Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Review: Krisitie Stremel and the 159ers- The Color of Stars

Look at that photo. It's hard to put on pretenses when you grow up in such a place. Kristie Stremel and I have deep roots in western Kansas. We both know it's not acceptable to get above your raising. Accordingly, Color of Stars, the new album by Kristie Stremel & the 159ers, fits this open landscape. Tough and unblinkingly honest, all twelve songs feature meat-and-potatoes rock in the vein of the first two Tom Petty albums. Songs like "Best Kiss" and "Unstoppable" are capable of kicking an affected indie-rocker from Atchison to Ulysses. Stremel makes me proud to be a Kansan.

I'm impressed by this Gayngs initiation.

Dick Griffey of Solar Records has died.

Kansas City Click: An email from the Power & Light District's marketing department promised that "Salvia" will headline a free concert Wednesday. They meant, of course, these guys.

Those Darlins play the Record Bar on Thursday.

(Original image of Kansas by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Review: The Gang Font at The Record Bar

A knowledgeable friend calls Dave King "the best drummer of his generation." King's electrifying performance with The Bad Plus Saturday at the Folly Theater supported that assertion. Here's my review. The drummer's work the subsequent night at The Record Bar with The Gang Font was less convincing.

Heavy layers of skronk obscured King. The bass of Greg Norton (yes, that Greg Norton) suggested that a subway line was buried just a few feet underneath the Record Bar. Keyboardist Bryan Nichols noodled like an amplified Muhal Richard Abrams while guitarist Erik Fratzke riffed frenetically.

It was real room-clearing stuff. No more than forty people showed up Sunday but only about fifteen hardy fans were on hand to endure The Gang Font's final song.

I really liked it, but much of my pleasure was derived solely from my ongoing pursuit of discovering a successful fusion of jazz and punk. The Gang Font didn't quite get there Sunday, but its effort was nonetheless superior to anything I've heard from Saccharine Trust, Greg Ginn or the Bad Brains.

The Gang Font pursued noise from several angles. Elements of Tony Williams' jazz fusion, metal reminiscent of Dillinger Escape Plan, the jam tendencies of Primus and the prog of King Crimson were referenced. The most extreme sounds were the most rewarding. When they sounded like a traditional rock band they were stunning. And the occasional subdued moments were exquisite.

After all, only then could King be fully appreciated.

Eddie Fischer died last week. Wow.

Kansas City Click: The Louis Neal Big Band plays Monday at The Blue Room.

Emmitt-Nershi jam at Crosstown Station on Tuesday.

(Original image of The Gang Font by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Anti-Review: Rich the Factor's New Album

This is not a review of Rich the Factor's new album.

I'm not even going to link to it. I'm still agitated about my experience Tuesday. An hour after the advertised start time of his in-store at a retailer on Troost, the prominent Kansas City rapper and producer hadn't made an appearance.

I had planned to purchase his new album and attend his show that night at Club Zen. I probably would have elaborated on the kind remarks I made a couple months ago. Rich might not miss a writeup from There Stands the Glass, but he probably would have appreciated the attention from the more prominent sites that regularly swaggerjack the ideas and content featured here.

But if he doesn't care, I suppose I shouldn't either.

As long as I'm crying like a baby with an unchanged diaper, I'll note that There Stands the Glass was hit with another Google "DMCA takedown notification." The post in question featured a positive review of a young Canadian pop star with a ducky name. I linked to no MP3s and the image I featured was an original photograph. No matter. I presume the artist's management didn't even bother to look and my post and mistakenly assumed I was offering music illegally. And Google obviously didn't examine my post either.

I recently created an account at "free and legal" music retailer Guvera. It was a tedious and invasive process, but I managed to extract a couple full-length albums from the site. I like Guvera's potential.

Jazz saxophonist Buddy Collette has died.

Don Partridge has died.

I'm obsessed with yet another new ECM album. Meet Nik Bartsch.

Kansas City Click: Knuckleheads hosts Edgar Winter on Thursday.

Davey's Uptown features Jucifer on Friday.

The Avett Brothers play at Crossroads KC on Saturday.

Here's something that's never been written at There Stands the Glass: Aretha Franklin is coming to Kansas City. She'll appear Sunday at the Power & Light stage.

(Generic original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Review: Bobby Watson- The Gates BBQ Suite

Original Classic. That's the name of the sauce most people reach for while dining at a Gates Bar-B-Q restaurant. It also serves as an apt description of Bobby Watson. The Plastic Sax Person of the Decade has done more than anyone to insure that Kansas City's jazz legacy remains vibrant in the new millennium.

In spite of my profound respect for Watson, I approached the new release The Gates BBQ Suite with trepidation. The concept of a traditional big band album in 2010 didn't appeal to me. I needn't have worried.

All of Watson's compositional gifts, directorial skills and prodigious improvisational talent are brought to bear on the project. While the context is a throwback to The New Testament version of the Count Basie Orchestra and Benny Carter's Further Definitions, it's hardly quaint or old-fashioned. Even if the charts don't betray the influence, the joyous, groove-based sensibility of the album hints that the compositions were designed by a man familiar with the music of Donald Byrd and Ramsey Lewis. The Gates BBQ Suite is as immediately engaging as a good pop album.

Watson's solos are, needless to say, excellent, but he never goes for the jugular. The album is about feel rather than chops. It's also gratifying to hear several members of Diverse on the album. Diverse's rhythm section of Ben Leifer and Ryan Lee shine throughout and trumpeter Herman Mehari solos on the first track.

"Sweet and Mild" is one of two less popular sauces offered at Gates. After a weekend spent enjoying The Gates BBQ Suite, that's precisely how I've come to think of the new album by Kansas City's "Original Classic."

People really like "Lowdown." Here's my review of Saturday's soggy concert by The Dukes of September.

Leonard Skinner has died.

Kansas City Click: The weekly Rural Grit Happy Hour continues Monday at The Brick.

Rich the Factor and The Jacka appear at Club Zen on Tuesday. Here's the show's promo video.

(Bobby Watson review cross-posted from Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Review: From the Land of Ice & Snow

(Disclaimer: The Embarrassment, seen above embarrassing themselves in 1982, are not a part of this project.)

Initial reports indicate that Robert Plant's new album is excellent. I've been too busy listening to From the Land of Ice & Snow to check out Band of Joy.

The new benefit album contains two hours and forty-five minutes of Led Zeppelin covers by indie rock acts from the Pacific Northwest. It works more often than not. And that's no small thing. Check out the otherwise excellent The Embarrassment butchering "Immigrant Song" above. (And don't miss the amazing dancing.) Here are quick takes on a few representative selections:

Good Times:
Rebecca Gates & The Consortium- "Four Sticks" Nifty.
Lana Rebel- "Black Dog" Cool country blues.
Lackthereof- "Heartbreaker" A brutal beatdown.
Kelly Blair Bauman- "Stairway To Heaven" In a minor miracle, this languid version actually works.
Wineland- "Hey Hey What Can I Do" Solid.
M Ward- "Bron-Yr-Aur" The biggest name on the project plays it straight.

Bad Times:
Pellet Gun- "Rock and Roll" Irony doesn't work.
Kaia- "Fool In the Rain" Insufferable.
Knock Knock- "Moby Dick" Resembles a collaboration between Ken Nordine and John Zorn.
Parks & Recreation- "All My Love" Sounds like Jack Bruce fronting The Decemberists. (Not a compliment.)

Even these failures are fascinating. I look forward to tormenting delighting friends with From the Land of Ice & Snow for the remainder of 2010. After all, "it's been a long time..."

I like Leon Russell. I love Knuckleheads. Here's my review of last night's show.

Reach made a video for "Radio Love".

Nab the free new six-song EP by John Vanderslice here. I'm glad I did.

Soca star Arrow has died. (Tip via BGO.)

Kansas City Click: "Debaser"! The Pixies return to The Uptown on Friday.

The Phoenix, the jazz-ish downtown establishment, holds a "block party" Saturday.

Shonen Knife plays the Record Bar on Sunday.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Review: Steddy P & Ces Cru at The Record Bar

Most of Kansas City's cool kids were at Crossroads Music Fest at midnight last Saturday. That meant there was plenty of elbow room at The Record Bar. I didn't mind one bit. Beautiful women were weirdly over-represented in the crowd of about one hundred. I was hit on several times in spite of my weight and hair issues. Nice!

What about the music, you ask? Oh, right... I enjoyed Dallas, even though my pal accused him of simply copying Brother Ali. Besides, he plays harmonica. Ces Cru is always great. Something's wrong with those guys- and I like that about them.

Steddy P receives plenty of coverage at There Stands the Glass. You'll note that Style Like Mind has a spot on my top 2009 album list in the column to the right. The highlight of Saturday's set occurred when Steddy P was joined by Reach and Approach during "Format." The trio are underground hip hop royalty in KC. It was a really nice moment on a really nice night.

And I was sorry to disappoint you, ladies. I'm not on the market.

I reviewed Friday's performance by The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra.

The Prairie Village Jazz Festival was a hit. Here's my recap.

Here's the promotional video for the Barclay Martin Ensemble's September 24 concert at The Folly Theater.

The Soft Reeds are one of my favorite locally-based rock bands. Here's their new video.

Sonny and Ornette together! (Tip via Steve Paul.)

Kansas City Click: Hayes Carll hits Knuckleheads Tuesday.

On Thursday, the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Bill Evans, Michael Pagan pays tribute to the pianist at Cafe Trio.

(Original image of Steddy P by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Almost Saturday Night

Bob Walkenhorst and Gary Charlson- "Almost Saturday Night" (video)

I had a very nice seven-course beer-pairing dinner with friends on Labor Day. We discussed current events, neighborhood gossip and our shared nostalgia for the Clinton era. I love my music geek colleagues, but I was relieved that I didn't need to defend my affection for Rick Ross or to explain what's sometimes described as my "jazz problem" on Monday.

The only time music came up was when my friends noted their eager anticipation for the forthcoming "Dukes of September" concert featuring Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs. It took all my self-control not to chide them. Sure, I dig Pretzel Logic and Silk Degrees, but what about the hundreds of other music options this month? As a wise friend suggested on Facebook yesterday, "it's about comfort." Normal people don't obsess about live music.

And am I ever obsessing about my options Saturday! Here's a peak into my unhealthy thought process. In order of personal preference, here are my top dozen choices:
*Crossroads Music Festival, $15
Along with the annual Pitch music showcase, this event represents one of the year's best parties. (Here's Tim Finn's excellent preview.)

*Prairie Village Jazz Festival, free
I've seen every one of the featured artists in the last twelve months but I feel obligated to support this new event. And I can walk from home.

*Pavement- Uptown, $50
Although I own physical copies of half their catalog, I'm not a rabid fan. I only bothered to catch one of Stephen Malkmus' solo tours. And the price tag makes me question my loyalty even further.

*The Winard Harper Sextet- Blue Room, $15
An old-fashioned touring band in a good room is hard to pass up.

*Blue Oyster Cult/Fran Cosmo- Old Settlers Celebration, free
B.O.C. were still playing plenty of old jams like "Astronomy" when I caught them a couple years ago.

*Indy Fest- Record Bar, $12
Steddy P and Ces Cru are always fun.

*New Ear- All Souls Unitarian Church $20
The contemporary classical ensemble interprets Toru Takemitsu Saturday.

*Mixed Method- Jardine's $5
It's my last chance to hear this electronica/prog/jazz act in 2010. And I think these guys are mad at me because I've never seen them.

*The TJ Martley Group- Mutual Musicians Foundation $5
A Facebook posting promised the music of Pharoah Sanders.

*Larry Gatlin/Crystal Gayle- Yardley Hall, $48-$125
The price of a ticket is enough to make my brown eyes blue.

*Ronnie Baker Brooks/Grady Champion- Knuckleheads, $15
A solid double bill at one of my favorite venues.

*Sherwood Benefit- BB's Lawnside BBQ (cost unknown)
Trampled Under Foot, Frank Ace, John Paul and D.C. Bellamy are among the acts scheduled to play in the parking lot.

One variable I don't have to worry about is alcohol. After overindulging Monday, I might not have another drink until October. And while Saturday has more compelling choices than usual, I go through this same exercise most every night I'm not working. Here's hoping my straight friends never find out what's really going on in head.

I wish every new album had a promotional video to back it up. Here's the advertisement for the forthcoming Lazerbeak release.

Krizz Kaliko is a borderline genius, but after watching the video for his new single "Elevator" I think I'd rather take the stairs.

Jazz saxophonist Hadley Caliman has died.

Kansas City Click: Girl Talk and Quixotic perform Friday at Crossroads KC.

I think I'll just stay home on Saturday. There's nothing going on.

A lot of hoopla is being made of Max Weinberg's big band engagement at Jardine's on Halloween. Well, it's nothing new. Kerry Strayer, for instance, leads an 18-piece ensemble at the small jazz club on Sunday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Review: Dan Marschak- Likewise

Kalil Wilson and Dan Marschak performing "Only a Fool" (video)

I don't trust young musicians who claim they have no knowledge of music outside of jazz. They're either liars or creeps. Dan Marschak is neither. While the pianist demonstrates plenty of impeccable jazz chops on his debut album, it's loaded with abrupt stylistic shifts. Likewise skips from sounds appropriate for classical concert halls to blues dives to cruise ship lounges to Yoshi's. In addition to mainstream jazz, Marschak's band evokes vintage Stevie Wonder and '70s-era Herbie Hancock. It may be jarring but everything on Likewise sounds honest and vital. I could have written a more straightforward review of Likewise, but Marschak already possesses the best blurbs imaginable. John Adams wrote “…I always enjoy listening to whatever Dan has to say musically.” And Lalo Schifrin calls Marschak "adventurous." Agreed.

Mac Lethal rhymes Ludicris with Ulysses on his new single.

I interviewed the director of the Prairie Village Jazz Festival at Plastic Sax.

I'm still waiting for Katie Herzig to receive the acclaim she deserves. Here's the trailer for her latest production.

Charles Lloyd has a new album on ECM. Listen to clips here.

Kansas City Click: Over the Rhine return to Crosstown Station on Wednesday.

Buffalo Killers play garage rock at the Record Bar on Thursday.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Review: Antibalas- Who Is This America?

Antibalas tour video promo.

Kansas City's music scene is enjoying a renaissance. Hip hop and jazz artists regularly collaborate. Quixotic, a local art/music/dance ensemble, works with Irish band Kila on Saturday. (Read Tim Finn's story here.) At tonight's First Friday celebration, fans of hip hop, jazz, country, rock and techno will happily rub shoulders. Times are good.

Budos Band's celebrated performance at The Record Bar last week, however, served as a reminder that in some ways we're still playing catch-up to New York. Another New York-based act, Antibalas, formed in 1988. Who Is This America?, their outstanding 2004 release, has just been reissued. It contains a bonus track not available on the original release.

In the current issue of The New Yorker, Sasha Frere-Jones calls Antibalas' albums "masterful mimicry" before admitting that "Antibalas does justice to Fela’s legacy." Obsessing over afrobeat authenticity at this late date misses the point. This is smart, fun (and political) dance music. Fans of Kansas City's wonderful afrobeat act Hearts of Darkness need to hear Who Is This America?.

Apple's new Ping service is like a party with no pretty girls and a cash bar.

Kansas City Click: Santa-Cali-Gon Days hosts John Anderson on Friday.

The Kansas City Symphony provides a free show Saturday at Shawnee Mission Park.

Guggenheim Grotto is among the many acts performing Sunday at the KC Irish Festival.

Mark Lowrey plays at Sullivan's on Labor Day.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Review: Green Corn Revival- Say You're a Sinner

Acoustic performance of "Never That Easy" (video)

It doesn't seem that long ago when oldies radio stations played Patsy Cline, Sam Cooke, Roy Orbison, the Righteous Brothers and Jackie Wilson. Something tells me that members of Oklahoma's Green Corn Revival also miss hearing hits by those artists on terrestrial radio. The band's cinematic sound is steeped in Americana; their songs resonate with remarkable depth. The Western-tinged material on the excellently-titled Say You're a Sinner splits the difference between Marty Robbins and the Meat Puppets. Adding to the cool quotient- the band backed Wanda Jackson at this year's SXSW. Here's proof. I unreservedly recommend Green Corn Revival to fans of Calexico, Dead Rock West and X.

Like classic Psychedelic Furs? Check out the new video for Roman Numerals' "This Motion." (Tip via Blake Y.)

I wasn't old enough to drive and I can't remember how I ended up at this Peter Hammill concert in a church basement. I was never the same after that night.

It's not easy for me to admit, but I acknowledge that The Arcade Fire's new "video" is a game-changer.

Kansas City Click: My doppelganger is at The Record Bar on Wednesday.

Slash visits the VooDoo on Thursday.