Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Twenty Best Music Videos of 2011

Partly because I'm horrified by the absence of Tom Waits in my year-end albums and songs and shows lists, I was compelled to compile another list that would include the great man.

1. Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat- "Copper Top" (above)
I identify with every moment.

2. Spoek Mathambo- "Control"

3. Tyler, the Creator- "Yonkers"
A nihilistic star is born.

4. ASAP Rocky- "Purple Swag"
Can't. Stop. Watching.

5. BLNRB featuring Ukoo Flani, Radi and Jahcoozi- "Ma Bhoom Bhoom"
What in the world?

6. Beyonce- "Best Thing I Never Had"
No explanation necessary.

7. Tuneyards- "Bizness"

8. Manchester Orchestra- "Simple Math"

9. Evidence featuring Fashawn- "Same Folks"
The encounter at 3:35 floors me.

10. Tom Waits- "Satisfied"
It "scratches where I been itchin'."

11. Is Tropical- "The Greeks"
The music is just ok, but oh, the video!

12. Destroyer- "Kaputt"

13. Battles- "My Machines"
Gary Numan!

14. Sims- "Burn It Down"
I love this crew.

15. Lil Wayne- 6 Foot 7 Foot
It's all about Tammy.

16. St. Vincent- "Cruel"

17. Nicki Minaj- "Moment 4 Life"

19. Mayer Hawthorne- "A Long Time"
A sweet homage to Berry Gordy.

20. Katy Perry- "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)"
What's it to you?

Need more? Here's my list of the top 25 Kansas City music videos of 2011.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

We Play Funerals

Two of the finest musicians in the Kansas City area endured a tough gig Monday. The duo's discrete music was repeatedly drowned out by indifferent patrons at an establishment in Johnson County.

One of the band's members attempted to address the worst offenders by politely engaging them at their table as his partner vamped. The group of twenty-somethings didn't take the hint.

"We do weddings- anyone out there getting married?" the musician later asked with a murderous glare. "No? Well, we also do funerals. We play exactly the same repertoire."

A handful of attentive listeners laughed, but it really wasn't funny. More often than not, people unable to S.T.F.U. impede upon my enjoyment of live music.

Jazz giant Sam Rivers has died.

Jim "Motorhead" Sherwood , a native of Arkansas City, Kansas, died on Christmas Day. (Tip via a source who prefers to remain anonymous.)

Credential Hip Hop selects the Top 20 Kansas City Hip Hop Albums of 2011.

Kansas City Click: I need to attend two more shows to reach 365 in 2011. I have yet to pick 'em.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Review: Mark Lowrey at the RecordBar

As the year-end lists in the previous two There Stands the Glass posts indicate, my preoccupation with jazz Black American Music and hip hop persists.

That's why I recently dragged my weary carcass to the RecordBar after midnight a couple days ago for the latest installment of Mark Lowrey's series of live collaborations with hip hop artists.

It was disappointing to discover that the dozen or so B.A.M. and hip hop musicians almost outnumbered the members of the audience. Even so, what I witnessed was astounding. The monstrous funk groove drummer Ryan Lee and Lowrey created was enhanced by the guitar and vocals of Enrique Javier Chi of Making Movies.

So fresh!

I reviewed the Wilder's self-titled album.

My current pathological aversion to Americana doesn't apply to Kathleen Edwards.

I learned of the late Bill Tapia via a DJ at So charming!

Here's another "Nancy Reagan" update. (Via Wayward Blog.)

Billie Jo Spears has died. (Tip via BGO.)

Here's a mildly amusing Wakarusa tease.

Dee Spears, Willie Nelson's longtime bassist, has died. (Tip via BGO.)

Bob Burnett of the Highwaymen has died. (Tip via BGO.)

Kansas City native Bob Brookmeyer has died.

Cesaria Evora has died.

Ralph McDonald has died. (Tip via BGO.)

Mac Lethal has officially unveiled "Royal's Cap (My Ode to Kansas City)".

Year-end Kansas City music lists!

Kansas City Click: You don't want to be like me- stay home for once.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Meet Me In the Bathroom Stall: The Best Albums and Songs of 2011

The 25 Best Albums of 2011
I'd like to think that hip hop and jazz dominated my listening time in 2011 because that's where the most compelling and artistically relevant developments were taking place. I could easily list 25 interesting albums from each genre. Black Up would rate highly on both tallies. And The Race Riot Suite may very well be the Mingus Ah Um of our time.

I reluctantly hopped off the metal bandwagon in 2011. The happy medium between blissful stupidity and self-conscious theorizing became too difficult for me to locate. The post-Husker Du album David Comes To Life rescued me.

And before you ask, I have nothing against the Wilcos and Fleet Foxes of the world. I still like that stuff. If I'm going to listen to the same-old same-old, however, I prefer that it come in the form of R&B from the likes of Jill Scott and Kindred the Family Soul.

I don't expect to see There Are Rules listed elsewhere. While most people panned the album, it's hit me just as powerfully as if I had commissioned TGUK to create an angry album for a music-obsessed Midwestern guy in his forties who refuses to let go of the things he loves.

1. Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey- The Race Riot Suite

2. F*cked Up- David Comes To Life

3. Joe Lovano & Us 5- Bird Songs

4. Shabazz Palaces- Black Up

5. Tech N9ne- All 6's and 7's

6. Bill Frisell & Vinicius Cantuaria- Lagrimas Mexicanas

7. Lil Wayne- Tha Carter IV

8. Ambrose Akinmusire- When the Heart Emerges Glistening

9. Jill Scott- The Light of the Sun

10. The Get Up Kids- There Are Rules

11. Raphael Saadiq- Stone Rollin'
12. Danny Brown- XXX
13. David Binney- Graylen Epicenter
14. Bon Iver- Bon Iver
15. Hospital Ships- Lonely Twin
16. James Farm- James Farm
17. Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat- Everything's Getting Older
18. Mac Lethal- North Korean BBQ
19. Death Grips- Exmilitary
20. Orrin Evans- Captain Black Big Band
21. The Go! Team- Rolling Blackouts
22. My Morning Jacket- Circuital
23. Rev. John Wilkins- God Is Right On Time
24. Opeth- Heritage
25. The Wilders- The Wilders

The 25 Best Songs of 2011
The radio is one of the few things that still works in my 17-year-old car. The majority of these songs served as my favorite driving companions in 2011.

1. Tyler, the Creator- "Yonkers"

2. Kelly Rowland- "Motivation"

3. Jay-Z and Kanye West- "N- in Paris"

4. Ha Ha Tonka- "Usual Suspects"

5. Ledisi- "Pieces of Me"

6. Lil Wayne- "6 Foot 7 Foot"

7. ASAP Rocky- "Purple Swag"

8. Seether- "Country Song"

9. Pistol Annies- "Hell on Heels"

10. Jason Aldean- "Dirt Road Anthem"

11. Deathgrips- "Guillotine"
12. Avery Sunshine- "Ugly Part of Me"
13. Manchester Orchestra- "Simple Math"
14. Miranda Lambert- "Baggage Claim"
15. M83- "Midnight City"
16. R. Kelly- "Number One Hit"
17. Tuneyards- "Bizness"
18. Jose James- "Trouble"
19. Vybz Kartel featuring Sheba- "You & Him Deh"
20. Eric Church- "Put a Drink In My Hand"
21. Rihanna- "We Found Love"
22. Mary Mary- "Walking"
23. Spoek Mathambo- "Control"
24. Meek Mill- "Tupac Back"
25. DJ Khaled- "I'm On One"

I conducted similar recaps for 2010, 2009, 2007 and 2006. My favorite live performances of 2011 are listed here.

(Original image of Pat Green by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The 36 Best Live Performances of 2011

"The night life ain't no good life, but it's my life." I will have taken in over 365 individual performances in 2011 by New Year's Eve.. The following list of my favorite ten percent of these shows is deceptive. While hip hop is the dominant force in popular music, the genre is underrepresented. Only the charisma and vibrant catalogs of Weezy, Black Elvis, Tech and Ye and Jay allowed them to overcome their otherwise sketchy presentations. The reverse is true of jazz. Kansas City's jazz renaissance is, if anything, underrepresented here. Matt Otto and Jeff Harshbarger, pictured in the accompanying photo, are my second and third favorite musicians in Kansas City. And finally, how is it possible that Knuckleheads, the region's best venue, didn't make the cut?

1. KC Sound Collective- Blue Room

2. Deftones- VooDoo Lounge

3. Daniel Johnston with Capybara- Beaumont Club

4. Janelle Monae- Independence Events Center

5. An Evening with Virgil Thomson- Helzberg Hall

6. Matt Otto Quartet- Blue Room

7. My Morning Jacket- Uptown Theater

8. Diverse with Tony Tixier- Grant Recital Hall

9. Lil Wayne- Sprint Center

10. Joe Lovano & Us Five- Gem Theater

11. Goitse- Washington Square Park

12. Civil Wars- Crosstown Station

13. A Perfect Circle- Kansas Speedway

14. People's Liberation Big Band- RecordBar

15. Jay-Z and Kanye West- Sprint Center

16. Bon Iver- Uptown Theater

17. Motley Crue- Sprint Center

18. Tedeschi Trucks Band- Crossroads KC

19. Deborah Brown- Gem Theater

20. Enter Shikari- Sandstone

21. Pat Metheny and Larry Grenadier- Liberty Hall

22. Kool Keith- Czar Bar

23. Old Crow Medicine Show- Crossroads KC

24. Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience- VooDoo Lounge

25. Clutch- Midland Theater

26. Del McCoury with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band- Lied Center

27. Stone Sour- Penn Valley Park

28. Ingrid Fliter and the Kansas City Symphony- Lyric Theater

29. Grisly Hand- Plaza Art Fair

30. Marilyn Maye- Jardine's

31. Jonathan Butler- Gem Theater

32. Hearts of Darkness- Crosstown Station

33. Micah Herman Quintet- RecordBar

34. Tech N9ne- Midland Theater

35. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra- Helzberg Hall

36. Guns N' Roses- Sprint Center

I conducted similar exercises in 2010 and 2009.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Top 25 Kansas City Music Videos of 2011

While I'm a bit embarrassed that a twee pop song tops a list loaded with gangsta rappers, I simply can't resist Hidden Pictures' suffocatingly cute video.

1. Hidden Pictures- "Anne Apparently"
2. Greg Enemy - "Sophisticated Goon Sh*t"
3. Hospital Ships- "Galaxies"
4. XV- "Awesome"
5. Stik Figa and Ron Ron- "Caked Up"
6. Hammerlord- "Tombstone Piledriver"
7. Big Scoob- "All I Kno is Hood"
8. The Latenight Callers- "The Tease"
9. Girls With Guitars featuring Samantha Fish- "B*tch"
10. Mac Lethal- "Something I Can Heart"
11. Ces Cru featuring Mac Lethal- "Guntitled"
12. Ron Ron- "The Ghetto"
13. The Popper feat. Tech N9ne, Ron Ron & Donta Slusha- "For the Mo"
14. Ubiquitous- "Roadwork"
15. Minden- "Gold Standard"
16. Tech N9ne- "He's a Mental Giant"
17. Dinero Fazil- "Mi Vida Escrita en Papeles"
18. Cash Image- "'Round Here"
19. Dutch Newman- "Do You Like Mine"
20. Mon EG- featuring Lil Boosie- "Dime Piece"
21. Nesto the Owner- "Man In My City"
22. Steddy P- "Live Your Life"
23. Dutch Newman- "Sean Malto"
24. Beama featuring JL and Big Ben- "Street Session"
25. Red Line Chemistry- "You Don't Get It"

Mac Lethal's "Look at Me Now" merits an honorable mention for raking in 9 million views in two weeks.

I conducted the same exercise in 2010.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Everything's Getting Older

I found my musical soulmate. Having come to the conclusion that my personal preferences in music had become so oddly deformed that no one could possibly share my love of free jazz, hip hop and metal, I discovered a year-end 50 favorite albums list that correlates with my interests. Craig Taborn and Tech N9ne? I am not alone.

My new best friend's list does not include Everything's Getting Older, the new album by Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells. It's tentatively placed at #18 on year-end my list.

Esperanza Spaulding, Van der Graaf Generator, Wayne Shorter and Marianne Faithful? Montreal Jazz Festival , here I come.

Barbara Orbison and I didn't get along. She died Tuesday.

Dobie Gray has died.

What price loyalty? I'm taking a beating at Plastic Sax and in the real world for not aligning myself with an angry mob.

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Hubert and Howard

Life can be painful for inveterate music nerds. The spiritual and earthly highs music affords are often matched by extended periods of despair and sorrow. The last few days have been particularly difficult.

My music-related day job has been an emotional roller coaster. And a friend who owns a troubled nightclub has been vilified by many otherwise decent people. Meanwhile, many of the musicians I admire are scrambling to find alternative venues. Last night I was horrified as dozens of oblivious people spoiled otherwise exquisite acoustic performances by Brandi Carlile and the Secret Sisters. (Here's my review.)

And then there's the upsetting news of the deaths of Hubert Sumlin and Howard Tate.

I've been on Sumlin since I first heard Lindsay Shannon play Howlin' Wolf back when KCUR hosted the blues hound's weekly radio show. Exposure to Sumlin didn't make me throw away my Elton John and Aerosmith albums, but I was electrified by the ferocity of tracks like "Evil". You can imagine how magical my charmed life seemed when I soon discovered that I could sneak into the Grand Emporium to see the man who transformed American music. I never missed a chance to see Sumlin. Here are my notes and a photo documenting his final appearance in Kansas City last February.

While I probably saw Sumlin a dozen times, I don't believe I ever heard Tate sing. The great soul singer's life was complicated. I heard about Tate's initial sides from mentors like There Stands the Glass reader BGO. When he was "rediscovered" a few years ago, I snatched up Tate's recordings along with all the other hopeless crate diggers.

We're all gonna die, and expressing shock upon the deaths of old men is silly. Even so, each inevitable loss chips away at the very foundation of music nerds like me.

Nerds compile year-end lists, and my first published entry of 2011 is up at Plastic Sax.

Kansas City Click: New Jazz Order perform Tuesday at Harling's.

The Knux appear at the Riot Room on Wednesday. The nudity in the linked video is shocking!

Mavis Staples graces Helzberg Hall on Thursday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Review: Jay-Z and Kanye West at Sprint Center

That sh*t cray.

Proper photos accompany Joel Francis' official review of Tuesday's show.

J. Blackfoot has died. (Tip via BGO.)

2,500,00-plus views in 48 hours? More power to you, Mac Lethal.

After managing to leave it alone for a couple months, I'm messing around at Turntable again. Let me know if you want to hang out.

Mojo's Top 50 Albums of 2011 list contains only one title that appears in my tentative Top 10. Between my affinity for both popular hip hop and unpopular jazz, I'm a veritable misfit toy.

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: Ha Ha Tonka at the RecordBar

I'm surely not the only Midwestern music fan who instinctively compares Ha Ha Tonka to the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. While separated by about three decades, both roots-oriented acts sprung out of Springfield. Their members even bear an uncanny time-adjusted resemblance to one another.

Ha Ha Tonka's November 23 show at the RecordBar reminded me that the comparison is a bit misleading. O.M.D. had a proclivity for boogie. H.H.T.'s ramshackle rock and quiet harmony singing largely avoided that tempting trap on Thanksgiving Eve. The only false step was an annoying cover of "Pumped Up Kicks." I had so much fun that I was never even tempted to chat up the former NBA player and the boy band superstar standing just a few feet away from me.

Will H.H.T. ever have a "Jackie Blue"-style hit? O.M.D. had the support of producer Glyn Johns and the major label machinery. H.H.T.'s three albums have been issued by small but proud alt-country label Bloodshot Records. The odds against great songs like "Usual Suspects", consequently, are almost insurmountable. Even so, there's no shame in becoming the next version of The Gourds.

I monitored the final round of Sonic Spectrum's music trivia last night. Had I been playing for keeps, I would have been tempted to overturn a table in a fit of self-loathing for failing to identify this gem.

I'm a big fan of my Kansas City jazz blog Plastic Sax.

Kansas City Click: You know where to find me Tuesday evening.

Max Groove appears Wednesday at Chaz.

Kinky Friedman does whatever it is he does Thursday at Knuckleheads.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Paul Motian, 1931-2011

An anecdote from Thanksgiving morning serves as a testamonial to the music of Paul Motian. I played I Have the Room Above Her at high volume as members of my compound busily prepared a Thanksgiving meal. Aside from a couple comments concerning the "angry" playing of Joe Lovano, no one complained about listening to the free jazz trio of Motian, Lovano and Bill Frisell. Even people who prefer the likes of Adele and Willie Nelson recognized that Motian's music was both artful and compelling. Motian died Tuesday.

I interviewed Karrin Allyson at Plastic Sax.

Andrea True has died.

I have yet to make up my mind about the complicated hit album by Rhymes-with-snake.

My (re)discovery of the month: Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux.

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: The Kansas City Wind Symphony at Village Presbyterian Church

Cut it out! During each of the last three concerts I've attended at Village Presbyterian Church, the bandleader apologized for his ensemble's progressive leanings. The most recent culprit was Dr. Phillip C. Posey, conductor of the Kansas City Wind Symphony.

His attempt to sell the ensemble's forthcoming "Music for the 21st Century" program featuring selections by Vaclav Nelhybel, Ron Nelson and Charles Ives sounded like a pitiful disclaimer at Sunday's jazz-themed concert.

"Yes, it's got some weird stuff on it," he said. "But it's got some wonderful stuff on it, too."

The contrite commentary by Matthew Christopher Shepard of Te Deum (my review) and the church's own Mark Bell of the Village Presbyterian Choir (my review) was similarly disappointing and entirely unnecessary.

Posey, Shepard and Bell should be proud of their bold choices. Gentlemen- you have a strong vision. Own it. I understand that some people don't want to be exposed to unfamiliar music. And sure, the way the audience of about 350 enthusiastically clapped along to J.F. Wagner's Under the Double Eagle March at Sunday's concert was unsettling on more than one level.

Don't become discouraged by the naysayers. Your desire to present interesting music is precisely why I'll continue to patronize your programs. For what it's worth, I've got your back.

I'd hoped to offer a detailed analysis of the concert, particularly pianist James Cockman's work on Rhapsody in Blue, but I was seated near an unruly toddler. The child's incessant yammering, coughing, sneezing and hiccuping didn't allow me to listen attentively.

Here's my review of Tech N9ne's sold-out concert Saturday at the Midland Theater. Don't miss the comments.

XV's new video is, well, "Awesome.

The trailer for The Other F Word elicited a knowing smile out of me.

Oh my dear Lord!

I listened to the new Bjork album on repeat yesterday. It finally took.

Here's the trailer for a documentary about Split Lip Rayfield. (Via Back to Rockville.)

As the video for "The Game" by J-Young indicates, Kansas City can be a hard town. (Via Credentials Hip Hop.)

Kansas City Click: New Jazz Order return to Harling's on Tuesday.

I once worked in a warehouse with a member of Foxy Foxy/Sacrifice Isaac. I guess the band(s) has reformed, because an act by that name(s) is performing at The Riot Room on Wednesday.

Thanksgiving breakfast dance returns to Kansas National Guard Armory on Thanksgiving! Due to an unfortunate incident following Millie Jackson's show three years ago, I've been permanently banned from attending these magical functions.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jackie Leven, 1950-2011

I used the sad news of the passing of Jackie Leven as an excuse to go crate digging in my own basement. I knew I had at least one album by Leven's band Doll by Doll in my dank subterranean storage space. The sticker on the album's Jem Imports sleeve indicates that I picked up Doll By Doll's Gypsy Blood at Kief's in Lawrence for 99 cents. I'm too lazy to load it up on my USB turntable and none of the streaming services I use has the album. At least Rdio offers a lengthy positive review. I remember it as a sincere collection of overwrought pub rock, sort of like a roots-oriented version of Phil Lynott. In fact, it's exactly like this.

It's a good thing I'm not creeped out by dead spiders. I did become mortified in my basement as I was reminded of my misguided habits as a formerly obsessive record collector. Why did I feel compelled to own every album by wildly inconsistent artists like Graham Parker and Smokey Robinson? And the hundreds of flyers I took in cutout bins yielded as many misses (Sea Level anyone?) as hits (Garland Jeffreys).

I still don't get Google Music.

Laura Kennedy of the Bush Tetras has died. (Tip via BGO.)

I know this is sacrilege, but Aimless Love is my favorite John Prine album.

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review: Te Deum Chamber Choir at Village Presbyterian Church

Do you suppose that astral travel is possible? Based on the camera angles he or she selected, the person who shot this footage of Te Deum performing at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is a believer. I experienced a momentary out-of-body experience at Village Presbyterian Church as Te Deum performed Bach's Jesu, Meine Freude on Sunday afternoon.

Bach's righteous evocation of God inspires transcendental thoughts, especially when performed with the exquisite mastery demonstrated by Te Deum. Aside from a tendency for the sopranos to overwhelm the rest of the ensemble, Te Deum was perfect. The Rosicrucian text featured in Britten's A.M.D.G. was startling, but the program's primary attraction for me was James MacMillan's Te Deum. Matthew Christopher Shepard, Te Deum's Artistic Director and Conductor, prepared conservative members of the audience for the discordant elements of the 2001 composition.

"I assure you that whatever you hear them sing is accurate," he warned. "Although it may not seem so."

The amazing performance showcased the power of the choir's powerful voices and the chapel's excellent acoustics. It's too bad that so few people under the age of fifty were among the audience of about 300. Kansas Citians who enjoy Bjork and Sigor Ros should consider investigating Te Deum. The ensemble's next performances are March 24-25, 2012.

I reviewed Friday's concert by Iris DeMent and Greg Brown.

In my former life as an indie label sales rep, I was often expected to entertain and accommodate touring musicians. I loathed that aspect of my job. Jock-sniffing and babysitting were never my things. Every once in a while, however, I'd encounter a musician who was neither needy nor insecure. Kind, smart and funny, Doyle Bramhall was one of the most impressive musicians I've met. He died Saturday.

I didn't laugh when I saw that someone posted that Guns N' Roses' appearance Saturday at Sprint Center was the best concert they'd ever seen. Nor would I roll my eyes if another person claimed that Saturday represented the worst music experience they'd ever endured. I'd planned to catch the Jayhawks at the Beaumont that night, but when a Groupon deal reduced the price of admission for Guns N' Roses's big show to $25, I reluctantly opted for Axl. No regrets. Here's Tim Finn's review.

The Weezer Cruise!

Is Steel Panther hilarious or just a sign that the end time is nigh?

I intend to stay home for the first time in five days to watch college basketball and listen to the highly-anticipated new album by rhymes-with-mistake tonight. (I've received a D.M.C.A. notification from Google every time I've merely mentioned the star's actual name at There Stands the Glass.)

Kansas City Click: Mates of State perform Tuesday at the RecordBar.

Lydia Loveless returns to Davey's on Wednesday.

Dax Riggs is booked at the Czar Bar on Thursday.

(Original image of Te Deum at Village Presbyterian Church by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Heavy D, 1967-2011

News of the death of Heavy D hit me hard for the most ungenerous of reasons. We had age and body type in common. Much of his 1987 debut sounds dated now, but trust me, Heavy D was once a huge star. Time keeps on slipping'...

My feature on Hermon Mehari and Kansas City's jazz scene is the cover story of this week's Ink magazine.

I'm intrigued by Rez Abbasi's new album.

Visqueen is calling it quits.

Hammerlord's annual Hammerween gig is always fun. Here's footage of this year's event.

The Low Anthem's What the Crow Brings is available as a free download at NoiseTrade.

Jimmy Norman has died. (Tip via BGO.)

You know, Chinese Democracy isn't that bad.

Kansas City Click: Here are my official picks.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Review: David Budway- A New Kiss

Classical recital by David Budway at YouTube.

Jazz musicians are accustomed to all sorts of indignities. Pianist David Budway would be justified if he feels slighted by the way the individual tracks from the CD version his new album A New Kiss are labeled when ripped to iTunes.

"Japanese Brunch," the first track, is credited to Marcus Strickland. Sure, the saxophonist who guests on the selection is one of the "it" players of moment, but still… The second song is listed as "Brandon Marsalis" [sic]. Sure enough, the star is featured on the ballad, but c'mon man! Tracks 3 through 9 are credited to Jeff "Tain" Watts. An insult? Maybe. Yet the drummer has never sounded better. Guitarist Ron Affif takes the honors on the tenth song and accordionist Joe "Sonny" Barbato is listed on the final track, a fascinating fusion of Arabic sounds and jazz already familiar to fans of Kansas City-based band Alaturka.

I typically don't pay much attention to the way individual MP3s are tagged, so maybe this is merely business as usual. It's also conceivable that Budway approved of these tags, viewing the concept as a savvy marketing ploy by the consistently excellent MaxJazz label. Budway may not have a particularly salable name, but A New Kiss shows that he's a formidable pianist. His solo rendition of "'Round Midnight" is great and his unaccompanied take on "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" is absolutely stunning. "Love You Tonight" is one of the prettiest things I've heard in 2011.

Anyone fortunate enough to hear A New Kiss will know that it ultimately doesn't matter who gets the credit for the remarkable music the album contains.

EDIT: Clayton McDonnell of MaxJazz responds:
Thanks for your review of Budway’s recording. We’re aware of the Branford misspelling and are having it fixed. Obviously, we didn’t deliver it that way since other services, including Amazon, have his name spelled correctly. When our distributor encodes a recording for digital distribution we provide them as much information as possible, and listing the personnel is the only way a consumer will know who appears on the recording. We feel it’s important these musicians are recognized. Once the content is delivered, it’s out of our control as to how each retailer will list the information. Both iTunes and Amazon have the names listed the way we intended, with Budway appearing first. Keep in mind the cover art also appears next to each track, so if ‘Tain’ is listed first, at least the customer has the cover art as a reference. If you want to let me know which retailer you were using I’ll see that the mistakes are corrected. These are just some of the challenges we’re facing in the digital environment. If you feel inclined to update your blog with any of this information we would appreciate it.

The news that Radiohead will perform an arena show in Kansas City has many of my colleagues giddy. I like Radiohead, but the announcement doesn't send a thrill up my leg. Off the top of my head, here are ten acts that would make me all tingly inside if they were to come to Kansas City: Arab Strap/Aidan Moffat, Erykah Badu backed by a jazz band, Anthony Braxton, Ornette Coleman, Aretha Franklin (all-gospel concert), Gilberto Gil, Metallica/Lou Reed, Nas (backed by the likes of Robert Glasper), Cecil Taylor and The Zombies.

Tech N9ne turns forty today. Here's his new video.

Oh, Janelle Monae! What were you thinking?

Nicholas Payton's B*tches, one of the most intriguing projects of 2011, is now available as an official release.

Steddy P. has a new video for "Live Your Life".

I was too wussy to drive to Lawrence for Tuneyards' show last night. Here's footage.

I'd refer to Hobo Tone's new video as "Spelling Trouble," but he gets a pass because he titled his new project Hobolavirus. I also like this quintessential Kansas City hip hop line: "You punk *ss rappers are going to learn to respect mine/ Most of y'all trying to sound like Rich and Tech N9ne."

What's in Henry Rollins' bag? A whole lotta noise.

I'm late to the Animal Man party. This is hilarious (and adorable).

Kansas City Click: Joe Lally of Fugazi is at the Record Bar on Tuesday.

Max Groove returns to Chaz on Wednesday.

1911 Restaurant & Lounge hosts Alejandro Escovedo on Thursday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, November 04, 2011

Stylus Style

I almost fell off the wagon this week. No, not booze- records. I accidentally stumbled across this guy on YouTube. Sure, he's a geek, but he's my kind of geek. It's easy to mock record nerds, but Lord help me, I really wish I could spend all weekend crate digging.

Here's my review of last night's concert by James Galway.

If Ear X-tacy- can't make it...

Pianist Walter Norris has died.

Listen to excerpts of Keith Jarrett's Rio new album here.

Miranda Lambert's new album is pretty darn good.

I listened to the new collection of Smile outtakes today. They gave me a headache.

Man Bear's Talking Drunk at 2 a.m. is available as a free download. RIYL: Don't Tell a Soul.

Kansas City Click: My official show picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Review: Murs- Love and Rockets Vol. 1

Murs- "316 Ways" video stream

Murs may have cut his hair but he didn't fall off. Like a reverse Samson, in fact, Murs demonstrates renewed vigor on his new album Love & Rockets, Vol. 1: The Transformation. Maybe I'm looking in all the wrong places, but it seems like the project is being roundly ignored. "316 Ways" is vicious- watch the video already- but most of the album is far more relaxed. "Eazy-E" is a joyous tribute to West Coast hip hop. More than a mere celebration of jetsetting, "International" encourages listeners to travel. "Remember 2 Forget" is about the unwelcome recalcitrance of our hearts. A hip hop rarity, "Animal Style" tells a tragic story about the consequences of homophobia. I don't even miss the dreads.

Just because Herbie Hancock is one of my heroes doesn't mean I'm incapable of giving him a bad review.

I liked seeing and smelling manure on the sidewalks of Grand Boulevard. Here's my report on the American Royal's debut at Sprint Center.

Exibit #231 in the case against OFWGKTA.

I love the handy video preview for Wale's new album.

Listen to Erin KcKeown's F*ck That: The Anti-Holiday Album here.

The Granny Smith Theorem, a new mix tape by Les Izmore and D/Will, is available now.

The music on the new video by Stik Figa and D. Will begins around the 2:30 mark.

Kansas City Click: The Toasters play the Riot Room on Tuesday.

Tommy Womack returns to Davey's on Wednesday.

The Smoking Popes visit Riot Room on Thursday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Kemper Countdown

Kemper Arena may soon collapse for good. I'll always remember it as the one-time home of the Kings. Before the NBA became popular, my dad regularly scored courtside seats. Seeing players like George Gervin and Darryl Dawkins up close had a huge impact on my world view. It wasn't much of a music venue, but I saw dozens of concerts at the old barn. Here are my ten favorite music experiences at Kemper Arena:
1. Marvin Gaye- I saw more women's underwear on the night of June 26, 1983, than I've seen in the subsequent 28 years.
2. The Who- Alas, after the death of Keith Moon.
3. Bruce Springsteen- I first saw him at Kemper in 1981, but I preferred the 2002 tour in support of The Rising.
4. Prince- What a freak!
5. Tool- The first time is always the best.
6. Christina Aguilera- The girl put on a show.
7. T.I.- I love being in the midst of thousands of people who are losing their collective sh*t.
8. Bob Seger- It seems improbable now, but he was once a superstar.
9. Dixie Chicks- They threw it all away.
10. Bob Dylan- He was monumentally awful.

I don't care what you think- I like Coldplay. Even so, the video for "Paradise" isn't nearly as good as the opening theme of the The Banana Splits.

While I'm still on the fence about Terri Lyne Carrington's new album, this video of a live performance is excellent.

I'll spend much of next week studying Danny Brown's new project.

"Hornets! Hornets!" Please sing along for me tonight at The Midland.

Kansas City Click: Here are my official picks.

(Original image of 8th row ticket (!) by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: John Tavener's Lament For Jerusalem at Village Presbyterian Church

A blurb on the cover of the program for Sunday's performance of the 2003 composition Lament For Jerusalem: A Mystical Love Song suggests that the concert was the "Mid-west" [sic] premier [sic] of a new choral/orchestra work by John Tavener".

Awkward and misleading wording aside, it's surprising that Tavener's work had yet to be performed in Kansas City. The composition's accessibility and extreme political correctness make it a natural fit for the region's kind sensibility. Perhaps logistics have been the barrier. A massive ensemble- 68 voices in the choir, 25 musicians in the orchestra, countertenor Jay Carter (a revelation) and soprano Sarah Tannehill Anderson performed the piece at Village Presbyterian Church.

Lament For Jerusalem's primary theme was repeated several times while the choir's contribution occasionally resembled a less ominous version of "O Fortuna". Based on Judaic, Christian and Islamic texts, the epic piece examines the ongoing battle to control Jerusalem. I sat near the front of the chapel so I don't have a sense of the how the audience of about 400 responded to the piece. I enjoyed it enough to add Naxos' version to my next Amazon order.

The same ensemble will reprise the composition at 2 p.m. Sunday, October 30, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help - Redemptorist Catholic Church. Recommended.

I reviewed Joe Lovano and Us 5's appearance at the Gem Theater.

I went to the wrong shows Saturday. I'll forever regret failing to attend Vincente Fernandez's concert at Sprint Center.

Bassist Ben Williams is featured in one of NPR's "Tiny Desk Concerts."

Edmundo Ros has died. (Tip via BGO.)

The best new Peter Gabriel album isn't by Peter Gabriel. Old-school fans of Melt will be astonished by M83.

Kansas City Click: Helmet- yes, that Helmet- play the Riot Room on Tuesday.

Cavalera Conspiracy (don't click on the link) visit the Midland on Wednesday.

The Hold Steady finally makes its Kansas City debut Thursday at the Midland Theater.

(Original image of cringe-worthy car bumper by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review: An Evening With Virgil T. at Helzberg Hall

The seven dollars I invested in an "obstructed view" ticket to Thursday's Homecoming: An Evening with Virgil T. concert at Helzberg Hall might be the best money I've spent all year.

Although Virgil Thomson is Kansas City's best known classical composer, I'm only familiar with his score for The River. A learned gentleman of my acquaintance repeatedly referred to the event as a tribute to Aaron Copland. Thomson has become a stranger in his own home town. That's one reason the event was significant. The other was the inspired collection of local musicians assembled by Nathan Granner.

Here are a few of my favorite moments:
*Mezzo-soprano Elaine Fox's vocals on William Blake's The Tiger! were enthralling.

*Two selections from the opera Four Saints in Three Acts floored me. I'm deeply embarrassed by my ignorance of this work.

*Given my predilections, it's not surprising that The People's Liberation Big Band's rendition of Overture: The Mother of Us All was my favorite piece of the night.

*Shay Estes, an occasional PLBB collaborator, startled me during an appearance by The Monocle. She just keeps getting better.

*An unaccompanied solo accordion piece by Kyle Dalquist amazed me.

*The concert was filmed for use in a public television documentary about Thomson. Watching annoyed patrons in the good seats shield their eyes from the glare of camera lights amused me.

About that obstructed view seat: The piano sounded as if it was coming from the Kauffman Center's lobby. Much of the commentary by Crosby Kemper III and Dr. Andrew Granade was impossible to make out. I would have liked to have heard what Kemper said about a composition titled "Cynthia Kemper: A Fanfare," but his remarks were inaudible.

Full when the concert began, about ninety percent of the people in my section didn't return after intermission. About a quarter of the entire audience of approximately 1,200 departed at the same time.

I sat in prime seats during my three previous visits to Helzberg Hall. The sound was perfect. I can now confirm the discontented grumbling I've heard from friends and associates- until corrections are made, the oft-repeated notion that there's no such thing as a bad seat in Helzberg Hall is a fallacy.

Even so, I would have paid ten times more for the remarkable experience I enjoyed Thursday.

I can no longer deny the genius of Tune-Yards.

You can have Mayer Hawthorne and Raphael Saadiq. I choose Jose James.

Here's ECM's audio player for Stefano Battaglia Trio's The River of Anyder. This represents my happy place.

Spotify tech question- how do I view all available albums by an artist or composer?

Sports fans need to hear Billy Bob Thornton's finest moment (not kidding) before the conclusion of the World Series.

Blues pianist Earl Gilliam has died.

Kansas City Click: My official picks of the week are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: Kindred the Family Soul- Love Has No Recession

Kindred the Family Soul- "Sticking With You" video stream

I derive more pleasure from Rihanna's pop songs than a teenager. I freely whip my hair back and forth. Yet I reluctantly acknowledge my status as an adult. That's why I embrace Kindred the Family Soul. Love Has No Recession, the new album by the husband-and-wife duo, is music for grownups. Its songs address real-life relationship issues in the context of today's economic climate. Anyone who's still lamenting the loss of Nick Ashford needs this album in her or her life.

I'm a sucker for bluegrass-meets-jazz and bluegrass-meets-classical collaborations. I'm charmed, consequently, by the Goat Herd Sessions.

Pete Rugolo has died. (Tip via BGO.)

I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I really enjoy the new Pearl Jam album.

"Still Tippin'": Have you seen this slice of insanity from ASAP Rocky?

Kansas City Click: Milagres plays the Riot Room on Tuesday.

Kim Richey sings at the Record Bar on Wednesday.

Mayer Hawthorne is on Thursday bill at the Midland Theater. I love the concept of this video.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bert Jansch, 1943-2011

My first exposure to Bert Jansch was his 1990 album Sketches. My coworker, the late Dan Conn, played it when a promotional copy crossed his desk. The third track, "Poison", floored me. I've been captivated by the Scotsman's music ever since.

Jansch died last week. Rather than immersing myself in Jansch's music, I've been listening to living artists of the same ilk. It's a gross oversimplification, but Jansch was like a quieter Richard Thompson, a more muscular Nick Drake or a Scottish version of Chris Smither. I've also returned to the music of June Tabor and Roy Harper. This recent Harper appearance on BBC Breakfast is totes-awk.

A reader asked for an album recommendation. Pentangle was a bit too precious for me, so I'll suggest he start by checking out the traditional "Blackwater Slide" . If he likes what hears, I'd recommend beginning with Rosemary Lane.

I spent over twelve hours at Rhythm & Ribs on Saturday. Here's my synopsis.

I reviewed Laurie Anderson's performance at Helzberg Hall.


Charles Tolliver is still alive? Why is his genius being so roundly ignored?

Unless you intend to spend $25 on the entire Fire In My Bones compilation of raw gospel, I discourage you from grabbing the three free MP3s at the link. You'll immediately discover that you need the entire set.

Skateboarder Sean Malto is featured in Dutch Newman's lastest video. (Tip via Tony's Kansas City.)

All I want for Christmas is a Fania box set.

Ha ha!

Oh, Mac Lethal! What are we going to do with you?

Watch thirty wonderful minutes of Rev. John Wilkins here.

Pop pianist Roger Williams has died.

Kansas City Click: My official picks for the week are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, October 07, 2011

Review: Opeth at the Beaumont Club

Words a headbanger never hopes to hear: "Here's some Swedish folk music for you."

Mikael Åkerfeldt, the mastermind behind Opeth, intentionally baited an audience of almost 1,000 Thursday at the Beaumont Club.

Most members of the audience were in the mood for this. They heard something a lot like this instead. Åkerfeldt has abandoned death metal. The Opeth of 2011 sounds more like Tony Williams' Lifetime and King Crimson than Iron Maiden and Pantera. The new album Heritage is a refreshing blast of prog-rock and jazz fusion.

I love Opeth's new sound, but the band was subjected to jeers and heckling throughout its set. (The vibe was akin to the atmosphere captured on this fan footage from a show last month in Ohio. And to be fair, I'd be angry too if I'd unknowingly paid $30 for a bait-and-switch.) Frustrated denizens of the mosh pit resorted to slamming into one another during acoustic jams. Åkerfeldt seemed to feed off the negativity. A bit of a condescending fop, Åkerfeldt gave as good as he got.

It was possibly the weirdest show I've seen this year.

My friends at KDHX asked me to link to their Live at KDHX, Volume 9 premium for the stations' current fund drive. The compilation features There Stands the Glass favorites Ozomatli, Bettie Serveert and Ray Wylie Hubbard.

Teisha June Helgerson of Amelia has died. The band was featured at There Stands the Glass in 2008.

I wonder if Tom Petty thinks about Dwight Twilley these days. Twilley's new album came out this week.

Rdio is free-ish again. Here's my account if you care to follow me.

Kansas City Click: Sir Threadius Mongus perform Friday at La Esquina.

"Cry Cry Cry" is probably my favorite Bobby "Blue" Bland song. The legend is on the bill of Saturday's Rhythm & Ribs festival.

Laurie Anderson visits Helzberg Hall on Sunday.

Jazzbo appears every Monday at Jazz in midtown.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Review: Sir Michael Rocks- Premier Politics

Sir Michael Rocks- "Cell Dope" (video at YouTube)

When I heard an abominable track on terrestrial radio over the weekend I immediately assumed it was a demo by a local artist. Wrong! The hideous song turned out to be the new J. Cole hit. When quality control at the highest level is so suspect, it's completely understandable that Sir Michael Rocks of The Cool Kids feels compelled to release a free mix tape that flirts with the hip hop mainstream. Raves from nerds like me only gets an acclaimed underground hip hop act like The Cool Kids so far. If J. Cole can be star, then who am I to complain when Sir Michael Rocks sells out?

Go ahead and call me a Wynton Marsalis apologist. Here's my review of Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra's concert Saturday at Helzberg Hall.

I'm on a George Russell jag.

I muse about the challenges inherent in watching other people listen to music.

I wish most media outlets understood that there's a big difference between Hank Williams and Bocephus.

Tony Ladesich made a nice video for punk-metal band Faster Than Hell.

I dig the EPK for Christian McBride's new big band album.

Kansas City Click: New Jazz Order perform at 1911 Main on Tuesday.

The Record Bar hosts Wild Flag on Wednesday.

I'm obsessed with Opeth's new album. The death metal/European folk band appears at the Beaumont Club on Thursday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Review: Dum Dum Girls- Only In Dreams

Dum Dum Girls- "Bedroom Eyes" (video at YouTube)

Two albums were in near-constant rotation among my circle of friends in 1981. The Pretenders' 1980 debut and Beauty and the Beat by The Go-Go's never seemed to stop playing. The former project was the default soundtrack for hanging out with guys. The second album was adored by my female friends. Most of my associates weren't music nerds like me; they just wanted mood-setting background music.

We also listened to Controversy, Tattoo You, Being With You, Abacab, Ghost In the Machine and Nine Tonight. I recall needing to play No Sleep 'til Hammersmith, Stands for Decibels,, East Side Story, Wild Gift and Short Back 'n' Sides when no one else was around.

These thirty-year-old recollections overcame me as I first listened to Only In Dreams, the new album by Dum Dum Girls. Songs like "Bedroom Eyes" serve as an excellent tribute to Chrissie Hynde and to the girl group sound revived by The Go-Go's.

We were a reckless bunch, so it's not surprising that AIDS, car accidents and substance abuse have felled several of my friends from that era. I miss them, but getting teary-eyed isn't going to get me anywhere. Besides, I should be focusing on The Dum Dum Girls' tour schedule.

I think I'm "Coming Down".

Pat Metheny and Larry Grenadier were excellent last night. Here's my review of their concert.

I'd forgotten that hip hop executive Sylvia Robinson was also Sylvia of Mickey & Sylvia fame. Robinson died Thursday. Life, like love, is strange.

What's with the sudden outbreak of piano duets? I'm not sold on Orvieto, the new album by Chick Corea and Stefano Bollani.

Kansas City Click: Trumpet #1: Ambrose Akinmusire appears Friday at Yardley Hall.

Trumpet #2: Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra visit Helzberg Hall on Saturday.

Trumpet #3: The Kerry Strayer Orchestra features a full trumpet section. Its monthly gig returns to Jardine's on Sunday.

Trumpet #4: Maurice Brown performs Monday at the Blue Room.

(Original image of lonely singer-songwriter by There Stands the Glass.)