Monday, October 31, 2016

Concert Review: Gingger Shankar at Polsky Theatre

Gingger Shankar’s intriguing appearance at Polsky Theatre on Saturday was intended to illuminate the underappreciated artistry of her mother and grandmother, but the multimedia concert raised more questions than it answered.

A short documentary narrated by Shankar, her performance with multi-instrumentalist Vivek Maddala and drummer Carlo Ribaux and a question-and-answer session left me more confused than ever about the family trees and music of the Shankar and Subramaniam clans.   I sense that Shankar told the audience of about 200 only one side of a very complicated story.

Yeah, but what about the music?  The most interesting bits featured the prerecorded voice of Shankar's mother (the provenance of the source material was hazy) accompanied by the sort of crossover fusion once associated with L. Subramaniam (the man I thought was Shankar’s father until Saturday’s presentation clouded my understanding).

I reviewed Elle King’s return to the Midland theater.

I reviewed a concert by Purity Ring and Health.

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

I discussed Berwanger on KCUR last week.

I wrote an extended preview of Sturgill Simpson’s appearance at the Midland theater for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

Lecrae’s bravely existential “Can’t Stop Me Now” could kill his career as a Christian rapper.

Donny McCaslin’s Beyond Now is an essential companion to David Bowie’s Blackstar.   The least appealing moments of the daring album remind me Sting’s work with Branford Marsalis, but much of Beyond Now is precisely the sort of fusion I dream about.

Jah Wobble is a gem.

(Original images by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Bury Me Deep: Andre Williams’ Morbid Checklist

Old friends are dropping like flies.  And even my hair ached when I crawled out of bed yesterday.  Maybe it’s time to begin making funeral arrangements.  Andre Williams’s “Bury Me Deep” indicates that the process needn’t be joyless.  Here’s the beginning of his outlandish checklist: “when I die, I want six female pallbearers, and I want a Jewish hearse driver, and I want a black preacher preaching for me, and I want a pink hearse- gotta be pink…”  The outlandish song is from Williams’ forthcoming Don’t Ever Give Up album.

I reviewed concerts by Bonnie Raitt, Toni Braxton, Il Divo and Bob James for The Kansas City Star.

I reviewed the Conquerors’ Wyld Time album for KCUR.

My most recent weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine are published here and here.

I recently discussed Various Blonde and Kansas on KCUR.

Tonight’s Schoolboy Q concert is my Big Show of the week for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

I recently reviewed jazz concerts by Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle and the Hermon Mehari Quartet at Plastic Sax.

Helado Negro found ways to transcend the quandry faced by laptop pop artists at RecordBar last night.  Rather than merely singing into a microphone after pushing the play button on his MacBook, he and his computer were flanked by two costumed dancers and were supplemented by a nifty light system.  The experimental artist is also a convincing guitarist.

Phil Chess has died.

I’m all about Joyce DiDonato’s latest video.

Time/Life: Song for the Whales and Other Beings by Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra is a nice surprise.  The late bassist is heard on two of the five tracks.

Jamie Lidell’s Building a Beginning is RIYL Hall & Oates, old-fashioned love songs, Bobby Caldwell.  Here’s ”I Live To Make You Smile”.

The intentionally absurd album cover of D.R.A.M.’s Big Baby D.R.A.M. reflects its contents.  ”WiFi” features Erykah Badu.

Metal na Madeira, a collaboration between vocalist Paula Santoro and guitarist Ian Faquini, is RIYL Gal Costa, cool water on a hot day, João Gilberto.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hey Kids, Shake It Loose Together: My 200 Top Songs of the 1970s

The four-eyed shrimp with a broken arm sitting next to the principal in the faded class photo played Band On the Run every day in his bedroom in suburban Kansas City.  His dad blasted country hits when he got home from work.

I admire the revisionist The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s list published by Pitchfork two months ago, but the exercise doesn’t reflect my experience during the decade. 

I’ve compiled a list of 200 songs that I actually listened to and enjoyed during the 1970s (Spotify playlist).  I included songs released in the 1970s that I encountered at any point between 1969 and 1980.  For instance, I only learned of Toots and the Maytal’s 1970 song “Pressure Drop” when I bought the 1973 soundtrack of “Harder They Come” album in 1978.  And lest the list be dominated by Stevie Wonder and Elton John, I allowed myself only one song per artist.

The inclusion of selections like “My Ding-a-Ling” and “Seasons in the Sun” should make it clear that my list isn’t intended to confer importance or quality.  Instead, it’s a warts and all account that reflects the evolution of my musical education.

Johnny Cash- Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down
James Gang- Funk #49
Kris Kristofferson- The Law Is For the Protection of the People
Ray Price- For the Good Times
Charlie Pride- Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone
Jerry Reed- Amos Moses
Simon & Garfunkel- Bridge Over Troubled Water
Sly And The Family Stone - Family Affair
Cat Stevens- Wild World
Toots and the Maytals- Pressure Drop
Conway Twitty- Hello Darlin’

Badfinger- Day After Day
Isaac Hayes- Theme From “Shaft”
Jethro Tull- Aqualung
Harry Nilsson- Coconut
Dolly Parton- Coat of Many Colors
John Prine- Sam Stone
Three Dog Night- Never Been to Spain

Chuck Berry- My Ding-a-Ling
Jimmy Castor Bunch- Troglodyte (Cave Man)
Chicago- Saturday In the Park
Jim Croce- Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)
Sammy Davis Jr.- Candy Man
Dr. Hook- The Cover of Rolling Stone
Emerson, Lake & Palmer- Hoedown
Roberta Flack- The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
Genesis- Watcher of the Skies
Humble Pie- 30 Days in the Hole
Michael Jackson- Ben
George Jones- A Picture of Me (Without You)
Mott the Hoople - All the Young Dudes
Johnny Nash- I Can See Clearly Now
O’Jays- Back Stabbers
Billy Paul- Me and Mrs. Jones
Elvis Presley- Burning Love
The Raspberries- Go All the Way
Seals and Crofts- Summer Breeze
Temptations- Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone
Tanya Tucker- Delta Dawn

Alice Cooper- Elected
Bloodstone- Natural High
Cher- Half-Breed
David Essex- Rock On
Aretha Franklin- Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)
Marvin Gaye- Let’s Get It On
Al Green- Here I Am (Come and Take Me)
Herbie Hancock- Chameleon
Bobbi Humphrey- Harlem River Drive
Elton John- Bennie and the Jets
Paul McCartney and Wings- Band On the Run
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes- The Love I Lost
Joni Mitchell- Help Me
Willie Nelson- Whiskey River
Ozark Mountain Daredevils- If You Wanna Get to Heaven
Billy Preston- Will It Go Round in Circles
Charlie Rich- Behind Closed Doors
Johnny Russell- Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer
Son Seals- Sitting At My Window
Ringo Starr- I'm the Greatest
The Three Degrees- When Will I See You Again
Jerry Jeff Walker- Up Against the Wall
The Who- The Real Me
The Edgar Winter Group- Frankenstein
ZZ Top- Waitin' For the Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago

Average White Band- Pick Up the Pieces
Bachman Turner Overdrive- Not Fragile
Bobby Bare- Marie Laveau
William DeVaughn - Be Thankful for What You Got
Neil Diamond- Longfellow Serenade
Merle Haggard- If We Make It Through December
Hues Corporation- Rock the Boat
Terry Jacks- Seasons in the Sun
The Jackson 5- Dancing Machine
J. Geils Band- Musta Got Lost
LaBelle- Lady Marmalade
Latimore- Let’s Straighten It Out
Ramsey Lewis- Sun Goddess
Gordon Lightfoot- Sundown
Lynyrd Skynryd- Sweet Home Alabama
Barry Manilow- Mandy
George McCrae- Rock Your Baby
Ohio Players- Fire
Queen- Killer Queen
Rufus- Tell Me Something Good
Dionne Warwick and the Spinners- Then Came You
Barry White- Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe
Stevie Wonder- Heaven is 10 Zillion Light Years Away

Amazing Rhythm Aces- Third Rate Romance
Jeff Beck- Freeway Jam
The Blackbyrds- Walking in Rhythm
Glen Campbell- Rhinestone Cowboy
Natalie Cole- This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)
Jessi Colter- I’m Not Lisa
Bob Dylan- Idiot Wind
Earth, Wind & Star- Shining Star
Electric Light Orchestra- Can’t Get It Out of My Head
Freddy Fender- Wasted Days and Wasted Nights
Tom T. Hall- Faster Horses (The Cowboy and the Poet)
Peter Hammill- Nadir's Big Chance
Hot Chocolate- You Sexy Thing
Janis Ian- At Seventeen
Kansas- Carry on Wayward Son
Kraftwerk- Autobahn
Led Zeppelin- Houses of the Holy
Van McCoy- The Hustle
Ted Nugent- Stranglehold
Pure Prairie League- Amie
Rainbow- Man On the Silver Mountain
Minnie Riperton- Lovin’ You
Smokey Robinson- Baby That’s Backatcha
Diana Ross- Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)
Roxy Music- Love Is the Drug
Rush- Fly By Night
Gary Stewart- She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)
Sweet- Ballroom Blitz
The Sylvers- Boogie Fever
10cc- I’m Not In Love
Andrea True Connection- More More More
UFO- Shoot Shoot
U-Roy- Chalice In the Palace
War- Low Rider
Grover Washington Jr.- Mister Magic

Abba- Knowing Me, Knowing You
Aerosmith- Back In the Saddle
Roy Ayers- Everybody Loves the Sunshine
George Benson- Breezin’
Brick- Dazz
Stanley Clarke- School Days
David Allan Coe- Longhaired Redneck
George Harrison- Crackerbox Palace
Jean Michael Jarre- Oxygène Pt. 4
Dorothy Moore- Misty Blue
Ramones- Beat On the Brat
Rose Royce- I Wanna Get Next to You
The Runaways- Cherry Bomb
Sex Pistols- Anarchy in the U.K.
Red Sovine- Teddy Bear
Candi Staton- Young Hearts Run Free
Thin Lizzy- Jailbreak
Trammps- Disco Inferno
The Tubes- Don’t Touch Me There
The Whispers- One For the Money

Bootsy Collins- The Pinocchio Theory
Commodores- Brick House
Elvis Costello- Mystery Dance
Devo- Uncontrollable Urge
Joe Ely- Treat Me Like a Saturday Night
Emotions- Best of My Love
Isley Brothers- Footsteps in the Dark
Waylon Jennings- The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don't Want to Get Over You)
Randy Newman- Short People
Kenny Rogers- Lucille
Slave- Slide
Television- See No Evil
Peter Tosh- Stepping Razor
Muddy Waters- Mannish Boy
Weather Report- Birdland

The Cars- All Mixed Up
Cheech and Chong- Earache My Eye
The Clash- Stay Free
George Duke- Dukey Stick
Nick Gilder- Hot Child in the City
Emmylou Harris- Two More Bottles of Wine
Joe Jackson- Is She Really Going Out With Him?
The Jam- In the Crowd
Jeff Lorber Fusion- Curtains
Nick Lowe- Heart of the City
Parliament- Flash Light
Peaches & Herb- Reunited
Police- Roxanne
Lou Reed- Street Hassle
Rolling Stones- When the Whip Comes Down
Linda Ronstadt- Poor Poor Pitiful Me
Patti Smith- Because the Night
Bruce Springsteen- Prove It All Night
Van Halen- Runnin' With the Devil

AC/DC- Girls Got Rhythm
Moe Bandy and Janie Frickie- It’s a Cheating Situation
Cameo- Sparkle
Cheap Trick- I Want You to Want Me
Chic- Good Times
John Conlee- Backside of Thirty
Crusaders- Street Life
Ian Dury & the Blockheads- Sink My Boat
Dave Edmunds- Girls Talk
The Kinks- Low Budget
The Knack- My Sharona
Bob Marley & the Wailers- So Much Trouble in the World
Graham Parker- Passion Is No Ordinary Word
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers- Even the Losers
Pretenders- Precious
Sister Sledge- He's the Greatest Dancer
The Specials- You’re Wondering Now
Squeeze- Up the Junction
Sugarhill Gang - Rapper's Delight
Donna Summer- Bad Girls
Talking Heads- Memories Can’t Wait
Tubeway Army- Down In the Park
Anita Ward- Ring My Bell
Hank Williams, Jr.- Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound

Monday, October 10, 2016

Album Review: The Robert Glasper Experiment- ArtScience

I’m baffled by fans who buy t-shirts and other merchandise before a concert begins.  Won’t they regret purchasing the souvenirs if the performer disappoints them?  Friends who proclaim that a forthcoming event will be “the concert of the year” are no less silly.  So much for the Show Me state.

If symbolism mattered more than content, the Robert Glasper Experiment’s ArtScience, a project on which one of my favorite jazz musicians leads an excellent band in an exploration of R&B, would be my top album of 2016.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of actually listening to ArtScience.  I share the inclinations of Glasper and the members of his all-star band, but their update of classic Stevie Wonder, George Duke’s funk-fusion and current neo-soul by the likes of Erykah Badu falls well short of the mark.  A handful of impressive moments only make me long for what might have been.

I reviewed John Mayall’s concert at Knuckleheads.

I reviewed James Bay’s return to the Midland theater.

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

I discussed Brody Buster’s One Man Band on KCUR last week.

A forthcoming Sigur Rós concert is my Big Show of the Week for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

Rod Temperton has died.

Joan Marie Johnson Faust of the Dixie Cups has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

My new catchphrase: ”I got a new name in the streets. They call me Billy.”.

The Duo- Live!, a jam session featuring Mulgrew Miller and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, is an old-school treat.

The end is nigh.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Concert Review: Michael Angelo at RecordBar

I told the organizers of the Outer Reaches festival that I was extremely anxious about Michael Angelo Nigro’s momentous appearance at their event.  The obscure Kansas City musician who performs as Michael Angelo seems flighty in a 10-minute documentary released last year.

I had the gall to share my concern with Michael Angelo when I encountered him on the sidewalk outside RecordBar prior to his show on Saturday.  When I told him that I didn't know what to expect, he replied that “I don’t know, either.”

His uncertainty was understandable.  The booking was only the second time he’d performed the songs from his recently rediscovered 1976 and 1977 albums and the first time he would air the material in his hometown.  He told the audience of about 75 that “you guys are kind of in a historic moment here.”

Accompanied by guitarist Rusty Crewse and drummer Paul Allee, Michael Angelo played bass and sang during a 45-minute set that sounded untainted by the musical developments of the last 40 years.  The trio recalled the spiritual jangle-pop of Chris Bell’s “I Am the Cosmos” on a couple wondrous selections.  A rendition of “Sorcerer’s Delight” was appropriately freaky.  A novelty song Michel Angelo described as an homage to Tin Pan Alley broke up the heaviness of selections that evoked early Rush.

While it was a bumpy ride, I enjoyed the brief excursion to 1977.

An Amos Lee concert obliterated my modest expectations last week. Here’s my review.

I reviewed a concert by Leon Bridges and Lianne La Havas.

I discussed Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle on KCUR last week.

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

I address Kansas City’s “jazz dick music” controversy at Plastic Sax.

Neville Marriner has died.

Kashif Saleem has died.

Rockabilly cat Joe Clay has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

I know the Kansas City rapper Brotha Newz as a high school teacher.  Here’s his high-concept video.

I have yet to decide if Danny Brown’s Atrocity Exhibition is good or great.  There’s no debating ”Really Doe”- it’s an instant classic.

Prince lives!  Eric Benét channels the master on “Insane”.

A play-in-reverse-sequence function on audio playback devices would make chronologically precise compilations that cover expansive time frames such as Pat Thomas’ excellent Coming Home: Original Ghanaian Highlife & Afrobeat Classics, 1964-1981 more accessible.  (Tip via Big Steve.)

I had a quasi-religious experience while listening to a track from Mother of Light, a forthcoming album by Isabel Bayrakdarian.

The British jazz scene is on fire.  Neil Cowley Trio’s astounding Spacebound Apes is RIYL: Bad Plus, art-rock, Brad Mehldau Trio.  Here’s ”The City and the Stars”.

”Change Me” is my favorite song on Tamela Mann’s disappointing new One Way album.

T.I.’s Us Or Else EP is essential.  Here’s ”Warzone”.  RIYL: Woody Guthrie, thoughtful discourse, Run the Jewels.

A Seat at the Table, Solange's latest release, sounds like Dirty Projectors filtered through Cornel West.

While charming, John Prine’s new duets album For Better, Or Worse doesn’t hold a candle to In Spite of Ourselves.  Here’s ”Color of the Blues”.

I’m trying to wrap my head around Timothy Brownie’s The Ritual Experience at La Guardia Del Maestro, Mexico City.  Here’s a rapturous interpretation of Mark Ronson’s ”Daffodils”.

I roll my eyes every time I encounter the meaningless compliment “he/she did his/her thing.”  Yet I find myself wanting to employ the irritating cliché to Madeleine Peyroux’s Secular Hymns.  Her imaginative interpretation of an Allen Toussaint classic illustrates the point.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)