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.”


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

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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

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

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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.

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

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Cabaret vocalist Wesla Whitfield has died.

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Hip-hop pioneer Lovebug Starski has died.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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

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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.

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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”.

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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”.

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

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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”.

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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.

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God bless John Prine.

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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.)

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