Thursday, December 29, 2016

I'm Trying To Keep My Faith: The Top Albums, Songs and Concerts of 2016

I made only one music-oriented trip in 2016.  I traveled to Atlanta to attend an ill-fated Kanye West concert.  Yet as these lists indicate, my ears weren't jilted at my home in Kansas City.

The Top 50 Albums of 2016

1. Kanye West- The Life of Pablo
2. Chance the Rapper- Coloring Book
3. Hélène Grimaud- Water
4. Logan Richardson- Shift
5. Rich the Factor- Smile
6. Rihanna- Anti
7. Jóhann Jóhannsson- Orphée
8. David Bowie- Blackstar
9. David Murray, Geri Allen and Terri Lyne Carrington- Perfection
10. Miranda Lambert- The Weight of These Wings

11. Maxwell- BlackSUMMERS’night
12. Nels Cline- Lovers
13. Danny Brown- Atrocity Exhibition
14. Childish Gambino- Awaken, My Love!
15. Pat Metheny Unity Group- The Unity Sessions
16. Kevin Gates- Islah
17. Amina Claudine Myers- Sama Rou
18. Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle- Kings & Queens
19. Savages- Adore Life
20. Joyce DiDonato- In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music

21. Adrian Younge- Something About April II
22. Kendrick Lamar- Untitled Unmastered
23. Leonard Cohen- You Want It Darker
24. Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom- Otis Was a Polar Bear
25. The Conquerors- Wyld Time
26. Walker Family Singers- Panola County Spirit
27. Kvelertak-Nattesferd
28. Rokia Traoré- Ne So
29. Anderson Paak- Malibu
30. Céu- Tropix

31. A Tribe Called Quest- We Got It From Here...
32. Willie Nelson- For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price
33. Exmortus- Drive Forth
34. BJ the Chicago Kid- In My Mind
35. Corinne Bailey Rae- The Heart Speaks In Whispers
36. Shirley Collins- Lodestar
37. Sumac- What One Becomes
38. Elliot Galvin Trio- Punch
39. Run the Jewels- 3
40. The Weeknd- Starboy

41. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds- Skeleton Tree
42. Kandace Springs- Soul Eyes
43. Ingrid Laubrock- Serpentines
44. A$AP Ferg- Always Strive and Prosper
45. Young Thug- Jeffery
46. Volbeat- Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie
47. Drake- Views
48. Willie Nelson- Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin
49. YG- Still Brazy
50. The Grisly Hand- Hearts & Stars

The Top Five Reissues and Archival Releases of 2016
1. Charlie Parker- Unheard Bird: The Unissued Takes
2. Urgent Jumping: East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics 1972-1982
3. Soul Fever: Afro Funk, Disco And Boogie: West African Disco Mayhem!
4. Miles Davis- Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5
5. Gov’t Mule- The Tel-Star Sessions

The Top Five EPs of 2016
1. T.I.- Us Or Else
2. Sarah Borges- Good and Dirty
3. Spoek Mathambo- Badimo
4. Chris Bathgate- Old Factory
5. Vince Staples- Prima Donna

The Top 50 Songs of 2016
1. Kanye West- “Ultralight Beam”
2. Anderson Paak- “Come Down”
3. Andre Williams- “Bury Me Deep”
4. Chance the Rapper- “Same Drugs”
5. Joe- “Our Anthem”
6. Danny Brown- “Really Doe”
7. Tedeschi Trucks Band- “Anyhow”
8. Miike Snow- “I Feel the Weight”
9. BJ the Chicago Kid- “Church”
10. Krizz Kaliko- “Didn’t Wanna Wake You”

11. Anthony Hamilton- “Ain’t No Shame”
12. T.I.- “40 Acres”
13. A Tribe Called Quest- “Kids...”
14. Rihanna- “Love On the Brain”
15. Sarah Borges- “Tendency to Riot”
16. Childish Gambino- “Redbone”
17. Frank Ocean- “Pink & White”
18. Parker Millsap- “Heaven Sent”
19. The Pretty Reckless- “Oh My God”
20. Kvelertak- “1985”

21. Boosie Badazz- “Cancer”
22. 21 Savage- “No Heart”
23. Babymetal- “Karate”
24. Rich the Factor- “Got ‘Em For Cheap”
25. Schoolboy Q- “That Part (Black Hippy remix)”
26. 5 Seconds of Summer- “Girls Talk Boys”
27. Descendants- “No Fat Burger”
28. YG- “Why You Always Hatin’?”
29. Agoraphobic Nosebleed- “Not a Daughter”
30. Jamie Lidell- “I Live to Make You Smile”

31. Kevin Gates- “Thought I Heard (Bread Winner’s Anthem)”
32. Phantogram- “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore”
33. Regina Belle- “He’s Alright”
34. Miranda Lambert- “Ugly Lights”
35. 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne- “Bounce”
36. Margo Price- “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)”
37. Mayhem Lauren- “Badmon Ting”
38. Volbeat- “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown”
39. Various Blonde- “All Bases Covered”
40. Soul Revival- “If You Ask Me Again (I Do)”

41. Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal- “Parts of a Man”
42. Famous Dex- "I Get the Drip From My Walk"
43. Shirley Caesar and Anthony Hamilton- “It’s Alright, It’s Ok”
44. Maxwell- “Lake By the Ocean”
45. Solange- “Don’t Touch My Hair”
46. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis- “Bolo Tie”
47. Psychic Heat- “Anxiety Eater”
48. M.I.A.- “Visa”
49. Car Seat Headrest- “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales”
50. Allen Toussaint- "American Tune"

The Top 50 Shows of 2016
1. Maxwell and Mary J. Blige- Sprint Center
2. Chance the Rapper- Midland theater
3. Lee Fields and the Expressions- The Granada
4. Aida Cuevas with Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles- Yardley Hall
5. Bonnie Raitt- Midland theater
6. Florence + The Machine- Providence Medical Amphitheater
7. Marilyn Maye- Quality Hill Playhouse
8. Exmortus- Aftershock
9. Tortoise- The Granada
10. Stephonne Singleton- Tank Room

11. Adia Victoria- Riot Room
12. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band- Sprint Center
13. Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle- Tank Room
14. Twenty-One Pilots- Sprint Center
15. Goddamn Gallows- Riot Room patio
16. Dolly Parton- Sprint Center
17. Steven Wilson- Folly Theater
18. R. Kelly- Sprint Center
19. Be/Non- Scottish Rite Temple
20. The Who- Sprint Center

21. Lamb of God- Midland theater
22. Chic- Starlight Theatre (opening for Duran Duran)
23. Christian McBride Trio- Folly Theater
24. Tedeschi Trucks Band- Midland theater
25. Pablo Ziegler and the Quartet for New Tango- Polsky Theatre
26. Les Arts Florissant- Helzberg Hall
27. UFO- VooDoo
28. Logan Richardson- Blue Room
29. Lianne La Havas- Uptown Theater (opening for Leon Bridges)
30. Dwight Yoakam- Uptown Theater

31. Roy Ayers- Blue Room
32. Diana Reyes- Barney Allis Plaza
33. Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom- Blue Room
34. Elle King- Midland theater
35. Matt Villinger- Orion Room at the Green Lady Lounge
36. 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne- Sprint Center
37. Maarja Nuut- Westin Kansas City at Crown Center
38. Toni Braxton- Sprint Center
39. Midori with the Kansas City Symphony- Helzberg Hall
40. Matt Otto Septet- Blue Room

41. Fantasia- Starlight Theatre
42. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats-Providence Medical Center Amphitheater
43. Elvis Costello- Yardley Hall
44. Avant- Uptown Theater
45. Helado Negro- RecordBar
46. Julion Alvarez- Sprint Center
47. Josh Groban- Starlight Theatre
48. Ebony Tusks- Midland theater (opening for Zhu)
49. Kevin Gates-  Providence Medical Center Amphitheater (opening for Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa)
50. Candido- American Jazz Museum

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Album Review: Ingrid Laubrock- Serpentines

Free jazz is often deliberately off-putting.  I suspect that a lot of obtuse improvised music may be little more than self-indulgent pranks.  That’s not the case with Serpentines, a new recording overseen by Ingrid Laubrock.  The saxophonist’s adventurous cohorts include the monumental drummer Tyshawn Sorey and celebrated pianist Craig Taborn, but it’s the electronics of Sam Pluta that differentiate Serpentines from less credible noisemakers.  ”Chip in Brain” is my jam.

I reviewed a spectacular concert by Maxwell and Mary J. Blige.

I wrote an extended concert preview about Third Eye Blind for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

I named Eddie Moore the Plastic Sax Person of the Year.

I was a guest on a two-hour edition of the Eight One Sixty radio program on 90.9 The Bridge.

I reviewed a concert by Milky Chance, Marian Hill, Banks & Steelz and Shaed.

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

Joe Ligon of the Mighty Clouds of Joy has died.

Even as an impressionable kid attending one of his first big indoor concerts, I was nonplussed by the garish drum and keyboard workouts during Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s 1977 appearance at Municipal Auditorium.  Greg Lake’s efforts have always been considerably more appealing to me.  Lake died earlier this month.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Kanye and Stanley

I fell in love with Atlanta last week.  I was smitten by the city’s Southern hospitality, collard greens, excellent public transportation and vibrant downtown.  Even so, I was unable to get past the highly publicized cancellation of Kanye West’s tour.  I had wheeled the trip around the troubled star’s concert at Philips Arena.  I settled for a Stanley Clarke show.  While the jazz-fusion legend looked and sounded amazing, I never got into his performance.   Not even keyboard whiz Beka Gochiashvili’s lovely playing on “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” allayed my disappointment.

I reviewed The Owen/Cox Dance Group and the People’s Liberation Big Band’s interpretation of The Nutcracker.

I wrote an extended preview of tonight’s Mary J. Blige and Maxwell concert for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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

The new compilation Doing It In Lagos: Boogie, Pop & Disco in 1980s Nigeria is an amusing diversion.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, December 05, 2016

I Can't Be Satisfied

Unless your name is Pat Metheny, I probably don’t want to hear you play a three-minute guitar solo. 

The ingratiating Marcus King, 20, did a credible impression of the late guitar hero Duane Allman at his band’s in-store performance at Vinyl Renaissance on Sunday.  I was far more impressed that he sang almost as well as Gregg Allman. 

But so what?  Blues prodigies are a dime a dozen.  Few things interest me less than a flashy blues-rock guitar virtuoso.

That’s partly why the Rolling Stones’ new rough-and-tumble album Blue & Lonesome is so impressive.  Only one song is longer than five minutes and nine selections clock in at less than four minutes. The absence of tiresome guitar solos on the informal tribute to Chess Records puts the vast majority of younger blues-rock artists to shame.

I reviewed the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s concert at the Midland theater for The Kansas City Star.

I wrote an extended concert preview about Mac Miller for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

I discussed the Snow Globes on KCUR last week.

I wrote an extended preview for a benefit concert featuring the Fray and David Cook for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

I ranked my favorite jazz performances of 2016 at Plastic Sax.

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

Childish Gambino’s outstanding Awaken, My Love! is RIYL: Funkadelic, wanting to get funked up, Sly & the Family Stone.  Here’s ”Redbone”.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)