Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Concert Review: Rickie Lee Jones at Crossroads KC

Seeing Rickie Lee Jones for the first time is akin to discovering that Santa Claus is real.  It turns out that Jones really is an old-school beatnik who has no choice but to inhabit a rarefied realm in which ‘50s-era West Coast jazz and Dylanesque folk intersect.

I paid $40 for a magical 95-minute trip to Coolsville, a place where Jones raps several lines of Cypress Hill’s “(Rock) Superstar” one moment and casually mentions that she recorded her 1991 album Pop Pop with jazz luminaries including saxophonist Joe Henderson and bassist Charlie Haden in the next without seeming the least bit incongruous.

Most members of the absurdly small audience of about 300 at Crossroads KC on Sunday were Jones’ generational peers, a circumstance that allowed me to ride the rail to get an intimate view of her interactions with percussionist Mike Dillon and two crackerjack multi-instrumentalists.  I didn’t dare snap a photo.  A testy performer, Jones directed her ire at a smoker, an annoying blurter and even a passing motorcyclist in the first few minutes of the show.  I didn’t want to be her next target.

Jones went full torch singer on “Company”, delivered a bebop interpretation of “Bye Bye Blackbird” and oversaw a hot jazz reading of “Nagasaki” that she admitted was based on the 1937 arrangement by the Mills Brothers.  Without the studio polish that ruined the original recording, a version of the devastating junkie blues “Living It Up” tore me to pieces.

I won’t bother making a Christmas list in December.  Santa came early this year.


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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Concert Review: Boulevardia 2019

I abandoned Boulevardia ninety minutes before rain washed out the headlining acts Dashboard Confessional and Ha Ha Tonka on Saturday.  Abstaining from alcohol allowed me to focus on 13 performances.  Capsule reviews of my five favorite sets follow.

The Black Creatures
I’d been so nonplussed by the Black Creature’s postings at Bandcamp that I’d planned to pass on the duo’s set.  An urgent impulse to take refuge from the sun led to a wonderful discovery at a small indoor stage.  The Black Creatures’ psychedelic neo-soul recordings don’t reflect front person Jade Green’s charming stage presence.

The Greeting Committee
Vindication!  I recently came under fire for claiming that the Greeting Committee is Kansas City’s most popular rock band in an audio feature I created for KCUR.  The thousands of drunk bros and middle-aged admirers who joined the group’s core fan base of young women in singing along to greasy-kid-stuff songs like “Hands Down” proved my point.

Katy Guillen and the Drive
Kansas City loves boogie.  Guillen’s new power trio satisfies Kansas City’s abiding passion for the ‘70s guitar-rock associated with groups like Foghat, Humble Pie and Mountain.  Light rain during the group’s set enhanced my appreciation of its throwback sound.

Kelly Hunt
A publicist recently attempted to pique my interest in the re-release of the debut album by the Kansas City folk artist Kelly Hunt by unknowingly including pull quotes from my rave review of Hunt's 2018 album in her pitch.  Hunt may be my favorite musician in Kansas City.

DJ Jazzy Jeff
Does anyone else remember the 2009 brouhaha that followed DJ Jazzy Jeff’s ostensible ouster from the Power & Light District?  Saturday’s benign set was even less threatening than the Greeting Committee’s frothy rock that preceded it.  The jock jams-themed mix blended Tupac, Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” J Balvin, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Toto’s “Africa” and (tons of) Bruno Mars with the DJ’s own hits including “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”.


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I reviewed the Kansas City debut of Snarky Puppy at Plastic Sax.

(Original image of DJ Jazzy Jeff by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Heartbreak Mountain

To the best of my knowledge, I don’t harbor any repressed memories.  Even so, I possess a psychological warehouse of unpleasant recollections that I choose not to dwell on.  A handful of selections on The Complete Capitol Singles 1971-1975, a recently released collection of material by Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, plunged me back to what must be a composite memory from my childhood.  I’m alone in a parked sedan that reeks of fresh cigarette smoke and stale Coors even though the windows are down.  Second-tier country songs play on the AM radio as I pick at the sun-cracked artificial leather seat.  Thanks to the new compilation, I now know that I was hearing "The Good Ol' Days (Are Here Again)", “Made in Japan” and “Heartbreak Mountain”.  Buck and his boys were running on empty and I was just trying not to be noticed.


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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I reviewed Universal Pulse, a 2004 alliance of Mike Dillon, Earl Harvin and Arny Young, at Plastic Sax.

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Bushwick Bill of the Geto Boys has died.

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Guitarist Spencer Bohren has died.

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I don’t recall previously hearing any of the 20 revelatory songs on the 83-minute Outro Tempo II: Electronic And Contemporary Music From Brazil, 1984-1996 compilation.  While the insufferable pop production techniques associated with the era are represented, most artists subvert the harsh digital sound with acoustic flourishes that sound deliriously strange to a guy who was raised on country radio in the northern hemisphere.  (Tip via Big Steve.)

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Rainford is the Lee “Scratch” Perry album of my dreams.

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This show was among the Santana concerts I attended at the Uptown Theater about 40 years ago.  I fondly recall the sustained guitar notes and the Latin percussion workouts at the jam-oriented shows.  The new album Africa Speaks isn’t merely a return to form, it’s a significant upgrade on the band’s vintage sound.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, June 07, 2019

Concert Review: Trombone Shorty and Seratones at Crossroads KC

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue concerts are preposterous.  The garish presentations of the high-energy New Orleans band are completely over-the-top.  Every solo is presented as a heroic achievement.  About 1,000 people lapped up the shameless showboating of the nine-piece band at Crossroads KC on Tuesday, June 4.  It would have been corny if it wasn’t so effective.  The musicians back up their ostentatious grandstanding with stellar ensemble work.  Often billed as a jazz act, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue is actually a jam-oriented funk band with a thick New Orleans accent.  Fans dictate the band’s direction.  More than half the audience used the group’s occasional forays into serious jazz-based improvisations as excuses to yak at their pals on Tuesday.  Most also talked through an opening set by Seratones.  I look forward to catching the soulful Shreveport group in a more accommodating setting.


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Mac Rebennack, the Louisiana musician better known as Dr. John, has died.  A few personal notes:
*The Top 40 radio hit “Right Place, Wrong Time” blew my mind in 1973.
*A cutout copy of Desitively Bonnaroo was the first Dr. John album I purchased.
*Bluesiana Triangle is my favorite Dr. John-affiliated album.
*My adamant defense of Dr. John almost came to fisticuffs during a racially-charged argument at a bachelor party.  (I still regret my obstinance.)
*The first of the four or five Dr. John concerts I attended was in 1984.  I reviewed his 2006 appearance at the Beaumont for The Kansas City Star.
*My life partner asked Dr. John about his mojo hand during a question-and-answer session at a 2012 concert at Yardley Hall.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Album Review: Azymuth- Demos 1973-1975

At the risk of oversharing, I’ll divulge the musical component of one of my proven methods of relaxation.  Deploying shuffle mode on a playlist with a few hours of lowkey Brazilian grooves from the ‘70s and ‘80s almost always makes me feel better.  Azymuth is a key component of these emergency decompression sessions.  The group’s Brazilian twist on effervescent instrumental funk and lilting jazz fusion provides engaging but undemanding background music.  The release of Demos (1973-1975), Vol. 1 & 2 is an unexpected windfall.  Most of the 80-minute compilation is musically preferable- if sonically inferior- to Azymuth’s most popular material.  Songs like “Laranjaeiras” are in keeping with watery instrumental jams of the era like Deodato’s reading of “Also Sprach Zarathustra” and Bob James’ “Nautilus” while the least pleasing tracks are compelling studio workouts.  The unfortunate inclusion of a seven-minute drum solo that’s of interest only to beat pilferers kills the otherwise sublime restorative vibe.


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I reviewed StrangeFest 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 Ralph Peterson & The Messenger Legacy’s Legacy Alive, Volume 6 at the Side Door
at Plastic Sax.

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Ivan Conti’s impressive new album Poison Fruit doesn’t qualify for inclusion in the playlists I reference above.  Not only does it not fit into my arbitrary time frame constraints, the project by Azymuth’s adventurous 72-year-old drummer includes contemporary electronic and hip-hop elements.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, May 31, 2019

Concert Review: Nashville Pussy, Guitar Wolf and the Turbo A.C.'s at Knuckleheads

I ain’t never scared.  But as I surveyed the audience of about 250 from my perch on the upper deck of Knuckleheads’ outdoor stage on Thursday, May 30, I realized I may have been the most feeble person at the venue.  Every member of Nashville Pussy, Guitar Wolf and the Turbo A.C.’s is capable of knocking me out in seconds flat.  The bikers, the dude in jorts with a glorious mullet and even the 90-pound Guitar Wolf superfan could also have easily made quick work of me.

I didn’t pay the $20 cover charge to get beat up, so I minded my p’s-and-q’s with another sober pal.  The conventional punk band the Turbo A.C.’s were eager to please, but Guitar Wolf didn’t bother with niceties.  The storied Japanese trio played 45 minutes of confrontational noise.  The band took the stage to “Cretin Hop,” but Guitar Wolf sounded less like the Ramones than the sort of cacophony made by Keith Moon and Pete Townshend when they trashed the Who’s stage sets.  While Seiji has led his band for more than 30 years, he often played as if he never bothered to learn how to play guitar.  Needless to say, I loved every moment of Guitar Wolf’s debilitating anarchy.

My pal repeatedly insisted Nashville Pussy is “so badass.”  Rather than risk him tossing me over the railing, I heartily agreed with his enthusiastic assessment of the headliner.  The longstanding quartet exemplifies everything rock and roll should be: sexy, dangerous, defiant and subversive.  Yet Nashville Pussy’s stubborn insistence on musical competency and actual songcraft meant that the night belonged to Guitar Wolf.


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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

May Recap

Top Five Performances
1. Alisa Weilerstein, Sergey Khachatryan, Inon Barnatan and Colin Currie- Folly Theater
My review.
2. Cardi B- Providence Medical Center Amphitheater
My review.
3. Colter Wall- Madrid Theatre
My Instagram clip.
4. Der Lange Schatten- Blue Room
My review.
5. Combo Chimbita- RecordBar
My Instagram clip.


Top Five Albums
1. Jamila Woods- Legacy! Legacy!
“Are you mad? Yes, I’m mad!”
2. Flying Lotus- Flamagra
My review.
3. Tyler, The Creator- Igor
"Put it in park."
4. DJ Khaled- Father of Asahd
My review.
5. Michael Fabiano- Verdi & Donizetti
It bumps in my whip.


Top Five Songs
1. Mavis Staples- “One More Change”
I feel like going home.
2. Samantha Fish- “Love Letters”
Invisible ink.
3. Luke Combs- “Beer Never Broke My Heart”
Stuff that works.
4. Purple Mountains- “All My Happiness is Gone”
Staring into the abyss.
5. The Get Up Kids- “The Problem Is Me”
Don’t I know it.


I conducted the same exercise in April, March, February and January.

(Original image of Der Lange Schatten by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Album Review: Flying Lotus- Flamagra

I hit play on Flying Lotus’ Flamagra at exactly 11 p.m. Thursday, May 23.  You’re Dead! was my favorite album of 2014 and I’d waited four years and seven months for the follow-up by the man born Steven Ellison.  My initial reaction to Flamagra was excruciating.  I felt as if FlyLo was simply being weird for the sake of being weird.  I lamented the absence of proper songs during my second pass.  If the third time wasn’t quite the charm, I finally began to comprehend the album’s intent.  Subsequent playthroughs have delighted me.  Flamagra is a cosmic funk album as interpreted by jazz-minded musicians.  The album sounds as if Chick Corea is jamming with Funkadelic on a zero-gravity, low-oxygen rocket to Mars co-piloted by William Burroughs and Elon Musk.  One more thing: the wavy visuals for each song on Spotify suggest a strong drug orientation, but I can attest that Flamagra provides a mind-blowing experience for sober listeners.  “Black Balloon Reprise” is the most conventional track.


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I reviewed a performance by the German trio Der Lange Schatten at Plastic Sax.

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NPR created a 65-minute overview of the ECM component of the 2019 edition of the Big Ears Festival.  I was in the audience for the Carla Bley Trio and Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin sets featured in the program, but I opted to catch Nate Wooley’s appearance rather than hear the Avishai Cohen Quartet a second time.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Album Review: Craig Finn- I Need a New War

The National’s I Am Easy to Find is a tiresome slog.  I understand why fans insist there’s plenty to admire about the overbearing project, but I’ll turn to the latest release by Craig Finn if I’m inclined to listen to a new collection of sad sack songs by an aging rocker.  The Hold Steady’s front man sounds as drunk and exhausted as ever on I Need a New War.  With the glory days of the Hold Steady in his rearview mirror, Finn confronts the predicaments of middle aged Midwesterners struggling to keep it together on his grim solo album.  More direct and less bloated than I Am Easy to Find, I Need a New War hits uncomfortably close to home.  I need to keep away from sharp objects as I listen to depressive songs like “Grant at Galena”.


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I selected the top ten concerts of the summer for The Kansas City Star.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Friday on My Mind


A friend was dumbfounded when I admitted that I had yet to listen to the new release by one of his favorite bands when we met on Friday, May 17.  He couldn’t get his head around the fact that the National’s I Am Easy to Find ranked twelfth in my ranking of the day’s offerings.  I didn’t mean to give offense.  As an ecumenical music obsessive, I’m invariably intrigued by dozens of the hundreds of albums that are issued every week.  Back when I made minimum wage, I could only afford to buy a single album a week.  The streaming era means that every Friday is a bargain-priced holiday.  Ranked by my level of initial interest, a listing of 47 albums released on May 17 follows.  Bitter disappointments and wondrous surprises are always part of the fun.  My assessment will obviously change as I listen to each release.  I’m also sure to discover several additional titles that are currently under my radar.  It’s a good thing my ears rarely tire.

My Preliminary Ranking of Albums Released on May 17, 2019
1. Tyler, The Creator- Igor
2. Brad Mehldau- Finding Gabriel
3. Linda Oh- Adventurine
4. Injury Reserve- Injury Reserve
5. Dave Douglas- Devotion
6. DJ Khaled- Father of Asahd
7. Theo Croker- Star People Nation
8. Hot Suede- Hot Suede
9. Seba Kaapstad- Thina
10. John Zorn- The Hierophant

11. Christone “Kingfish” Ingram- Kingfish
12. The National- I Am Easy to Find
13. Wu-Tang Clan- Of Mics and Men
14. Nil Ciuró- Inwards
15. Jimmy Webb- SlipCover
16. Yolanda Kondonassis- American Rapture
17. Megan Thee Stallion- Fever
18. Jerusalem Quartet- The Yiddish Cabaret
19. Duckwrth- The Falling Man
20. Slowthai- Nothing Great About Britain

21. Rahsaan Patterson- Heroes & Gods
22. Michael Fabiano- Verdi & Donizetti: Opera Arias
23. Jimmie Vaughan- Baby, Please Come Home
24. Josephine Wiggs- We Fall
25. Tanika Charles- The Gumption
26. Turkuaz- Afterlife Vol. 1
27. Ozark Mountain Daredevils- Heaven 20/20
28. Albrecht Mayer- Longing for Paradise
29. Institute- Readjusting the Locks
30. Umphrey’s McGee- Anchor Drop Redux

31. Joanne Shaw Taylor- Reckless Heart
32. Various artists- Sad About the Times
33. Carly Rae Jepsen- Dedicated
34. Larry Fuller- Overjoyed
35. Olden Yolk- Living Theatre
36. The New York Philharmonic- Soloists of the New York Philharmonic
37. Aseethe- Throws
38. Wreckless Eric- Transience
39. Mary Stallings- Songs Were Made to Sing
40. Steel Pulse- Mass Manipulation

41. Martin Outram- Viola Fantasia
42. Rammstein- Rammstein
43. Sam Cohen- The Future Is Still Ringing In My Ears
44. Preston Lovinggood- Consequences
45. Jonathan Dove- The Orchestral Music of Jonathan Dove
46. The Head and the Heart- Living Mirage
47. The Cash Box Kings- Hail to the Kings!

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, May 17, 2019

Another One

“We the Best Music!”  DJ Khaled is ridiculous.  Yet because the hip-hop svengali is in on the joke, I laugh with him rather than at him.  Khaled’s Father of Asahd suffused me with unqualified joy as I drove through Kansas City with the windows rolled down today.  Hearing titans like Cardi B, Nas, Post Malone and Beyoncé rap and sing on state-of-the-art beats accentuated the gorgeous spring day.  The project’s only real flaw is yet another weak Chance the Rapper track.  Aside from providing further confirmation that Chance lost his mojo more than a year ago, Father of Asahd is indeed “another one.”  The star-studded “Holy Mountain” opens the album.


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Tyler, The Creator is a weirdo.  That’s hardly news.  Yet with the release of his new album I finally understand that he’s also a card-carrying music nerd.  Every track on the breakup-themed collection Igor seems to be based on either a dusty R&B song or a vintage pop nugget.  His radical remakes of oldies pay homage to the past even as they break new sonic ground.  Here’s “Earfquake”.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Concert Review: Alisa Weilerstein, Sergey Khachatryan, Inon Barnatan and Colin Currie at the Folly Theater

While I was tempted by several other noteworthy concerts last Friday, I opted for the auspicious quartet of cellist Alisa Weilerstein, violinist Sergey Khachatryan, pianist Inon Barnatan and percussionist Colin Currie at the Folly Theater upon discovering that almost every seat in the front row was still available a few hours prior to showtime.  The ticket I purchased in Row A provided 130 intimate minutes with the classical music luminaries.

I heard Barnatan’s every inhalation and each dramatic gasp and telling sigh emitted by Weilerstein.  I could also read the sheet music over Barnatan’s shoulder.  Ignoring the 200 people seated behind me in the 1,050-capacity theater allowed me to pretend that the event presented by The Friends of Chamber Music was a private concert intended solely for my benefit. 

Forty-four years after his death, Kansas City still isn’t ready for Dmitri Shostakovich.  An interpretation of the Russian composer’s Symphony No. 15 anchored the program.  Supplemented by two additional percussionists, that ish was lit.  Currie’s solo marimba (!) attack on new music composer Rolf Wallin’s absolutely bonkers Realismos mágicos was the zaniest thing I’ve heard in Kansas City this year. 

I mirrored the mournful expression of MacArthur genius grant recipient Weilerstein during Beethoven’s so-called Ghost trio.  Only Schoenberg’s “Verklarte Nacht” failed to move me.  A critic for The Washington Post felt differently.  The newspaper deemed the ensemble’s concert at the Kennedy Center on the previous night worthy of a review.


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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I reviewed a performance by Havilah Bruders and Paul Shinn at Plastic Sax.

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Imagine a mash-up of Nina Simone and Kendrick Lamar.  “Basquiat” is among the songs on Jamila Woods’ Legacy! Legacy! that meet that lofty speculative standard.  I need to spend more time with the album before verifying that  it’s as good as Solange’s When I Get Home, my presumptive album of the year. 

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Kansas City's (Not So) Hot 100

While trying to devise an appropriate headline for the online component of my new audio feature about the Greeting Committee for KCUR, I toyed with the premise that the indie-pop quartet is Kansas City’s most popular band.  Is that true?  I dove into Spotify’s statistics to gauge how Kansas City acts past and present stack up.  The following ranking is based on the service’s monthly listeners metric.

1. Tech N9ne 2,789,000
2. Janelle Monaé 2,748,000
3. Puddle of Mudd 2,481,000
4. Count Basie 2,342,000
5. Kevin Morby 1,230,000
6. Pat Metheny 804,000
7. Melissa Etheridge 735,000
8. Bob Brookmeyer 538,000
9. Ben Webster 538,000
10. Charlie Parker 495,000

11. Oleta Adams 416,000
12. Coleman Hawkins 375,000
13. Dreamgirl 311,000
14. Lester Young 297,000
15. Krizz Kaliko 281,000
16. Burt Bacharach 254,000
17. The Greeting Committee 188,000
18. David Cook 181,000
19. Stevie Stone 179,000
20. Norman Brown 173,000

21. The Get Up Kids 167,000
22. Mac Lethal 159,000
23. Karrin Allyson 141,000
24. Ces Cru 137,000
25. Big Scoob 130,000
26. Big Joe Turner 127,000
27. Radkey 120,000
28. The Floozies 119,000
29. Gene Clark 114,000
30. Jay McShann 113,000

31. Bloodstone 95,000
32. Kutt Calhoun 93,000
33. Samantha Fish 87,000
34. Nicolette Larson 83,000
35. Making Movies 71,000
36. Iris DeMent 70,000
37. JL 69,000
38. Kevin Mahogany 67,000
39. Hembree 59,000
40. Me Like Bees 54,000

41. Danielle Nicole 53,000
42. Brewer & Shipley 52,000
43. Joyce DiDonato 51,000
44. Reggie and the Full Effect 47,000
45. 77 Jefferson 45,000
46. Julian Vaughn 45,000
47. Krystle Warren 42,000
48. Mackenzie Nicole 38,000
49. Miles Bonny 35,000
50. Madison Ward and the Mama Bear 31,000

51. Listener 30,000
52. Nathan Davis 28,000
53. Eldar Djangirov 27,000
54. Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 27,000
55. Marva Whitney 26,000
56. The Anniversary 24,000
57. Joey Cool 21,000
58. Rich the Factor 21,000
59. Shy Boys 21,000
60. Chris Connor 16,000

61. Black Oxygen 15,000
62. Ubi 15,000
63. Various Blonde 15,000
64. Beautiful Bodies 14,000
65. Kelley Hunt 14,000
66. The Republic Tigers 12,000
67. Ha Ha Tonka 11,000
68. Coalesce 10,000
69. Jo Jones 10,000
70. Missouri 10,000

71. Shooting Star 10,000
72. Buck Clayton 9,000
73. Evalyn Awake 9,000
74. Bobby Watson 9,000
75. The Kansas City Symphony 8,000
76. Blair Bryant 6,000
77. Godemis 6,000
78. Kyla Jade 6,000
79. Julia Lee 6,000
80. Pageant Boys 6,000

81. The Rainmakers 6,000
82. 57th Street Rogue Dog Villians 5,000
83. The Kansas City Chorale 5,000
84. Bennie Moten 5,000
85. Trampled Under Foot 5,000
86. The Casket Lottery 4,000
87. The Marcus Lewis Big Band 4,000
88. Fat Tone 3,000
89. The Life and Times 3,000
90. Behzod Abduraimov 2,000

91. Calvin Arsenia 2,000
92. Mess 2,000
93. Radar State 2,000
94. Shiner 2,000
95. The Architects 1,000
96. Rex Hobart & the Misery Boys 1,000
97. Info Gates 1,000
98. Walter Page’s Blue Devils 1,000
99. Logan Richardson 1,000
100. Virgil Thomson 1,000


Notes and caveats:

*My listing- the product of three hours of racking my brain for every consequential artist from the Kansas City area- almost certainly contains several glaring omissions.  Yet before you call me an idiot for overlooking an artist, be advised that many ostensible hometown heroes are streamed by only a few hundred users each month.

*The number for Charlie Parker includes his separate listings for the Charlie Parker Quartet, the Charlie Parker Quintet, etc.  I also combined multiple entries for Count Basie, Pat Metheny, Bennie Moten and Ubi.

*Spotify updates its statistics daily.  The numbers for artists with popular new releases such as the Get Up Kids are sure to change dramatically in the following weeks.

*I recognize that the listening habits of Spotify users don’t necessarily reflect overall music consumption.  Even so, it’s among the most accurate gauges of what’s actually getting played.

*Although Eminem was born in St. Joseph, he’s not considered a local. Besides, his 28,811,000 monthly listeners make everything on my list look like a pitiful scrap.  (Khalid is currently the #1 artist in the world with 49,685,000 monthly listeners.)

*Sevendust has 1,055,000 monthly listeners, but only vocalist Lajon Witherspoon lives in the Kansas City area.

*So, is the Greeting Committee (#16) currently Kansas City’s most popular band?  Kinda sorta.

*EDIT: I’m arbitrarily boycotting Topeka artists. Here are the numbers on four notable Top City acts: Kansas- 5,362,000, Origin- 24,000, Youngblood Supercult- 21,000, Stik Figa- 7,000.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Album Review: PnB Rock- TrapStar Turnt PopStar


My dreams are often set in airports, subway stations and on highways, but last night my unconscious placed me in the role of a fashion photographer on the red carpet of a music awards show.  That’s the surprising power of PnB Rock’s tellingly titled TrapStar Turnt PopStar.  On the surface, the glossy synthetic rap album differs little from the recent work of Juice Wrld and Travis Scott.  Yet the empty musical calories of rudimentary songs like “I Like Girls” taste so good that I can’t tear myself away from the hallucinatory project.  “Middle Child” is the best track.


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I reviewed the Flyover festival at Providence Medical Center Amphitheater for The Kansas City Star.

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I grade the 2019-20 season of the Folly Jazz Series at Plastic Sax.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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The immaculate sheen Kneebody applies to songs including Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” and the Band’s “King Harvest” on By Fire fills me with so much rage that I want to throw bricks through the windows of shiny performing arts centers.  RIYL: Snarky Puppy, transcribing solos, Sting.

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Had I not seen Rhiannon Gidden and Francesco Turrisi preview the album at the Big Ears Festival in March, the duo’s enthralling intercontinental folk collaboration There Is No Other would almost certainly have struck me as insufferably twee. 

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I hope album narrations catch on.  Mark de Clive-Lowe offers insights into his latest release for the 21 Soul label.

(Original image of a highway fire by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Blame It On My Youth


My Twitter feed was inundated with posts about Kind of Blue and Time Out for International Jazz Day yesterday.  Refusing to play into the hands of cynical marketers and self-serving institutions, I didn’t write any replies.  Yet the clickbait posts soliciting answers to questions like “which jazz records changed your life?” prompted me recall becoming a discerning jazz enthusiast in the 1980s.  Then, as now, my ears were open to all genres, so jazz albums had to be just as exciting as groundbreaking music by the likes of the Clash, Prince, Public Enemy and Talking Heads.  The ten albums on the following list that I purchased as new releases in the 1980s met that standard.  Without these titles in my life during that formative decade, I may not have made a lifelong commitment to jazz.

1. Jack DeJohnette- Special Edition (1980)
2. Pat Metheny- 80/81 (1980)
3. James Blood Ulmer- Free Lancing (1981)
4. Miles Davis- Decoy (1983)
5. Wynton Marsalis- Black Codes (From the Underground) (1985)
6. John Zorn- The Big Gundown (1985)
7. Ornette Coleman- In All Languages (1987)
8. Henry Threadgill- Easily Slip Into Another World (1988)
9. Bobby Watson & Horizon- No Question About It (1988)


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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

(Original image of the Tennessee Theater at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee, by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, April 28, 2019

I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say



The New Yorker published a cartoon in 1992 that depicts excited children shouting “Dad! Dad! Wake up! They just discovered another Marsalis!” as they invade the bedroom of a sleeping man.  The gag remains relevant 27 years later.  I recently learned that Wynton Marsalis’ son Jasper creates musique concrète as Slauson Malone.  The fascinating A Quiet Farwll, 2016-2018 alludes to the jazz, classical and funk associated with his famous family but is more closely aligned with rap-adjacent sonic experiments like Earl Sweatshirt’s Some Rap Songs.  Where A Quiet Farwll, 2016-2018 acts as nightmare fuel, Wynton Marsalis’ soundtrack for the the biopic Bolden is suffused with joy.  Marsalis was the obvious candidate for the task of bringing the music of the unrecorded Buddy Bolden to life.  As with the initial recordings of Louis Armstrong, Marsalis' presumably accurate rendering of Bolden's joyfully defiant party music foreshadows much of what would follow, including the eerie sonic collages of one of the youngest members of America’s foremost musical dynasty.


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I reviewed the Chicago Plan’s appearance at the Blue Room for Plastic Sax.

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I suspect that the cover art of Ayanna Witter-Johnson’s Road Runner is a tribute to the image that adorns Joan Armatrading’s Track Record.  The art-pop collection is recommended if you like Esperanza Spalding, the new sound of London, Sting.  Here’s “Nothing Less”.

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White Denim’s Side Effects is a potent dose of jam-soaked psych-rock.  RIYL: Syd Barrett, kaleidoscopes, Umphrey’s McGee.  Here’s “NY Money”.

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As a spot-on replication of vintage soul, Kelly Finnigan’s new The Tales People Tell surpasses Durand Jones & the Indications’ impressive 2019 album American Love Call.  

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Schoolboy Q’s Crash Talk is evenly divided between despicable trash and memorable brilliance.  “Numb Numb” Juice” reveals the rapper’s worst and best impulses.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

April Recap


Top Five Performances
1. Khatia Buniatishvili- Folly Theater
My review.
2. Matt Otto, Danny Embrey, Sam Copeland and Brian Steever- Black Dolphin
My review.
3. Tatsuya Nakatani & Assif Tsahar- 1900 Building
My review.
4. tenThing- Helzberg Hall
My Instagram footage.
5. Bill MacKay- Mills Record Company
My Instagram footage.


Top Five Albums
1. Anderson Paak- Ventura
My review.
2. Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan- Epistrophy
My review.
3. Caroline Shaw/Attacca Quartet- Orange
Yet another Big Ears Festival encounter.
4. Brooks & Dunn- Reboot
My review.
5. Angelique Kidjo- Celia
Afro-Cuban makeovers.


Top Five Songs
1. Reba McEntire- “Stronger Than the Truth”
The hard stuff.
2. Kevin Abstract- “Big Wheels”
Squeaky.
3. Randy Rogers Band- “Drinking Money”
Gonna spend it all in one place.
4. Lizzo- “Jerome”
I’d hate to be him.
5. Pup- “Scorpion Hill”
Dark thoughts.


I conducted the same exercise in January, February and March.

(Original image of Bill MacKay by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Album Review: Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan- Epistrophy



I deliberately avoided appearances by Bill Frisell at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville last month.  I reasoned that I should focus on showcases by artists I’d never seen.  Even though I’ve heard the guitarist perform seven or eight times, I’m beginning to wonder if my reasoning was faulty.  Epistrophy, a set of astounding duets between Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan recorded at the Village Vanguard, is yet another addition to the already staggering mountain of evidence that Frisell may be the most brilliant musician of our time.  


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I reviewed Chris Tomlin’s concert at the Sprint Center for The Kansas City Star.

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I reviewed the Joshua Redman Quartet’s concert at the Folly Theater for Plastic Sax.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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Angry Ethiopian jazz?  Sign me up.  Black Flower’s Future Flora is RIYL Hailu Mergia, trippy jams, Sons of Kemet.

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Lizzo tries way too hard on Cuz I Love You.  The anonymous production on her ostensible breakout album makes her alacrity even less appealing.  At least I’ll always be able to say “I saw her when.”.

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The Budos Band pummels a single good idea into the ground on V.  RIYL: Link Wray, repetition, the Ventures.  Here’s “Ghost Talk”.

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Relentless Doppelganger, a live stream of malevolent bots creating entirely credible death metal, is as impressive as it is terrifying.

(Original image of Bill Frisell, Thomas Morgan and Rudy Royston by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Concert Review: Khatia Buniatishvili at the Folly Theater



I’ve witnessed the cavorting of scantily clad pop stars, the testifying of sweaty soul men and the suggestive voguing of hyper-masculine country crooners in recent months.  None of these performers possessed even half of the charisma exuded by Khatia Buniatishvili at the Folly Theater on Wednesday.  While she and Sony’s marketing department don’t hesitate to capitalize on her looks, the celebrated pianist from Batumi, Georgia, boasts the sort of magnetism that transcends her pleasing visage.  The impeccable playing of Buniatishvili emphasized extreme dynamics in an enchanting program of Shubert.  She ecstatically tossed her hair, waved her arms and contorted her body during her Kansas City debut.  Just how captivating was Buniatishvili?  The majority of the audience of about 750 stuck around for the invariably dull artist interview that follows concerts in the Harriman-Jewell Series.  I’m not the only one who can’t get enough of Buniatishvili.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Album Review: Anderson Paak- Ventura



I don’t entirely trust my enthusiasm for Anderson Paak’s Ventura.  The album is so closely attuned to my sensibilities that I suspect it’s an algorithmic swindle.  Ventura resembles what might happen if the Music Genome Project, the uncannily perceptive program designed by the creators of Pandora Music, was commissioned to create music specifically for me.  The silky throwback soul of songs like “Make It Better” are frighteningly spot-on evocations of my sonic ideal.


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I contribute weekly concert previews to The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I reviewed a recital by Assif Tsahar and Tatsuya Nakatani at Plastic Sax.

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Before music streaming services became quick and (nearly) comprehensive, I’d occasionally go on excursions at the Free Music Archive in search of interesting variations on the jam-band sound.  I invariably came up empty.  Imperfection, the new release by the New York power trio Gorgeous!, is the sort of unpolished gem I’d hoped to discover at FMA.  The group sounds like the Jimi Hendrix Experience jamming on contemporary funk.  The album contains about 20 minutes of thrilling grooves.  Unfortunately, Imperfection rambles on for 98 minutes.

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I wasn’t impressed the two times I witnessed Whitechapel spoon-feed greasy kid stuff to fidgety teenage headbangers.  The convincingly heavy The Valley, however, isn’t generic child’s play.  Here’s “When a Demon Defiles a Witch”.

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Lage Lund is accompanied by pianist Sullivan Fortner, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Tyshawn Sorey on Terrible Animals.  The auspicious lineup assembled by the guitarist doesn’t disappoint.  RIYL: Mary Halvorson, genius hiding in plain sight, Pat Metheny.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Album Review: Brooks & Dunn- Reboot


A drunk homophobe wanted to fight me because I wore a pink shirt to an Alan Jackson and Brooks & Dunn concert at Verizon Amphitheater in 2007.  I dressed less conspicuously when Brooks & Dunn headlined at the Sprint Center on its 2010 farewell tour.   Honestly, I haven’t given the duo much thought since then.  That’s why I’m astounded by my reaction to the 12 remakes featuring contemporary country stars on Reboot.  Absence definitely made my ears grow fonder.  Although I harbored only a mild affection for the songs when they were originally released, I shout along with Luke Combs on ”Brand New Man” and get weepy as Ashley McBride sings “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone”.  The comeback album is so good that even the interpretation of “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” featuring Midland resembles an unexpected visit from a long-lost friend who doesn't care what I wear.


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I contribute weekly concert previews to The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I always liked Earl Thomas Conley more than Brooks & Dunn.  Conley died yesterday.  Here’s “Holding Her and Loving You”.

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I’m still salty about the Dutchman’s listless performance at the Big Ears Festival last month, but the stirring convergence of new age, ambient and classical music on Henosis is precisely what I want from Joep Beving.  Here’s “Unus Mundus”.

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Anitta’s Kisses contains several stupendous bangers and concludes with a lovely duet with Caetano Veloso.  Aside from Snoop Dogg’s vibe-killing appearance, Kisses is delightful.  RIYL: baila funk, Ariana Grande, sunshine.  Here’s “Banana”.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, April 08, 2019

Concert Review: Durand Jones & the Indications at recordBar


I like alcohol, but I wasn’t drinking.  I like dancing, but there wasn’t room to move.  I like parties, but I felt as if I was crashing a sloppy frat kegger.  And while I possess unconditional love for old-school R&B, I could hardly hear Durand Jones & the Indications over the din of drunken conversations.  Saturday’s sold-out show at RecordBar was an enormous letdown.  Opening band Ginger Root never stood a chance.  A friend tweeted that “I’m not sure I’ll see a better live show in 2019.”  Well, the performance by the soul revivalist band wasn’t even the best concert I attended in the past week.  I rave about a quartet led by Matt Otto at Plastic Sax.  Last night’s appearance by the Norwegian brass band tenThing was also superior.  I posted amusing footage at Instagram.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, April 05, 2019

Album Review: Ex Hex- It's Real


I was a member of the target demographic for the 1980 punksploitation flick “Times Square”.  As a disaffected teen stuck in the boonies and desperate for dispatches from the punk scene in New York City, I enthusiastically acquired the soundtrack and bought a ticket to see the film the week it opened.  This gullible rube was expertly played by a cynical marketing team that made Suzi Quatro’s “Rock Hard” the theme song of the deservedly forgotten movie.  Even though tracks including “Rainbow Shiner” on Ex Hex’s It’s Real are vastly superior to “Rock Hard,” the throwback “new wave” on the album catapults me back to an almost incomprehensibly foreign era.


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

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Nipsey Hussle was gunned down on March 31.  I don’t share the hip-hop community’s adoration of the rapper.  The memory of his dreary outing at the Granada in 2009 still grates on me.

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The Chicago house vocalist Kim English has died.  Here’s “Natural High”.

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David White of Danny and the Juniors, has died.  Here’s “At the Hop”.

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There have been moments during the last 20 years in which I believed that attending Kansas City’s Rockfest was my sole reason to exist.  I don’t know what to do with myself now that this year’s blowout isn’t happening.

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Marvin Gaye's You’re the Man, the would-be follow up to What’s Going On, is only half as good as his classic 1971 work.  But man, there are still a dozen spine-tingling moments scattered throughout the newly reassembled version of the nixed project.

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Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is the love child of Lorde’s Pure Heroine and Taylor Swift’s Reputation.  Post Malone’s Beerbongs & Bentleys served as the midwife.  “Bury a Friend” is the baby picture the proud parents sold to a celebrity tabloid.

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I paid $14 to hear The Wild Reeds and Valley Queen at RecordBar on Wednesday.  The show was altogether adequate.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Album Review: Coltrane '58: The Prestige Recordings


I devoured all five hours and 38 minutes of Coltrane ‘58: The Prestige Recordings in just two listening sessions this weekend.  After devoting much of March to the avant-garde sounds of today, bingeing on one of the most disruptive artists of 1958 has been as refreshing as chugging cool water on a hot summer day.  Even though I’m familiar with most of the material on the new box set, hearing it presented in chronological order provides fresh perspectives.  I’m particularly struck by my reaction to Red Garland.  The pianist’s combination of intelligence and soulfulness on the earliest dates are awe-inspiring.  Yet Garland’s inability to adjust to Coltrane’s rapid evolution occasionally threatens to send me into a blind rage.  (To be fair, pianists Tommy Flanagan, Elmo Hope and Kenny Drew also had a hard time keeping up.)  I can only imagine Coltrane’s frustration.


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

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I reviewed Dave Scott’s In Search of Hipness and suggest that Kansas City is the land that time forgot at Plastic Sax.

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Scott Walker has died.

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Ranking Roger has died.

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The lineup of the We Out Here festival in August makes me giddy.  Round-trip flights to London start at $650.  Do I dare pull the trigger?

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Shafiq Husayn’s The Loop would be a contender for my album of the year if the songs were just a little less loopy.  RIYL: To Pimp a Butterfly, marijuana, There’s a Riot Goin’ On.

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I’m not laughing at the Faint; I’m laughing with them.  The members of the Omaha band sound as if they’re having a blast crafting variations on decades-old industrial pop and electronic funk on Egowerk.  RIYL: Front Line Assembly, Wax Trax, Front 242.  Here’s “Child Asleep”.

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(Original image of an old OJC reissue by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, March 28, 2019

March Recap


Top Five Performances
1. The Big Ears Festival
My capsule reviews of 30 sets.
2. Leikeli47- Encore Room
My Instagram clip.
3. Metallica- Sprint Center
My review.
4. Ryan Keberle & Catharsis- Mod Gallery
My review.
5. Eric Church- Sprint Center
My review.

Top Five Albums
1. Solange- When I Get Home
I no longer pine for new music from Erykah Badu.
2. Little Simz- Grey Area
A true boss.
3. Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom- Glitter Wolf
Delirious chamber jazz.
4. Willie Clayton- Excellence
Take me to the river.
5. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah- Ancestral Recall
Generational brilliance.

Top Five Songs
1. Townes Van Zandt- “Sky Blue”
Buried treasure.
2. 2 Chainz with Kendrick Lamar- “Momma I Hit a Lick”
I want it, I want it, I want it.
3. The Wild Reeds- “Moving Target”
Garage-rock perfection.
4. Zara McFarlane- "East of the River Nile”
New life for an Augustus Pablo gem.
5. Nick Lowe- “Love Starvation”
Pure pop for old people.

I conducted the same exercise in January and February.

(Original image of Dwight Andrews and Leo Wadada Smith at the Big Ears Festival by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Controlled Chaos: Thirty Sets at the Big Ears Festival

I booked a trip to Knoxville hours after discovering that the 2019 edition of the Big Ears Festival would serve as a fiftieth anniversary celebration of ECM Records.  As my ranking of 30 sets indicates, I didn’t limit my Big Ears experience to music associated with my favorite record label.

1. Art Ensemble of Chicago- Tennessee Theatre
Largely because I took in performances by the groundbreaking band during its heyday, I was skeptical about Sunday’s show.  Rather than attempting to recreate past glories, the group morphed into a rambunctious big band for the festival’s grand finale concert.  Even without the late Lester Bowie, Malachi Favors and Joseph Jarman, the Art Ensemble of Chicago continues to exude a sense of barely controlled chaos.

2. Artifacts Trio- St. John's Cathedral
The astounding new wave of forward-thinking Chicago jazz musicians rarely perform in Kansas City.  Even before I spotted Tomeka Reid on stage with the Art Ensemble of Chicago two days later, the ferocious outing by Reid, Nicole Mitchell and Mike Reed on Friday made me realize that they’re worthy heirs of that vital legacy.

3. Meredith Monk’s Cellular Songs- Bijou Theatre
Not only did I shed tears of joy on Friday, I guffawed so strenuously that people five rows in front of me turned to stare at my disruptive responses to Monk’s life-affirming work.

4. Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl- The Mill & Mine
Mary Halvorson was the most divisive artist on the lineup.  Heated arguments frequently broke out when her name was mentioned.  Halvorson’s dissonant attack elicits harsh rebukes from detractors while her advocates insist she’s the most significant guitarist to come along since the Big Three of Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny and John Scofield.  I’m no longer a doubter.  (The presence of the brilliant Ambrose Akinmusire didn’t hurt.)

5. Evan Parker’s Trance Map Plus- Bijou Theatre
What sorcery is this?  The septuagenarian’s perpetual embrace of the future makes him my role model.

6. Rhiannon Giddens- Church Street United Methodist Church
Giddens is a wondrous musical presence, but I predict that she’ll hold an even greater role as a prominent public figure 20 years from now.

7. Mathias Eick Quintet- The Standard
The Norwegians located the groovy sweet spot between Miles Davis’ Jack Johnson and Tutu.

8. Leo Wadada Smith- The Standard
Monk lives!  Smith’s unaccompanied interpretations of Thelonious Monk’s compositions were revelatory.

9. Kim Kashkashian- St. John's Cathedral
Rapturous solo viola.

10. Roomful of Teeth- Knoxville Museum of Art
The members of the a cappella vocal ensemble resemble the weird aunts and uncles of Pentatonix.

11. Alvin Lucier- Bijou Theatre
The avant-garde composer displayed his signature wit and adventurous spirit.

12. Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn- Tennessee Theatre
Iyer needs to calm down. His everything-at-once assault in a duo with Taborn was often overbearing.  The less frenetic passages were extraordinary.

13. Evan Parker's Trance Map Plus- The Mill & Mine
I fell in love with Big Ears when the festival announced this 10 a.m. pop-up exhibition of free jazz.

14. Tim Berne’s Snakeoil- Bijou  Theatre
As we say in Kansas, “that’ll put hair on your chest!”  The skronk-oriented saxophonist joked that “it’s entirely possible we’ll get dropped by the label between the third and fourth tunes.”

15. Columbia Icefield- The Standard
Nate Wooley’s reference to the poetry of Jim Harrison while the pedal steel master Susan Alcorn and guitar hero Mary Halvorson retuned encapsulates his group’s rough-and-tumble sound.

16. Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir- St. John's Cathedral
I’ll cop to showing up just to gawk at the twins depicted on the cover of Belle & Sebastian’s classic 2000 album Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant even though I was certain I’d loathe their frail music.  Instead, I was captivated by the convincing performances of Kristín Anna and Gyða Valtýsdóttir.  Like characters who escaped from the pages The Lord of the Rings, the sisters transported me to an alternate universe.  The plant seeds they hawked were among the festival’s most tempting merch offerings.

17. Carla Bley, Steve Swallow and Andy Sheppard- Tennessee Theatre
As they say on talk radio, “first time, long time.”  The highly refined outing lacked energy, but finally witnessing Swallow’s trademark electric bass work in person thrilled me.

18. Nik Bärtsch and Ronin- Tennessee Theatre
I assume the festival attendee who wore a King Crimson t-shirt is an even more ardent fan of Ronin than I.  The Swiss pianist and his collaborators including a saxophonist named Sha play prog-tinged jazz.

19. Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane and Matthew Garrison- Tennessee Theatre
The trio has improved immensely since I caught it in Kansas City two years ago.

20. Mercury Rev- The Mill & Mine
Loud rock and roll guitars sound especially good near the end of a jazz-filled day.

21. Joan La Barbara- St. John's Cathedral
I hadn’t realized that the vocal trailblazer collaborated with the late Jóhann Gunnar Jóhannsson on the Arrival soundtrack.

22. KTL- The Mill & Mine
The kids sprawled out on the floor during the loud drone cultivated by Stephen O'Malley and Peter Rehberg had the right idea.

23. Nils Frahm- Tennessee Theatre
Frahm was intent on making certain everyone at his elaborate one-man show understood that he’s extremely talented.  His curiously bass-free version of EDM didn’t do much for me, but I won’t be surprised if Frahm soon headlines 1,000-capacity venues.

24. The Comet is Coming- The Mill & Mine
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- the Comet is Coming is vastly overrated.

25. Joep Beving- Knoxville Museum of Art
Beving boasts more streams on Spotify than any artist at the festival.  The Dutchman’s effort was mystifyingly dull.

26. Moor Mother- The Standard
I’m willing to accept the possibility that the essence of this set sailed far over my head.

27. Kayhan Kahlor and Brooklyn Rider- Bijou Theatre
Tasteful to a fault.

28. Harold Budd- Bijou Theatre
29. Harold Budd- St. John's Cathedral
I take no pleasure in reporting that the ambient legend’s rare appearances were unmitigated disasters.  I went back for a second round only to verify my deeply distressing diagnosis.

30. Leo Wadada Smith- Tennessee Theater
I’d eagerly anticipated the reprise of the 1979 album Divine Love.  Alas, the trumpeter’s reunion with Dwight Andrews and vibraphonist Bobby Naughton was a shambolic mess.


What About Sons of Kemet and Makaya McCraven?
I intended to spend Saturday night at the Mill & the Mine sampling local beers while grooving to two of the most exciting acts in the world.  Yet after experiencing fatigue-induced hallucinations early Saturday evening- I didn’t consume any intoxicants during the festival- I elected to turn in early.

Wait For It...
I didn’t attempt to secure a media pass.  Instead, I paid $246.40 for a general admission wristband.  Consequently, I spent more than five hours in lines over the course of four days.  One exasperated wag suggested that only 10 people with general admission passes were allowed inside the Standard for each set.  I didn’t even attempt to gain admittance to the cozy club on Saturday or Sunday.  I made the best of the bad situation by making new friends as I cooled my heels.  The most telling indication that I was among fellow music obsessives was the absence of chatter inside the venues.

Knox in Box
I’m still thinking about a sidewalk placard advertising a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in the heart of downtown for $1,750.00 a month.  I’m so smitten by Knoxville that I’d consider relocating to the college town.  Every local I encountered was kind and gracious.  My sole knock on Knoxville is that downtown is a food desert for committed fest-goers.  Who has time for a sit-down restaurant if it means missing a set?  Barring national chains from the district is a nice idea, but the lone convenience store is an unreliable mom-and-pop operation.  I would have killed for a 7-Eleven, let alone a Trader Joe’s.

Bright Size Life
I posted video clips of 20 performances at my Instagram account.

(Original image of Craig Taborn by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Album Review: Snarky Puppy- Immigrance


Clinical studio perfection?  Check.  Ostentatious instrumental prowess?  Check.  Clever jazz references?  Check.  Insufferably smug fan base?  Check.  Snarky Puppy is the new Steely Dan.  The absence of Donald Fagen’s disdainful voice is the only substantive difference between Snarky Puppy’s Immigrance and Steely Dan albums like Aja.  Oh sure, Immigrance possesses additional components: the most dreadful moments reference the bloated pop of Toto while the best bits recall Return to Forever’s prog-rock fusion.  But it’s just a matter of time until a prankster releases a mashup of Immigrance and Aja.  I’m going to be all about it.  Here’s “Bad Kids to the Back”.


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

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I took a field trip to 424 Lounge in Leavenworth, Kansas.

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The R&B OG Andre Williams has died.  Here’s one of the Williams concert reviews I wrote for The Kansas City Star.

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The rock guitar pioneer Dick Dale has died.

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I’ve elected not to share the sordid details of the lucid dream I experienced after drifting off to the Sokratis Sinopoulos Quartet’s evocative Metamodal.  RIYL: Regina Carter, Venus de Milo, John Blake.

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I didn’t see the maturation of 2 Chainz coming.  Not only does Rap or Go to the League go down easy, the star-studded project offers nourishing food for thought.  Here’s “Money in the Way”.

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The video of Tortoise’s set at the Midwinter festival is excellent.

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It’s not funny anymore.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)