Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Festival Review: Cropped Out 2018


I pogoed at a rapturous performance by the revolutionary rock band Half Japanese five minutes after my mind was scrambled by a collaboration between the heroic titan Anthony Braxton and the imaginative harpist Jacqueline Kerrod in Louisville on Saturday.  The startling contrast between the iconoclastic musicians is what the Cropped Out festival in Louisville is all about.

The annual event represents a paradise for broad-minded aficionados of outsider music.  I heard folk, punk, indie-rock, hip-hop, free jazz, experimental noise, bluegrass, chamber jazz, honky tonk, footwork and a comedian dressed as a opossum at the two-day event.  The music-centric festival isn’t for everyone.  Cropped Out is all about the music.  Organizers can scarcely be bothered with maintaining an online presence.  And while it boasts a glorious view of the Ohio River, the festival grounds at the American Turners Club resemble a condemned country club.

Unlike many of the approximately 750 attendees whose stylistic choices signaled an absolute rejection of the mainstream, my enthusiasm for the esoteric lineup isn’t exclusionary.  I embrace Cropped Out because it allows me to gorge on acts that I might not otherwise see without the hassles associated with major festivals.  I certainly didn’t like everything I heard.  Circuit Des Yeux, the most anticipated act at the festival, did nothing for me.  Thankfully, outings by the two veteran artists that compelled me to attend Cropped Out fulfilled my expectations.  My ten favorite performances:

1. Anthony Braxton and Jacqueline Kerrod- a giant of American music (my Instagram footage)
2. Michael Hurley- a true folk hero (my Instagram footage)
3. Drunks With Guns- surly St. Louis punks
4. Nathan Bowles and Bill MacKay- avant-garde folk (my Instagram footage)
5. Jana Rush- footwork pioneer
6. Half Japanese- bandleader Jad Fair is a rock heretic
7. The Web- disaffected prog-rock
8. Sex Tide- punk rage
9. Quin Kirchner- chamber-jazz (my Instagram footage)
10. Taiwan Housing Project- incendiary rock noise

Next year’s goal: crossing Harold Budd, Evan Parker and Ralph Towner off my bucket list at the Big Ears Festival.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Album Review: John Scofield- Combo 66


John Scofield is so unassumingly exceptional that it’s only natural to take the guitarist and his rapidly expanding catalog for granted.  He tours relentlessly while issuing a steady stream of recordings.  Combo 66, the latest album in his vast discography, is (ho hum) excellent.  Joined by keyboardist Gerald Clayton, bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Bill Stewart, Scofield grooves like a Wurlitzer jukebox stocked with Grant Green and Jimi Hendrix singles.  In addition to acting as a party-starter, Scofield plays with breathtaking grace on lovely melodies including  “I’m Sleeping In.”  Yet it’s Clayton’s singular work on organ and piano that will compel me to return to Combo 66 years from now.


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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I reviewed a performance by Ryan Lee’s Mezzo String for Plastic Sax.

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The material Otis Rush recorded for the Cobra label in the 1950s epitomizes what I want from the blues (and most other forms of music, really.)  Raw songs like “Groaning the Blues” and “Double Trouble” have terrified, thrilled and inspired me for decades.  Rush died last week.

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Charles Aznavour has died.

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Latin jazz legendJerry González has died.

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Studio wizard Geoff Emerick has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

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The most interesting aspect of Giorgio Moroder’s appearance at the Truman last week was the way in which individual members the audience of about 600 responded to each selection.  I was there primarily for the Donna Summer hits, but most people only became fully energized when the influential producer’s contributions to movie soundtracks like “Top Gun,” “Flashdance” and “The Neverending Story” filled the room with processed cheese.

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Chic’s It’s About Time doesn’t damage Niles Rodgers’ legacy.  RIYL: “Good Times,” dance floors, “I Want Your Love.”

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The lithe production of No Name’s Room 25 won’t bump in anyone’s whip.  Even so, it’s an entirely winning hip-hop album.  RIYL: Dessa, taking a break from Cardi and Nicki, Chance the Rapper.

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I remember when Lil Wayne was the best rapper alive.  While it’s not a disaster, Tha Carter V saddens me.

(Original image of John Scofield and Bill Stewart at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival in 2017 by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Concert Review: Lonnie Holley in Swope Park




An ugly truth was revealed 25 minutes into Lonnie Holley’s appearance in Swope Park on the afternoon of Saturday, September 29. More than 100 name tag-wearing people who were part of a Kansas City art tour affiliated with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art left the concert and boarded buses that were parked near the pavilion hosting weekend presentations for the Open Spaces festival. Less than 20 people remained. The small group of Holley’s fans and Open Spaces staff members witnessed an amazing performance.

The music of the celebrated artist with an extraordinary backstory is equal parts Moondog, Nina Simone and Sun Ra. Accompanied by Dave Nelson’s looped trombone and Marlon Patton’s drumming (both men also triggered electronic effects), Holley shouted, pleaded, whispered and whistled as he played keyboards on loose compositions about the presence of God, the nature of time, an epidemic of sorrow and the sacrifices of our forefathers. A piece about emotional and electrical currents resembled an avant-garde version of “Wichita Lineman.” The hypnotic resonance of Holley’s cosmic gospel raised my spirits even as it moved me to tears.

Heavy traffic for The Illusionists show at Starlight Theatre made exiting Swope Park difficult. The professional magicians are entertaining tricksters (my review of a 2016 show by the Illusionists), but I left the park knowing that I’d witnessed Holley conjure real magic.




















(Original images by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Album Review: Blood Orange- Negro Swan

I once thought Blood Orange was exceedingly overrated.  The music made by the lionized auteur Devonté Hynes finally catches up to the breathless hype on Negro Swan, one of the most engaging alternative R&B albums to be released in the wake of Frank Ocean’s game-changing 2012 masterpiece Channel OrangeNegro Swan’s glossiest songs could be psychedelic remixes of George Michael’s biggest hits while less structured tracks sound like spontaneous late-night D’Angelo jams.  The spoken word interludes about sexual politics and gender identity don’t address concerns of immediate interest to me, but the passages provide effective transitions between the stylistically disparate selections.  Here’s “Jewelry” and “Saint”.


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I reviewed Billy Joel’s concert at Kauffman Stadium for The Kansas City Star.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I slam everything in an irritable Plastic Sax post.

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Chas Hodges of Chas and Dave has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

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Good Lord!  The deep 1980s funk on the Dur-Dur Band compilation Volume 1, Volume 2 & Previously Unreleased Tracks saved my soul the other day.  Not even the atrocious sound quality spoils my appreciation of the uplifting music that seems to be based equally on the (Jamaican) Wailers and indigenous African styles.  (Tip via Big Steve.)

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The Near East Quartet achieve one of the rarest feats in jazz with “Jinyang”: the creation a compelling music video.  The South Korean group’s ECM debut is imbued with similarly originality.

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“The Gypsy Faerie Queen”, a new song by Marianne Faithfull and Nick Cave that “exists in the twilight in-between,” is almost more than I can bear. 

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Mandy Barnett’s Strange Conversation has a few nice moments.  RIYL: Patsy Cline, near misses, K.D. Lang.

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I expected to like Anthony Roth Costanzo’s Arc.  I was mistaken.  RIYL: Philip Glass, countertenors, George Frideric Handel.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Song Review: Ambrose Akinmusire's “a blooming bloodfruit in a hoodie”




















Ambrose Akinmusire’s validation of my hot take on his new song “a blooming bloodfruit in a hoodie” gratified me last week.  Minutes after I suggested that the “essential new ‘a blooming bloodfruit in a hoodie’ is the jazz equivalent of Lou Reed’s monumental ‘Street Hassle’” on Twitter, Akinmusire affirmed the assessment.  Like “Street Hassle,” the coarse 13-minute track is simultaneously funny and tragic as it fluently merges high art and popular music.  The opening selection from the forthcoming album Origami Harvest is one of the most exciting things I’ve heard in 2018 and reinforces my belief that Akinmusire is one of the most vital artists of the new millennium.


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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I reviewed the Count Basie Orchestra’s new album All About That Basie at Plastic Sax.

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I’d be lying if I suggested I was a fan of Mac Miller.  Even so, his recent Tiny Desk Concert featuring a band that includes Thundercat and Justus West showed Miller evolving toward a musical direction that appeals to me.  Miller died last week.

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The rugged saxophonist Big Jay McNeely has died.

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Maartin Allcock of Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

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Katherine Paul, the woman behind Black Belt Eagle Scout, is less heralded than many of her similarly winsome indie-rock peers, but I prefer her album Mother of My Children to most of the more acclaimed efforts.  Here’s “Indians Never Die”.

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Rich the Factor makes a cameo appearance on Rico, the new album by the ostensible drug kingpin and rapper Berner.  Chronixx, Cam’ron and Kevin Gates are also featured.  Here’s the title track.

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Cedric Burnside’s Benton County Relic is an admirable blues album.  RIYL: R.L. Burnside, family traditions, T-Model Ford.

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I’m still mourning the February death of Jóhann Jóhannsson.  The Icelandic composer’s posthumously released score for the horror flick Mandy also acts as an unsettlingly abrasive soundtrack for the current societal discourse.

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Most people think I’m kidding when I tell them I adore Ariana Grande’s recent music.  Maybe they’ll come around to my way of hearing things after they take in the pop star’s interpretation of Thundercat’s “Them Changes.”

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, September 14, 2018

Concert Review: The Bang on a Can All-Stars and the Kansas City Chorale at the Folly Theater



















The most prestigious offering of Open Spaces was an artistic triumph and an attendance disaster.  About 100 people showed up for the ambitious collaboration between the Bang on a Can All-Stars, one of New York’s most decorated new music ensembles, and the four-time Grammy Award recipients the Kansas City Chorale at the Folly Theater on Thursday.  Tickets to the Kansas City premiere of “Anthracite Fields”, the oratorio about coal miners that won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Music, were only $20.  The dismal turnout for the once-in-a-lifetime event at the venue with more than 1,000 seats was almost certainly the smallest showing for either acclaimed group in years.

Bang on a Can clarinetist Ken Thomson didn’t bother to use a microphone when he told the small gathering seated near the stage that his group had rehearsed with the Kansas City Chorale the previous two days.  The preparation paid off.  Conducted by the Chorale’s Charles Bruffy, the rendering of “Anthracite Fields” was magnificent.  Bruffy’s 27-member group excelled in the uncharacteristically adventurous context.  A melding of classical, rock and folk elements, “Anthracite Fields” is a sonically jarring but emotionally compelling work.  Composer Julia Wolfe grinned broadly as she was rewarded with a standing ovation at the conclusion of the evening.

Bang on a Can opened the concert with interpretations of two similarly engaging pieces.  Described in the glossy 20-page program for the concert as “an exploration into the use of video to create a framework in which live music can develop,” a madcap reading of Christian Marclay’s “Fade to Slide” showcased Bang on a Can’s ability to transcend labels.  The sensitive playing of cellist Ashley Bathgate during Michael Gordon’s meditation on mortality “Light is Calling” was almost as heartbreaking as the sparse attendance for the crown jewel of Open Spaces.


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I reviewed the record-breaking concert by Taylor Swift, Camila Cabello and Charlie XCX at Arrowhead Stadium.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I implore Kansas City’s jazz artists to redirect their promotional efforts at Plastic Sax.

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The promotional video for Cropped Out causes me to my question my decision to attend next month’s outsider music festival in Louisville.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, September 07, 2018

Album Review: Nicole Mitchell- Maroon Cloud




















I almost bailed on Nicole Mitchell’s Maroon Cloud after ten disorienting minutes.  Acclimating to the maelstrom created by the flutist’s drummer-less quartet is challenging.  The initial rough sledding serves to heighten the ultimate payoff.  Mitchell, vocalist Fay Victor, pianist Aruán Ortiz and cellist Tomeka Reid revive the most experimental aspects of the Sun Ra Arkestra and the Art Ensemble of Chicago.  Victor insists that “sometimes a sound represents eternity” on “Sound.”  She’s right.  Maroon Cloud has all the earmarks of a timeless avant-garde album.


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I created an four-minute audio feature about Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust for KCUR.

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I reviewed the Marcus Lewis Big Band’s Brass and Boujee album at Plastic Sax.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I yakked about Open Spaces on KCUR.

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The American Jazz Museum held a press conference to promote a Randy Weston concert in 2010.  Only a television cameraman and I showed up.  Here are my notes documenting the odd event.  The jazz legend died Saturday.

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I relate to the locale of the Netflix series Ozark as much as the next Midwestern yokel.  Return, the forthcoming album by William Blackart, acts as a supplemental soundtrack to Ozark.  The Arkansas based singer-songwriter makes hardscrabble roots-rock in the vein of John Moreland.  Blackart’s current tour of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri includes a stop at the Westport Saloon in Kansas City on September 26.

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I didn’t want to invest time in Cyrus Chestnut’s Kaleidoscope, but there’s just no denying a piano trio album that ranges from Erik Satie to Deep Purple.

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Bruce Soord of the Pineapple Thief didn’t make much of an impression on me when I heard him open a concert for Steven Wilson in 2016.  Dissolution, the new album by the Pineapple Thief, does little to alter that perception.  RIYL: second-tier Roger Waters, dyspeptic pomp, a poor man’s Peter Gabriel.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, September 03, 2018

Concert Review: Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Dave Alvin and Jon Langford at Knuckleheads



















My date threatened to run off with Jimmie Dale Gilmore at Knuckleheads on Saturday.  I understood her impulse.  The Texan is an even groovier variant of Willie Nelson.  And at 73, Gilmore’s voice remains celestial.  He’s touring with Dave Alvin in support of their collaborative album Downey to Lubbock(Here’s the title track.).  They’re backed by a band of ringers including Lisa Pankratz.

Alvin’s frenzied guitar solos and the surprising jam-based segues were pleasing, but Gilmore was the main attraction.  His delivery on Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)” was free of the sanctimony that often spoils the song.  And hearing Gilmore warble “Tonight I Think I’m Gonna Go Downtown” was worth the $70 I paid at the door.

Jon Langford opened the show.  After noting my enthusiasm for the man who described he and his accompanist John Szymanski as “sad old guys playing acoustic guitars,” a few members of the audience of about 200 asked me about Langford.  I told them that his band the Mekons was the best rock group of ‘80s.  Langford seemed more inclined to abscond with my date than Gilmore.  I’m relieved that she didn’t ”Treat Me Like a Saturday Night”.

(Original image of Jimmie Dale Gilmore by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

EP Review: Radiant Children- Tryin'


Why hasn’t Radiant Children blown up?  The four dream-soul songs on Radiant Children’s Tryin’ EP are superior to almost everything the Internet, Janelle Monaé or Little Dragon have issued recently.  Don’t believe me?  Even cursory examinations of “Life’s a Bitch” and “Poke Bowl” will convince you that the London based trio has been unjustly overlooked.


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I reviewed Luke Bryan’s concert at the Sprint Center for The Kansas City Star

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I reviewed Lonnie McFadden’s "Charlie Parker: Past, Present & Future" at the Gem Theater at Plastic Sax.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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Believe it or not, the Temptations’ new interpretation of the Weeknd’s “Earned It” is excellent.

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Luciana Souza’s Book of Dreaming is too rarified for my blood.  RIYL: Gretchen Parlato extreme tastefulness, Joni Mitchell.

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Old dogs execute all manner of new tricks on a strange new tribute album.  Billy Swan and Buzz Cason perform surprising interpretations of Buddy Holly songs on Billy & Buzz Sing Buddy“Lookin’ For Someone to Love” is one of the project’s most conventional selections.

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I’m disappointed that Ólafur Arnalds’ Re:member doesn’t possess the emotional resonance of the late Jóhann Jóhannsson’s work.  RIYL: androids, Brian Eno, bleeps.

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Vete de mi vida.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Album Review: Elza Soares- Deus É Mulher



















I’ve long posited that Miles Davis had a more extreme evolution over the course of a career than any other musician.  Maybe I’ve been wrong.  Elza Soares went from this in 1965 to this in 2017.  The Brazilian octogenarian’s abrasive new samba album Deus É Mulher (God Is Woman) resembles an experimental Bill Laswell production.  Even though I can’t pretend to understand even half of the social, political and artistic implications of Soares’ transformation, I’m awed by her audacious fearlessness.  Here’s the punk-infused “Dentro de Cada Um”.


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Lazy Lester has died.  I documented a 2008 performance by the blues man.

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Ed King of Lynyrd Skynyrd has died.

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Ed “Mr. Bongo” Costanzo has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

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I love every element of Erykah Badu’s Tiny Desk Concert.

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I understand the appeal of being one of Nicki Minaj’s minions.  Unfortunately, I can’t bring myself to sign up.  While fascinating, Queen is wildly inconsistent.  That said, all 47 minutes of Sweetener, the blissful pop album by Minaj’s pal Ariana Grande, are delicious.

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Thee Oh Sees have a full metal freakout on the hilariously gonzo Smote Reverser.  RIYL: Atomic Rooster, acid rock, Spooky Tooth.  The joke wears thin halfway through the hour-long album.  Here’s “Anthemic Aggressor”

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Slug and Ant on a train!  Atmosphere’s “Virgo” may be corny, but I remain all-in on my generational and regional peers in Atmosphere.

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I’m a sucker for metallic novelties.  Trappist recently issued an entire album of thrash songs about beer.  Ancient Brewing Tactics opens with the video-of-the-year candidate “No Soldiers Left Behind”.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Kansas City Wine: New Albums by Kelly Hunt, Domineko and Broken Arrows






















Kelly Hunt’s debut album Even the Sparrow sounds as if was issued by Vanguard Records in 1966.  I wouldn’t ordinary commend an album that recalls the folk revivalist styles associated with Mimi Fariña and Buffy Sainte-Marie, but the combination of Hunt’s exceptional voice and exquisitely spare instrumentation is stunning.  Even the Sparrow will likely be my favorite non-jazz album of the year by a Kansas City musician.  Here’s “Sunshine Long Overdue”.

Domineko’s Perfect Weekend sounds like what might transpire if Kendrick Lamar or Vince Staples spent the summer in Kansas City consuming a debilitating stockpile of intoxicants.  The extremely wavy vibe is exemplified by lyrics like “I ain’t ever been this high” (“Peaking”), “I’m trying to smoke all night” (“Viewtiful”), and “addicted to ‘scriptions” (“Sundayze”).  Here’s “Setlist”.

There’s plenty wrong with Streetflowers, the debut album of the Kansas City band Broken Arrows.  The mix is tinny, the tempos drag, the lyrics are plain and none of the vocalists are compelling.  Even so, the boyish enthusiasm of the grizzled scenesters is charming.  A few of the area’s fashionable young garage-rock bands play similar forms of jangle-pop with an ironic smirk.  Broken Arrows’ earnestness is refreshing.  Here’s live footage.


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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sounding Off


Friends and associates are chagrined by my indifference to sonic fidelity.  I defend my lackluster stereo equipment by noting that a disproportionate percentage of my favorite recordings consist of hiss-imbued R&B, wobbly dub, murky jazz, scratchy honky tonk, ruffian rockabilly, disheveled punk and extemporaneous Soundcloud rap.  I don’t need a fancy system to properly appreciate that stuff.

Two new releases challenge my skinflint inclinations.

My modest speakers don’t protest when I inflict Pusha T on my neighbors, but they can’t handle Mirage? Concertos for Percussion, the dynamic collaboration of percussionist Evelyn Glennie, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and conductor Anne Manson.  Glennie’s marimba and vibraphone barrage compel the speakers to beg for mercy.

I’ve repeatedly returned to Dirty Projectors’ Lamp Lit Prose simply because it’s a mind-blowing headphone album.  I’m less interested in David Longstreth’s pastoral version of Art of Noise-style prog-pop than in his hallucinatory studio trickery. 

Perhaps it’s time to upgrade.


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Drake and Migos raised the bar at the Sprint Center last Sunday.  I reviewed the concert for The Kansas City Star(Instagram clip)

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I reviewed Keith Urban’s bonkers appearance at the Sprint Center on Friday for The Kansas City Star(Instagram clip)

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Aretha Franklin received no respect from Sam Smith at the Sprint Center on Saturday.  I reviewed the concert for The Kansas City Star(Instagram clip)

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I previewed this month’s Charlie Parker Celebration at Plastic Sax.

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I reviewed Nate Nall's debut album Places to Go at Plastic Sax.

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Jazz vocalist Morgana King has died.

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Jill Janus of Huntress has died.

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I own physical copies of a few of Terence Blanchard’s film scores.  I’ve listened to each of them once.  While I enjoy his score for Blackkklansman, I doubt I’ll return to it.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Aretha Franklin, 1942-2018



















I’ve never not known Aretha Franklin’s voice.  She’s been a constant presence in the life of every committed music lover of my generation.  Yet I only began truly appreciating her as a distinct entity rather than as a omnipresent piece of the cultural firmament when I went on a deep soul dive in the early ‘90s.  I was reduced to a puddle when I first encountered “My Song” on one of the many soul compilations I purchased while on my single-minded pursuit.  Talk about being “in my feelings”!  I never took the Queen of Soul for granted again.  Franklin died today.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, August 10, 2018

In Defense of Kenny Chesney


Mocking Kenny Chesney is easy.  I’m guilty of clowning on the country star’s flair for corny melodrama.  My otherwise positive review of his concert at Arrowhead Stadium contained an unhealthy heaping of snark.

Not only do I admire Songs For the Saints, Chesney’s 43-minute meditation on the aftermath of the storms that have ravaged the Caribbean, I’ve repeatedly listened to the new album for pleasure.  Chesney’s platitudes may be trite, but they’re reassuringly sincere.

When I was younger, I often made the mistake of conflating an artist’s fan base with his or her art.  I know better now.  The staggering number of red MAGA hats and vomiting miscreants at Chesney’s appearance at Arrowhead Stadium doesn’t diminish my appreciation of songs like “Better Boat”.


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Charlie Puth obliterated my modest expectations at Starlight Theatre on Thursday.  I reviewed the concert for The Kansas City Star.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I reviewed the Myers Swingset’s The Instrumental One at Plastic Sax.

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Tommy Peoples of the Bothy Band has died. (Tip via BGO.)

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Lorrie Collins of the Collins Kids has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

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Jack Williams, a musical Zelig, has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

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Travis Scott’s crass crossover attempt Astroworld is tediously generic.  RIYL: consumerism, Young Thug, celebrities.

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Where We Come From (Chicago x London Mixtape) exemplifies everything I love- as well as everything I loathe- at the burgeoning intersection of jazz and hip-hop.  RIYL: bragging about lack of preparation, Nubya Garcia, jam sessions.  Here’s an explanatory video.

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I’m fully aware that music nerds like me are supposed to rave about Kaveh Rastegar’s Light of Love, but the preciousness of his fusion of jazz, funk and indie-rock irritates me.  RIYL: Kneebody, nerds, Chris Dave.

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What fresh hell is this?.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Concert Review: The S.O.S. Band and Avery Sunshine in the Jazz District


Doggone it!  The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s Heart of America Hot Dog Festival fundraiser was a massive disappointment.  I made my way to the Jazz District to hear Cameo, The S.O.S. Band and Avery Sunshine on Saturday.  The festival grounds on the spacious median of Paseo Boulevard north of 18th Street were packed.  Attendance appeared to be well over 5,000. 

I was glad the entertainment lineup ran about an hour behind schedule.  I stood in line 20 minutes to pay $20 admission at the gate and 30 minutes in another line to purchase cold drinks.  I strained to hear the jazz-tinged funk of Marcus Anderson as I waited. 

The faint sound was a big problem.  When I finally made my way to the closest spot to the stage the hoi polloi were allowed, I saw that only the few hundred people in the cordoned-off V.I.P. section were able to properly hear the performances.  It wasn’t all good for them- the fortunate few had to endure the glad-handing of at least one Kansas City councilman.

The clamor of the crowd and the aggressive policing that prevented music lovers from sidling up to the edge of the V.I.P. section caused the event to resemble a massive political rally more than a concert.  Even though I’m familiar with Sunshine’s repertoire, it was often difficult to discern which song she and her band were playing over the constant commotion.  I couldn’t even say if the setlist included “Call My Name”.

The din of the crowd and the inadequate amplification compelled me to take desperate measures.  I abandoned the festival grounds to watch the S.O.S. Band play hits like “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” from behind a chain link fence about 50 yards from the side of the stage.  The vantage point was an improvement, but not good enough to compel me to stick around for Cameo.  Maybe that’s a blessing- at least I didn’t get shot.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Album Review: Rodney Crowell- Acoustic Classics


Re-recordings by country artists are invariably dismal legal maneuvers.  Rodney Crowell’s Acoustic Classics is different.  For starters, the Texan never succumbed to has-been status.  Crowell is in his artistic prime as he nears his 68th birthday.  The songwriter redeems “Please Remember Me,” a goopy 1999 hit for Tim McGraw, refreshes “Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight”, a 1979 hit for the Oak Ridge Boys, and reworks “Shame on the Moon,” a 1982 hit for Bob Seger.  The new interpretations of “Making Memories of Us” and “After All This Time” bring me to tears.  May we all continue to outrun the train and outlast the pain.


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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I asssess the Folly Jazz Series' forthcoming season at Plastic Sax.

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The jazz trumpeter Tomasz Stańko has died.  ECM created a nice memoriam for the Polish trailblazer.

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I’d rather hang out with Cody Jinks than listen to his music.  Jinks and I could bond over our mutual admiration of Waylon Jennings, Joe Ely and Jerry Jeff Walker.  His new album Lifers acts as a fine homage to those troubadours.

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Santigold’s I Don’t Want: The Gold Fire Sessions exudes the guileless creativity of M.I.A.’s 2004 mixtape Piracy Funds Terrorism.  RIYL: J Balvin, parties, Run the Jewels.

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Azul in Ljubljana is an invigorating live recording by the longstanding trio of bassist Carlos Bica, guitarist Frank Möbus and drummer Jim Black.  RIYL: Dave Holland, Euro-jazz, Nels Cline.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Concert Review: Selwyn Birchwood at Kanza Hall


Four black musicians performed for 20 white people at the 1,000-capacity Kanza Hall on Friday.  I forked over $15 at the door to witness the debacle.  Selwyn Birchwood is one of handful of artists equipped to shake blues out of the doldrums.  The form has been stuck in a commercial and artistic rut for years.  The Floridian’s astute songs, sly guitar solos, powerful voice and uncommon band configuration- guitar, saxophone, bass and drums- were even more impressive at Kanza Hall than on his two albums for Alligator Records.  The snippet of a Fenton Robinson-style guitar solo I posted to Instagram reflects Birchwood’s sensitivity and restraint, rare qualities in a genre that too often rewards bluster.  Subtlety clearly wasn’t in demand on Friday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Album Review: Eddie Palmieri- Full Circle


I blew my travel budget on an Eddie Palmieri show in New York last year.  By Kansas City standards, I spent crazy money to catch the salsa legend at the Blue Note.  As a snippet of footage I posted to Instagram suggests, he was worth every penny.   The octogenarian and his expansive band revise salsa classics on the joyous new album Full Circle.   Not only does the project substantiate my enthusiasm for the Blue Note show, its life-affirming jubilance provides precisely the sort of consolatory tonic I need this summer.


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I reviewed Shania Twain’s return to the Sprint Center for The Kansas City Star.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I take note of the fine new album by Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at Plastic Sax.

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The title of the Internet’s Hive Mind is unintentionally ironic.  Me-tooers have heaped praise on the return of Syd the Kid’s stylish soul group.  Telling the truth is unfashionable, but I don’t mind being the bad guy.  Here goes: Hive Mind is a terrible disappointment.  Aside from the sublime bass lines, there’s little to admire about the dreary project.

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Decade, a collaboration between 90-year-old Lee Konitz and 36-year-old pianist Dan Tepfer, is a mystical mind-meld.  RIYL: chess, Sam Rivers, astrophysics.

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Protoje’s A Matter of Time is a solid roots-rock-reggae album.  RIYL: Chronixx, getting past Legend, Burning Spear.  Here’s “Bout Noon”.

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I’d long ignored friends as they've touted footwork.  What a mistake!  Since R.P. Boo’s new I’ll Tell You What! turned my head, I’ve been astounded by almost every track on footwork playlists including Spotify’s Footwork Fever.  Better late than never.

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As a grown man, I’m disinterested in rap beefs and internecine heavy metal skirmishes.  I don’t particularly care why the metal community is divided by Skeletonwitch’s Devouring Radiant LightI just know that I’m down.  RIYL: Deafheaven, sore throats, Revocation.  Here’s “Fen of Shadows”.

(Original image of Eddie Palmieri at the Blue Note by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Concert Review: Randy Bachman at Ameristar Casino


Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s Not Fragile was one of my favorite rock albums when I was in elementary school.  My abiding affection for burly BTO songs like Not Fragile’s title track (“hoping boogie’s still allowed!”) compelled me to buy a $38 ticket at the door for Randy Bachman’s concert at Ameristar Casino on Friday.

The 74-year-old’s astonishing 100-minute appearance obliterated my modest expectations.  Bachman provided the surprising backstories of many of his hits as the primary artistic force of the Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive in a survey of his momentous career. 

The Canadian explained that “No Sugar Tonight” was inspired by a scruffy street scene he encountered in Haight-Ashbury on an unsuccessful quest to find “a real hippie” during the Summer of Love.  In a story about the long gestation of “Takin’ Care of Business”, he admitted that “I have a songwriting kit in my car, it’s the same one you have- a McDonald’s napkin and a crayon.”

In addition to dropping the names of friends and colleagues like Burton Cummings (“he was born to be wild; I was born to be mild”), Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Stephen Stills, the setlist included three songs from his wondrously weird new George Harrison tribute project.  He took delight in enunciating the word jumble “buy By George By Bachman.  My mind was blown when Bachman introduced one of his four bandmates as his son Tal before a rendition of the latter’s 1999 hit “She’s So High”.  I never made the connection between father and son. 

The show’s sole flaw was the intrusive ambient noise from the casino that occasionally made Bachman’s stories difficult to hear.  My polite request to the staff at the entrance of the venue to shut the doors was summarily dismissed.  It’s a shame that Bachman’s classic rock tales weren’t afforded respect by indifferent representatives of the gambling emporium.

Setlist: Between Two Mountains; You Like Me Too Much; Shakin’ All Over; These Eyes; Laughing; No Sugar Tonight; Undun; American Woman; Here Comes the Sun; She’s So High;  Roll On Down the Highway; Let It Ride; Looking Out for #1; Takin’ Care of Business; You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Concert Review: Courtney Barnett at the Truman















A friend proclaimed that Courtney Barnett is “the present and future of rock and roll” in his social media post from the Truman on Wednesday.  I’m not so sure.  After paying $33 to join him amid a full house of more than 1,000 fans at the Australian’s 90-minute performance, I believe that the 30-year-old is a gifted holdover from rock's past.  The gray-haired dudes wearing Tom Petty t-shirts were definitely in the right place.  Barnett’s old-school rock and the rinky-dink stage production made her appearance a spot-on throwback to 1978. While I enjoyed the defiantly archaic show and would be thrilled if Barnett had a commercial breakthrough, I sensed that I was witnessing the pinnacle of the career of an artist who is destined to be a marginal cult musician in the vein of Barnett’s countryman Paul Kelly.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Album Review: Halestorm- Vicious


I regularly run into a diligent concert photographer who is a steadfast rock loyalist.  After bemoaning the invariably diminished crowd sizes for his favorite form of music, our discussions shift to the general decline in the popularity of mainstream rock.  My go-to line is “where’s the new Guns N’ Roses?”  The next time I see my friend, I’ll be able to tell him that rock’s savior has finally arrived. 

On its fourth album Vicious (July 27 street date), Halestorm shows it’s capable of kicking up fresh dust with the one foot rock has moldering in the grave.  I’ve been on the Halestorm bandwagon for years, but the wholly accessible Vicious is the band’s first release that’s capable of crossing over to fans of classic rock, contemporary country and pop.

“Uncomfortable” is just one of several potential hits on Vicious.  Fashionable bands like Deafheaven and Parquet Courts will get the lion’s share of breathless reviews.  Halestorm is destined to pack arenas.  It’s about time.  Let the commercial revival of rock commence.


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I reviewed a concert by Kenny Chesney, Thomas Rhett, Old Dominion and Brandon Lay at Arrowhead Stadium for The Kansas City Star.

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I reviewed a concert by Henrique Eisenmann and Ehud Ettun at the 1900 Building for Plastic Sax.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star.

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Ponty Bone has died.  Without Bone’s essential contributions, I probably wouldn’t have fallen in love with the first few Joe Ely albums.  The accordion player is featured in grainy footage from 1980.  (Tip via BGO.)

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The influential music journalist Roy Carr has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

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Binker and Moses’ electrifying Alive in the East? lives up to the hype.  Maybe London really is the new jazz capital of the world.  That said, I could do without the annoying harp of Tori Handsley.  RIYL: Courtney Pine, trendiness, Shabaka Hutchings.

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Beastmode 2 is fine, but I guess I’ve moved on from the Future/Zaytoven formula.  It doesn’t move me much anymore.

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The Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra is a new-school big band led by Russell Gunn.  Get It How You Live is worthwhile, but RKJO is clearly an ensemble that’s best experienced live.  RIYL: Snarky Puppy, progress, Dionne Farris.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Metal Deficiency


Something was wrong with me.  I’d become unusually disaffected in recent days.  I was relieved when I happened upon the proper diagnosis of the mysterious ache: I hadn’t attended a metal show in six weeks.

I paid $28 at the door of the Truman to allow the fearsome package tour of Black Dahlia Murder, Whitechapel, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Aversions Crown and Shadow of Intent to relieve me of my metal deficiency.  The extreme dose of bone-rattling blast beats mended my soul.  Getting kicked in the head by crowd-surfers and elbowed in the gut by crazed men in the mosh pit enhanced the healing process.

Fleshgod Apocalypse, a theatrical Italian band with an operatic vocalist and a pianist, amused me.  I felt the musical medicine fully kick in when the group insisted that the audience of about 700 participate in the traditional wall of death ritual.


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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I reviewed Stephen Martin’s debut album Vision at Plastic Sax.

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Henry Butler has died.  My kids were so enamored with a performance by the Louisiana pianist at an outdoor festival about 15 years ago that they had Butler sign their comic books.

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Richard Swift, an indie-rock Zelig, has died.

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Jazz trombonist Bill Watrous has died.

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Vince Martin of “Cindy, Oh Cindy” fame has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

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The Kansas City rapper Hoggy D collaborates with locally based heavyweights Rich the Factor and Rush Borda on the old-school street rap album Heavy Starch.  Here’s “New Method”.

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Cyrille Aimée's new live album affirms my enthusiasm for her concert at the Folly Theater in February.  Far more than a gypsy jazz revivalist, Aimée and her band get delightfully weird on Thelonious Monk and Michael Jackson covers.

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I’m not going to pretend that I love it, but the ways in which Yuno blends Blink-182, Lil Peep, No Doubt, the Cure and Sade on Moodie is the default sound of 2018.  Here’s “Why For”.

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Philthy’s Party Crashers is a decent funk album.  I wouldn’t ordinarily bother mentioning it, but I came upon the release by the New York ensemble immediately after suffering through two like-minded but vastly inferior efforts by locally based artists.  Here’s the title track.

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The spate of protracted albums is wearing me out.  I'm diligently working my way through all three hours and 15 minutes of William Parker’s stupendous Voices Fall From The Sky.  RIYL: Anthony Davis, art songs, Wadada Leo Smith.

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Gorillaz’s The Now Now strikes me as the sequel to Arctic Monkey’s Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.  That’s a good thing.  Here’s “Humility”.

(Original image of Aversions Crown at the Truman by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Album Review: Drake- Scorpion


Drake’s money-infatuated album Scorpion reminds me of an incident that occurred during the Mexican beach vacation I took last year.  I thought I was living like royalty as I paid $75 per night for a clean room and all the food and booze I cared to consume at a hotel catering to Mexican families. 

Only when I snuck into a nearby resort on a futile quest to obtain an English language newspaper did I realize that I was a relative pauper.  I blew past an initial wave of security guards with the gringo excuse of “no hablo español” and discovered a hidden realm of exceptional luxury.  Dozens of perfectly-toned Europeans wearing swimsuits the size of peso notes lounged around a spectacular water complex that made the centerpiece of my hotel seem like a plastic wading pool.  I was unceremoniously escorted out before my beggarly presence spoiled the luxe setting.

Even though I’m ostensibly welcome to bask in the lavish atmosphere of Scorpion for as long as I like, the recording makes me feel like a shabby outsider crashing a swanky gala.  Drake appears to disdain everyone who hasn’t achieved similar levels of success.  Given that he seems miserable, I have no interest in trading places with the world’s most popular rapper.  He may spend more money in an afternoon than I make in a decade, but Drake seems lonely, bitter and petty on the sadly revealing Scorpion.  That’s “God’s Plan”.


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My five favorite sets at the Middle of the Map festival were by Spoon, Mx.Mrs Btrfly, Jade Jackson, Rick Maun and Becca Mancari.  I reviewed day one and day two of the event for The Kansas City Star.

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I featured Mysterious Clouds, Cubanisms and Logan Richardson in a mid-year music survey on KCUR’s Up To Date.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I parse the disheartening results of a Downbeat poll at Plastic Sax.

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I continue to toil at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar like a sequestered monk copying holy manuscripts.

(Original image of a beach in Mexico by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, June 29, 2018

Album Review: Justin Brown's Nyeusi


Justin Brown was shrouded in darkness the last time I caught up with the peripatetic drummer.  As a member of Thundercat’s band at the Granada in Lawrence, Kansas, Brown was heard but not seen.  (I reviewed the 2017 concert at Plastic Sax.)  Brown’s new album Nyeusi is imbued with a similarly enigmatic atmosphere.  The straight-up jazz fusion project has a few pleasing contemporary updates.  A cover of Tony Williams’ intergalactic “Circa 45” is telling.  Not even a dopey promotional video can prevent me from loving Nyeusi.


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I was awed by Kesha’s headlining appearance at the Sprint Center.  I reviewed her concert with Macklemore for The Kansas City Star.

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I examined Built To Spill in advance of the band’s appearance at the Middle of the Map festival.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star.

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The storied rock drummer Vinnie Paul has died.

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XXXTentacion was killed.  I’ll always love “Roll in Peace”.

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Eugene Pitt of The Jive Five has reportedly died.  (Tip via BGO.)

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My pal McLain Johnson is the subject of a four-minute video profile.

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Kamasi Washington perfected his over-the-top approach to celestial jazz on Heaven and Earth.  Superior in every way to his 2016 breakout album The Epic, the bigger-is-better attack on Heaven and Earth is ecstatic rather than excessive.  Because it’s so long, I tried to take a nap while I absorbed the gospel-laced release last weekend.  I didn’t sleep, but I’m pretty sure I communed with God.

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Arp’s freaky Zebra is beyond description.  Jazz, classic rock, New Age, electronica and classical elements weave in and out of the transportive mix.  RIYL: Bonobo, headphones, Weather Report.  Here’s “Nzubu”.

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A piano trio led by Harold López-Nussa finds new life in the format on Un Día Cualquiera.  The Cuban’s album is so good that I’m almost tempted to head out of town to a date on his tour of the United States.  Almost.

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What a disappointment!  Let the Trap Say Amen, a collaboration between star producer Zeytoven and Christian rapper Lecrae, had the potential to elevate the tone of the hip-hop zeitgeist.  Neither man brought his a-game.

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The Record Company is as generic as its name.  The band sounds as if it’s auditioning for an advertising agency that specializes in beer commercials on All of This Life.  Even so, I find the journeyman rock oddly comforting.  RIYL: The Wallflowers, Bob Seger fan fiction, Dan Auerbach.  Here’s the Black Crowes knockoff “The Movie Song”.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Concert Review: The LSD Tour at Starlight Theatre


As my tardy date chatted with attendants at the northwest gate of Starlight Theatre while waiting for me to deliver her ticket on Thursday, a couple members of the venue’s staff confessed that they were stunned that about 4,500 people purchased tickets to hear Dwight Yoakam play for less than an hour.

They didn’t understand that the LSD Tour was far more than the sum of its parts.  While Yoakam is the only bonafide hitmaker in the package, Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle are arguably even more culturally significant.  I’ve heard each artist perform multiple times during the past 32 years, but the rare chance to hear them on one evening was too good to pass up (especially when good seats could be secured for the bargain price of $35 at the box office on the day of the show.) 

After a convincing outing by King Leg that a pal and I characterized as sounding like Morrissey covering Roy Orbison, Earle and the Dukes played about 45 minutes of crusty country-rock.  The hard-core troubadour was as irascible as ever.  While he touched on classic original material like “Guitar Town,” “Copperhead Road” and “Transcendental Blues,” a grungy cover of “Hey Joe” provided my favorite moments.

Williams’ appearance was bittersweet.  She’s never been a dynamic performer, but Thursday’s outing was far more awkward than usual.  Sensing that it was the last time I’d see the storied songwriter, I pulled for Williams to overcome her struggles.  A series of perfect guitar solos by Nashville cat Stuart Mathis and the repurposing of “Foolishness” into a potent political rant pushed the set over the top.

Yoakam- along with Marty Stuart the most convincing country traditionalist alive- is the rare performer who can thrill audiences with an uninterrupted string of hits.  That’s probably why he apologized for playing two new songs.  He needn’t have make excuses for “Pretty Horses” and “Then Here Came Monday.”  They were as good as his old favorites.

A chintzy stage set didn’t do any of the musicians justice.  Not only did the ostensibly psychedelic video projections resemble ‘90s-era computer screensavers, the backdrop and lighting rigs were far too small for the Starlight Theatre stage.  Then again, perhaps no stage is capable of containing the outsize talents of Yoakam, Williams and Earle.


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I wrote profiles of Nikki Lane and Spoon in advance of their appearances at the Middle of the Map festival.

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I recount my experience at a battle of jazz big bands at Plastic Sax.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, June 22, 2018

I Don’t Feel Pain Anymore: Music Midway in 2018




The primary conceit of my mid-year rankings is a sanction on artist overlap in the album and song lists, an arbitrary policy that allows me to delay a verdict on Kanye West’s insistence that his abbreviated Ye, Daytona, Kids See Ghosts, Nasir and Keep That Same Energy releases are proper albums.


The Top 25 Albums of 2018 (so far)
1. Dave Holland- Uncharted Territories
2. Black Panther the Album
3. Rhye- Blood
4. Ashley Monroe- Sparrow
5. Hailu Mergia- Lala Belu
6. Logan Richardson- Blues People
7. Cardi B- Invasion of Privacy
8. Joshua Redman- Still Dreaming
9. Sons of Kemet- Your Queen Is a Reptile
10. Courtney Barnett- Tell Me How You Really Feel

11. Fantastic Negrito- Please Don’t Be Dead
12. Fatoumata Diawara- Fenfo
13. Matthew Shipp- Zero
14. Snoop Dogg Presents Bible of Love
15. Brad Mehldau- After Bach
16. Angelique Kidjo- Remain in Light
17. Bettye LaVette- Things Have Changed
18. Sly & Robbie and Nils Petter Molvaer- Nordub
19. Rich the Factor- CEO of the Blacktop
20. August Greene- August Greene

21. Meshell Ndegeocello- Ventriloquism
22. Migos- Culture II
23. Jorja Smith- Lost & Found
24. Alasdair Roberts, Amble Skuse and David McGuinness- What News
25. Arctic Monkeys- Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino


The Top 25 Songs of 2018 (so far)
1. Prince- “Nothing Compares 2 U”
2. Janelle Monaé- “Make Me Feel”
3. Kanye West- “Ghost Town”
4. Kids See Ghosts- “Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2)”
5. Nas- “Cops Shot the Kid”
6. Pusha T- “The Games We Play”
7. Sa-Roc- “Forever”
8. J Balvin featuring Jeon and Anitta- “Machika”
9. Childish Gambino- “This Is America”
10. Chris Dave and the Drumhedz featuring Anderson Paak- “Black Hole”

11. Alejandro Fernández y Los Tigres del Norte- “Para Sacarte de Mi Vida (Versión Norteña)”
12. The Breeders- “Wait in the Car”
13. Tech N9ne- “Don’t Nobody Want None”
14. Parquet Courts- “Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience”
15. Ben Miller Band- “Akira Kurosawa”
16. Black Thought- “Dostoyevsky”
17. Christina Aguilera- “Maria”
18. Orchestra Akokán- “Un Tabaco para Elegua”
19. Progger- “Housewives”
20. Tracey Thorn- “Queen”

21. Valee with Pusha T- “Miami”
22. Banda Pelillos- “No Sabes Lo Que Se Siente”
23. Kitten- “I Did It!”
24. The James Hunter Six- “I Don't Wanna Be Without You”
25. Post Malone- “Psycho”


The Top 25 Concerts of 2018 (so far)
1. Anat Cohen Tentet- Gem Theater
2. David Byrne- Muriel Kauffman Theatre
3. Uriel Herman Quartet- Black Dolphin
4. Protomartyr- Zanzabar (Louisville)
5. Pink- Sprint Center
6. Bill Frisell, Rudy Royston and Thomas Morgan- 1900 Building
7. Julien Baker- Vinyl Renaissance
8. Low Cut Connie- Doug Fir Lounge (Portland)
9. Ryan Keberle & Catharsis- Black Dolphin
10. Injury Reserve- Encore Room

11. Ghost- Rockfest at the Kansas Speedway
12. Flatbush Zombies- Providence Medical Center Amphitheater
13. Cyrille Aimée- Folly Theater
14. Drive-By Truckers- The Truman
15. Atmosphere- VooDoo
16. The Breeders- The Rave (Milwaukee)
17. Tech N9ne- Boulevardia in the West Bottoms
18. The Project H- Westport Coffee House
19. Los Texmaniacs with Flaco Jiménez- Kansas City Folk Fest at Crown Center
20. McFadden Brothers- Helzberg Hall

21. Marcus Lewis Big Band- RecordBar
22. James Taylor- Sprint Center
23. Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s “Rigoletto”- Muriel Kauffman Theater
24. Hi-Lux- Mills Record Company
25. Lucinda Williams- Starlight Theatre

(Original image of Julien Baker at Vinyl Renaissance by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, June 18, 2018

Album Review: Jorja Smith- Lost & Found


Jorja Smith’s episode of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert floored me.  The performance seemed to signal the arrival of a major talent.  Alas, the 21-year-old British woman’s debut album Lost & Found is slightly less convincing.  I was about to write it off until I was arrested by a surprising interpolation of Dizzee Rascal’s “Sirens,” my favorite song of 2007, on the eighth track.  Smith could be the next big star in the mode of Erykah Badu, D’Angelo or Lauryn Hill after all.


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I covered the first day of the Boulevardia festival for The Kansas City Star

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I analyzed the significance of Social Distortion in a forecast of the band’s appearance at Middle of the Map festival.

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I reviewed the Ryan Marquez Trio’s Moving Forward in Time at Plastic Sax.

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I was backstage in Austin Music Hall at a SWSW showcase for the All the King’s Men project in 1997.  I was on cloud nine watching a parade of stars walk past me to perform with Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana.  Fontana has died.

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At the conclusion of Matt “Guitar” Murphy’s first set at the Jazzhaus in Lawrence, Kansas, in the 1980s, I convinced two friends to abandon the club for my apartment.  I’d run out of money, but cold beer was in my refrigerator.  I’ve been haunted by that shameful decision for decades.  Murphy died last week.

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Lorraine Gordon of the Village Vanguard has died.  I’m fairly certain she’s the person who scolded me for dawdling during my first visit to the club in the 1990s.

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Jalal Mansur Nuriddin of the Last Poets has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

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If three minutes were cut from the 7:33 “Everything,” Nas’ Nasir would be close to perfect.  It’s the best of Kanye West’s recent stellar musical outburst.  My new ranking: Nasir, Kids See Ghosts, Daytona, Ye.  Another thought: it’s increasingly clear that the five-part series (Teyana Taylor’s effort is slated for release on June 22) is intended to be heard as a single song cycle.

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Nick Lowe’s new four-song collaboration with Los Straitjackets is almost as wonderful as his classic work of the 1970s.

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The four-song Consolation affirms my belief that Protomartyr is one of the most vital bands in rock.

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Jeffrey Osborne’s Worth It All suffers from a serious quality control problem.  The soul crooner’s voice is intact, but decent songs are few and far between.  Here’s the title track.

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Lower East Suite Part Three, the sloppy debut album of the Onyx Collective, is a lo-fi mess.  And that’s precisely what I like about it.  The young jazz musicians play with the reckless indifference of punks.  RIYL: the Jazz Passengers, nose-thumbing, the Lounge Lizards.

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Orange Goblin’s The Wolf Bites Back is a blast.  RIYL: Clutch, prison tattoos, Red Fang.  Here’s “In Bocca Al Lupo”.

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I listened to The Carters’ Everything Is Love once.  Never again.  RIYL: Forbes list flexing, Us Weekly, misplaced priorities.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)