Plastic Sax.

---
Composer Jóhann Jóhannsson has died.  It’s a tremendous loss.  I documented my passion for his music at There Stands the Glass in 2012 and 2016.

---
Dennis Edwards of the Temptations has died.  I’ve always adored his solo hit “Don’t Look Any Further”.

---
Cabaret vocalist Wesla Whitfield has died.

---
Hip-hop pioneer Lovebug Starski has died.

---
I haven’t been truly enthused about a new Tech N9ne release in a few years.  The initial singles “Bad Juju” and “Don’t Nobody Want One” indicate that his next album will focus on the elements that once made him exceptional.

---
There’s nothing worse than contrived jazz poetry.  Affected jive voices make me cringe.  Backed by the all-star band of saxophone titan David Murray, pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Jaribu Shahid and drummer Nasheet Waits, the spoken word artist Saul Williams sidesteps the pitfalls of the form on the vital Blues for Memo.

---
Sports journalists often speak of narrow defeats as good losses.  That’s how I feel about Bigyuki’s latest synthesis of jazz, R&B and electronic music.   Reaching for Chiron is RIYL Thundercat, moral victories, Bilal.  Here’s “Eclipse”.

---
FaltyDL’s galvanizing Three Rooms transports me to a terrifying place.  RIYL: rubber rooms, dancing as bombs drop, straightjackets.

---
Just as I can’t listen to Mount Eerie’s devastating A Crow Looked At Me, I can’t handle the raw pain documented on Mary Gauthier’s Rifles and Rosary Beads.  Here’s “Bullet Holes in the Sky”.  RIYL: depression, Dave Van Ronk, PTSD.

---
The James Hunter Six’s Whatever It Takes is RIYL Jackie Wilson, all vintage everything, Amy Winehouse.  Here’s “I Don’t Wanna Be Without You”.

---
Wanna make out?  I have the perfect soundtrack cued up.  Woman, the seductive new album by Rhye, is the best Sade album since 1988’s Stronger Than Pride.  Here’s “Count To Five”.

---
Mopo is a wild-eyed Finnish jazz trio.  Mopocalypse is RIYL Moon Hooch, dancing, Galactic.  Here’s "Tökkö".

---
The more I listen to H.C. McEntire’s Lionheart, the less I like it.  RIYL Emmylou Harris, melancholy, Kacey Musgraves.  Here’s “Quartz in the Valley”.

---
The good stuff on Lonnie Smith’s All In My Mind is capable of inducing altered states.  Alas, it’s not all good.  RIYL: Dr. John, organ jazz, Pharoah Sanders.

---
God bless John Prine.

---
Julian Lage’s Modern Lore is a loopy surprise.  RIYL: Chet Atkins, smiling, Les Paul.  Here’s “Roger the Dodger”.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, February 09, 2018

Album Review: Stax Singles, Volume 4: Rarities & the Best of the Rest


What’s the best music the United States produced in the 20th century?  Candidates range from the songs forged at Tin Pan Alley in the early 1900s to the New York raps of Nas and Jay-Z in the ‘90s.  While I wouldn’t bicker with anyone who nominated Aaron Copland’s compositions, the salsa issued by Fania Records, Hank Williams’ pain songs, prime Kansas City swing, Meters-driven New Orleans funk or ferocious Chicago blues, my favorite sound is the earthy Memphis soul documented by Stax Records.

Released today, the six-disc boxed set Stax Singles, Volume 4: Rarities & the Best of the Rest contains a treasure trove of some of the finest music of the last 100 years.

The first three discs are essential for anyone who already owns The Complete Stax/Volt Singles (1959-1968), The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles: 1968-1971 and The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles: 1972-1975.  As Rob Bowman asserts in his liner notes, the first half of the collection consists of “75 B-sides released between 1960 and 1975 that are, by and large, better than most companies’ A-sides.”

Far from dregs, these B-sides are extraordinary.  Standouts include Bobby Marchan’s manic proto-punk “That’s the Way Life Goes,” Dorothy Williams’ rabid “Watchdog,” Booker T. & the MG’s elegant “Sunday Sermon,” the Soul Children’s devastating “Poem on the School House Door” and Shirley Brown’s uplifting “Yes Sir Brother.”  As I continue to enjoy these 75 life-affirming songs for the remainder of my life, I’m certain to embrace new favorites.

The less said about the fourth disc the better.  Appallingly wretched schlock like Billy Eckstine’s “I Wanna Be Your Baby” and the overwrought acid rock of Finley Brown’s “Gypsy” dominate the dated material culled from the Stax subsidiary Enterprise.  The 26 songs from the Hip imprint on the fifth disc are far more compelling.  Ranging from the Goodees’ berzerk pop freakout “Condition Red” to Cargoe’s power-pop gem “Feel Alright,” the disc contains plenty of worthy curiosities.

The boxed set returns to soulful form on the sixth and final disc with 22 exquisite sacred songs from the Chalice and Gospel Truth labels.  The Dixie Nightingales’ civil rights anthem “Forgive These Fools” and Pops Staples’ eerie “Tryin’ Time” are among the cleansing hosannas.

Aside from the completist-only dreck on the fourth disc, my sole objection to Stax Singles, Volume 4: Rarities & the Best of the Rest is the failure of the 78-page booklet to identify the A-side for each of the tracks on the first three discs.  I’ve been compelled to spend more time than I’d care to admit doing research at Discogs.  Even so, geeky inquests aren’t necessary to appreciate the indispensable set.  After all, it contains more than four hours of the best music ever made.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Album Review: Migos- Culture II




Why’s everybody picking on Migos?  Even one of my favorite locally based rappers joined the indignant mob that’s bashing the group.  The herd mentality has it wrong.  Culture II, the Atlanta trio’s new album, may be even more entertaining than last year’s massive breakout release Culture.  If Culture II works as a failsafe party-starter in the dead of winter, I can only imagine how combustible it’ll be in July.  Criticizing Migos’ laughable lyrics is folly.  The hilarious ignorance of Offset, Quavo and Takeoff on bangers like “Stir Fry” is an essential component of Migos’ appeal.  Migos is all about staccato rhythms and wavy vibes, attributes in abundant supply on the 105-minute release.  Ingrates whine that Culture II is too long.  That’s like complaining that a case of beer is too heavy.


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

---
I featured Rubeo on my weekly spotlight on locally based musicians for KCUR.

---
Blues saxophonist Eddie Shaw has died.  I’m fortunate to have seen the member of Howlin’ Wolf’s band perform a handful of times.

---
Wut.  The sax-wielding Kansas City band Merlin manages to evoke both the classic metal of Iron Maiden and the zany prog-rock of Van der Graaf Generator on the astonishing Wizard.  If the lackluster vocalist were supplanted by an appropriately hammy singer in the vein of Bruce Dickinson or Peter Hammill, Wizard might be an instant classic.

---
Kansas City’s Sara Morgan makes convincing ‘80s-era country on Average Jane.  RIYL: Pam Tillis, homespun charm, Kathy Mattea.

---
Wayne Escoffery demonstrates that it’s still possible to make a mainstream jazz album filled with exciting surprises on Vortex.  RIYL: Branford Marsalis, persistence, John Coltrane.

---
Evidence’s Weather or Not is a standard-issue Rhymesayers release, which is to say it’s first-rate hip-hop.  RIYL: Atmosphere, slow flows, Eyedea & Abilities.  Here’s “Jim Dean”.

---
“Space Gun”, the title track of the forthcoming Guided by Voices album, is pretty great.

---
Ivan Lins and Gilson Peranzzetta collaborate on the understated Cumplicidade.

---
Catching arena-ready pop shows in small clubs is disorienting.  I took in a show by the OneRepublic-like Mako and the Joywave-ish Night Lights at RecordBar last night.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Concert Review: Drive-By Truckers at the Truman


Drive-By Truckers gave a 1,000 rubberneckers an unflinching tour of "Buttholeville" on Friday.  Hearing the Southern rock band tear into the song about a desperate man cleared the cobwebs in my head, snapped me out of a post-vacation malaise and restored my faith in rock and roll.

While I wasn’t quite as forlorn as the resident of “Buttholeville” who is “tired of my job and my wife Lucille, tired of my kids Ronnie and Neil” and fantasizes about the “day I'm gonna get out of Buttholeville, gonna reach right in, gonna grab the till, buy a brand new hat and a Coupe de Ville” when I bought a $28 ticket at the Truman, I was in a pitiful state.  Unshowered, unshaven and feeling like the meanest man in Kansas City, I was questioning my decision to hear similarly grizzled middle-aged men play outmoded music.

Yet when Patterson Hood hugged his bandmates at the conclusion of the wooly rendition of “Buttholeville,” I was inclined to jump the barrier to embrace the Alabama man for not only redeeming my night, but for redirecting me to the path of righteousness.


---
The Ben Miller Band’s Choke Cherry Tree is a roots-rock tour de force.  RIYL: Drive-By Truckers, the Ozarks, ZZ Top.  "Akira Kurosawa" is my jam.

---
Chris Dave and the Drumhedz is the initial viable contender for my favorite album of 2018.  RIYL: Erykah Badu, sidemen made good, Anderson Paak.

---
I’ll never be too cool to admire the moldy fig swing of saxophonist Scott Hamilton.  The lovely trio recording Live at Pyatt Hall is RIYL Ben Webster, feeling unfashionable, Johnny Hodges.

---
An outing by the Marmozets was my #14 show of 2014.  The new album Knowing What You Know Now nearly replicates the band’s ferocity.  Here’s "Major System Error".  RIYL: Bring Me the Horizon, convulsions, early Paramore.

---
Chinese Butterfly, the absurdly convivial 95-minute recording by the Chick Corea + Steve Gadd Band, is fusion-licious.  Lionel Loueke’s fresh contributions make the throwback sound work.  RIYL: Return To Forever, excess, Billy Cobham.  Here's "Like I Was Sayin'".

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Misterioso


My professional affiliation with the Kansas City venue Green Lady Lounge isn’t a secret.  Nor do I attempt to hide my ambivalence about the organ-based orientation of the bookings in the jazz club’s main room.  While I genuinely enjoy some of the organ jazz specialists who regularly appear at Green Lady, I rarely listen to the form for pleasure.  My passion for organ jazz began and ended during the era in which Milton’s served thirsty underaged punks who were eager to be schooled on the likes of Jack McDuff by the scofflaw bartenders who manned the dive’s turntable.  Yet Organ Monk Blue, a bracing new album by organist Gregory Lewis, guitarist Marc Ribot and drummer Jeremy "Bean" Clemons, is anything but stale.  The reckless trio makes Monk sound wonderfully strange again. 


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

---
I featured Lonnie McFadden in my weekly segment for KCUR.

---
Hugh Masekela has died.  It’s possible that “Grazing in the Grass” was the first jazz-oriented song I encountered as a child.

---
Mark E. Smith has died.  I distinctly remember the hullabaloo that accompanied the release of the Fall’s Live at the Witch Trials in 1979.  I never bought in.

---
Rapper Fredo Santana has died.

---
Sir shamelessly cribs Miguel and Frank Ocean on the solid November.  I can’t say I blame him.  Here’s “Summer in November”.

---
John Surman’s stately Invisible Threads is RIYL Jimmy Giuffre, chamber jazz, Anouar Brahem.

---
I’m embarrassed by how easily I was seduced by the deliriously gimmicky pop songs on The Go! Team’s Semicircle.  Here’s “All the Way Live”.

---
I’m amused by Avatar’s Avatar Country.  Here’s “The King Wants You”.

---
When I went through a funk-punk phase in the early 1980s, I subjected everyone around me to the Contortions, the Bush Tetras and James “Blood” Ulmer.  Shopping revives the style on The Official Body.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Whoa

I watched surfers from a beachside dive while on vacation in San Diego yesterday.  The soundtrack was similar to the sounds I’d heard at multiple Southern California establishments this week.  Rather than irritating me as they do when I encounter them in my Midwestern home, new millennium reggae songs from the likes of  Rebelution, Sbid, Iration and Damian Marley tickled my ears in an unfamiliar way.  Otherwise subdued barflys banded together for a hearty singalong when the 311 hit “Amber” popped up on the playlist.  I may have joined in.


---
I shared tracks by Deborah Brown, Matt Otto with Ensemble Ibérica, Samantha Fish, Lee Ann Womack, Future and Alejandro Fernández on a KCUR program titled “From Kansas City And Beyond, The Best Music Of 2017”.  Bonus: I made a case for Rich the Factor as my favorite Kansas City artist.

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

---
I reviewed Lonnie McFadden’s Live at Green Lady Lounge at Plastic Sax.

---
Denise LaSalle has died.

---
“Fast” Eddie Clarke of Motörhead and Fastway has died.

---
Dolores O’Riordan of the Cranberries has died.

---
The crossover gospel artist Edwin Hawkins has died.

---
The press materials for Suss’Ghost Box imply that the New York group’s “ambient country” concept is groundbreaking.  It’s not.  Calexico, Bill Frisell and B.J. Cole are among the artists that have previously explored the Ennio Morricone-influenced terrain.  That observation doesn’t mean that I don't take enormous pleasure in Ghost Box.

---
The albums Jack Antonoff produced for Lorde, Taylor Swift and his band Bleachers provided satisfying pop kicks in 2017.  Børns’ Blue Madonna offers a similar sort of immediate gratification.  Here’s “I Don’t Want U Back”.

---
I intended to bail on Anderson East’s Encore until I recognized the opening lyric of the album’s fifth song.  His surprising cover of Ted Hawkins’ “Sorry You’re Sick” is a nice surprise.  Even so, does the world need another painfully sincere blue-eyed soul singer in the vein of Ray LaMontagne, Allen Stone and Amos Lee?  Here’s
“Girlfriend”.

---
”Do you like it hardcore?” Yes, Fools Gold and Masayoshi Iimori, I do.

---
Listening to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Wrong Creatures is the rock and roll equivalent of rewatching the anodyne John Hughes movie The Breakfast Club.  RIYL: the Black Angels, vinyl reissues of the Velvet Underground, the Kills.  Here’s “Little Thing Gone Wild”.

---
The video for Inara George’s lovely chamber-pop song “Young Adult” is charming.

---
New Stravinsky!  The world premiere recording of the recently rediscovered “Chant Funébre” by Riccardo Chailly and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra on Stravinsky: Chant funŠbre; Le Sacre de Printemps is a swirling mind-bender.

---
Umphrey’s McGee’s It’s Not Us is a typically frustrating affair.  The jam band is best during noisy freakouts that evoke King Crimson’s Discipline.  The group is intolerable when it sounds like a third-tier version of the Police.

---
I’m invariably delighted on the rare occasions when I encounter a music enthusiast who is even geekier than I.  Cole Cuchna pores over every note and lyric of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on the second season of his Dissect podcast.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Ready Ornette

I’ve long been curious about the ludicrously cheap European reissues of classic American jazz material.  My recent purchase of Complete Albums Collection: 1958-1962 allowed me to examine the quality of the packaging and sound of one such release.  The four CD set consisting of Ornette Coleman’s first eight albums set me back $11.99.  I didn’t really need it- I already owned physical copies of several of the albums and each is available on streaming services- but the price proved irresistible.  The skimpy liner notes don’t supply song credits, but Coleman’s co-conspirators including Don Cherry and Charlie Haden come through loud and clear on the wholly acceptable sonics that are housed in a surprisingly sturdy jewel case.  As I rang in the new year with five hours of crucial skronk that was recorded before I was born, I was struck by the marginalization of Coleman’s innovations.  Aside from an occasional rendering of “Lonely Woman,” I almost never detect Coleman’s influence emanating from a bandstand in Kansas City.


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

---
I named Edison Lights the KCUR Band of the Week.

---
I reviewed Danny Embrey’s Dues Blues at Plastic Sax.

---
Tim Finn quoted my 2016 review of a Bonnie Raitt concert in a story about her upcoming tour with James Taylor.

---
Maurice Peress has died.  From his obituary in The New York Times: He led the Kansas City Philharmonic from 1974 to 1980, which proved to be an unhappy period. “The audience didn’t want to hear much new music,” he told The Christian Science Monitor in 1989. “I would introduce a new piece, and they would start booing and hissing.”

---
Ironic listening is one of my pet peeves.  Even so, I can’t stop marveling at this hellish Brazilian knockoff of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass.

---
I had hoped that it would have cleared up by now, but I'm still infected by an unhealthy obsession with Tigran Hamasyan. The odd tone poem “Rays of Light” is from the prolific maverick’s next album.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Kauffman Blues


I celebrated when I purchased a half-price seat in the front row for Philip Glass’ appearance at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in 2012.  In hindsight, I should have shed a tear.  The necessity to sell tickets to a recital by one of the most celebrated living composers at a steep discount may have triggered a shift in the tenor of the Kauffman Center Presents bookings.  Concerts by the prestigious likes of Glass have been replaced by the most middlebrow fare imaginable.  Forthcoming bookings include the soft rock master Peter Cetera, the former country hitmaker Sara Evans, the kitschy “Riverdance- The 20th Anniversary World Tour” and the Glenn Miller Orchestra ghost band.

Concerts by Johnny Mathis, Engelbert Humperdinck, the Oak Ridge Boys, Frankie Valli, Patti LaBelle, Kenny G, Michael McDonald, Kansas, Blondie, David Sanborn and Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson have also been part of the Kauffman Center Presents series in recent years.  (Appearances by Sweet Honey in the Rock and Herbie Hancock have been among a handful of welcome exceptions to the banal bookings.)  I don’t have a fundamental objection to any of those artists.  In fact, I gladly attended a handful of the shows.  Cheese- particularly when marinated in nostalgia- can be delicious.  It’s what’s not being booked at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts that saddens me.

While the Lyric Opera, the Kansas City Symphony, the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra and the Harriman-Jewell Series regularly present substantial fare on the magnificent venue’s two stages, I harbored high hopes for the Kauffman Center’s in-house presentations.  Before the Kauffman Center opened, organizers intimated that it would usher in a new era of elevated arts in Kansas City.  The ambitious experiment didn’t last long.  I once expected to attend concerts by heralded geniuses such as Nico Muhly, Sonny Rollins and Gilberto Gil.  Instead, I’ll have to make do with ”Glory of Love”.


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

---
I named the Chris Burnett Quintet the KCUR Band of the Week.

---
I pondered the alarming lack of critical attention for Kansas City’s jazz artists at Plastic Sax.

---
Rick Hall of Muscle Shoals has died.

---
A few of the distressing developments addressed in an essay by Libby Hanssen have also impacted my work.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)