Thursday, July 02, 2020

Published reviews, April through June, and fave music of 2020 so far

When music moves us, it can do so in many different ways. Music can inspire and incite, spark joy, trigger memories, it can console, it can consolidate. Music can be an awakening, it can shake us out of our numbness. It can be a much needed reminder of the many things that are not right in the world, but music can also help us imagine it as a much better place.

These and many others reasons are why people turn to music even when the world is in various stages of turmoil and unrest. It is why music -- and art, literature, film -- remains important for many of us while we also recognize there are larger concerns. Because music is mental and emotional sustenance

I've tried to convey those sentiments, implicitly or explicitly, in my reviews. Although arguably not always successfully so. Speaking of which, below is a list of music I've covered in writing from April through June (Jan. through March can be found here), followed by a list, of sorts, of 50 of my favorite recordings released so far this year. That list could've been longer, but I had to stop somewhere.

PS: Depending on future developments, this may be the last entry on this blog for the foreseeable future. Granted, it hasn't seen a lot of activity at all over the past decade, my focus having been on paid published work. Still, I have debated moving my online presence to a different, more professional platform/site altogether for a while, but seeing as writing in any form has become increasingly emotionally taxing for me over the past few years -- took me three days to finalize and publish this post, and the stakes aren't particularly high, to put it mildly -- I've shelved that plan for the time being. Who knows what the future holds.
  • Fire! Orchestra: Actions (Rune Grammofon) + Krzysztof Penderecki Musikkmagasinet/Klassekapmen, April 6., 2020.
  • Superposition: Superposition (We Jazz Records) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen April 20., 2020
  • Cameron / Carter / Håker Flaten: Tau Ceti (Astral Spirits) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen April 27., 2020.
  • Master Oogway: Earth and Other Worlds
    (Rune Grammofon)
    Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen April 27., 2020
  • Mats Eilertsen Trio + Trio Mediæval: Memorabilia (NXN Recordings) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen May 11., 2020.
  • Anna Högberg Attack: Lena (Omlott) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen May 18., 2020.
  • John Pål Inderberg Trio: Radio Inderberg (AMP Music & Records) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen May 25., 2020
  • Hegge: Feeling (Particular Recordings) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen May 25., 2020.
  • Ambrose Akinmusire: On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment (Blue Note Records/Universal) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen June 8., 2020.
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio (Whirlwind Records) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekmapen, June 22., 2020.
  • Matthew Shipp: The Piano Equation (Tao Forms) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, June 29., 2020.
  • Daniel Carter, Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Gerald Cleaver: Welcome Adventure! Vol. 1 (577 Records) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen June 29., 2020.
  • Albert Ayler: New Grass [vinyl reissue] (Third Man Records) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, June 29., 2020.
Additional wiritng:
  •  "Uten sikkerhetsnett: Risikoen ved et liv i jazzen" Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen May 11., 2020.
  • "Fritt etter folkemusikk" Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen June 29., 2020.
 50 notable music releases of 2020 so far:

Voyager Golden Record candidates:
  • Gard Nilssen Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully the Music Is Yours (ODIN)
  • Aly Keita, Jan Galega Brönnimann, Lucas Niggli: Kalan Teban (Intakt)
  • Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You? (International Anthem)
  • Matthew Shipp: The Paino Equation (Tao Forms) 
  • Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud (Merge)
Heavy rotation
  • Run the Jewels: RJ4 (Jewel Runners)
  • Andreas Røysum Ensemble: Andreas Røysum Ensemble (Motvind Records)
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio (Whirlwind Records)
  • Okkyoung Lee: Yeo-Neun (Shelter Press)
  • Ambrose Akinmusire: On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment (Blue Note Records/Universal) 
  • Shopping: All or Nothing (Fatcat Records) 
  • Anna Högberg Attack: Lena (Omlott)
  • Aksak Maboul: Figures (Crammed Disc) 
  • Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters (Epic)
  • Torbjörn Zetterberg & Den Stora Frågan: Are You Happy? (Moserobie Recordings)
  • Brandon Seabrook with Cooper-Moore and Gerald Cleaver: Exultations (Astral Spirits) 
  • Bob Dylan: Rough and Rowdy Ways (Columbia)
  • Horse Lords: The Common Task (Northen Spy)
  • No Age: Goons Be Gone (Drag City)
  • Wendy Eisienberg: Dehiscence (Wendy Eisienberg)
Thoroughly enjoying  
  • Hegge: Feeling (Particular Recordings) 
  • Lisa Mezzacappa Six: Cosmicomics (Queen Bee Records)
  • Sigurd Hole: Lys/Mørke (Elvesang)
  • Shabaka and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History (Impulse!)
  • Wako: Wako (Øra Fonogram)
  • Erlend Apneseth: Fragmentarium (Hubro) 
  • Daniel Carter, Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Gerald Cleaver: Welcome Adventure! Vol. 1 (577 Records)
  • Jim Black Trio: Reckon (Intakt)
  • X: ALPHABETLAND (Fat Possum)
  • John Pål Inderberg Trio: Radio Inderberg (AMP Music & Records)
  • Moses Sumney: Græ (Jagjaguwar)
  • Cameron / Carter / Håker Flaten: Tau Ceti (Astral Spirits)
  • Daniel Romano's Outfit: Daniel Romano's Outfit Do (What Could Have Been) "Infidels" by Bob Dyaln & The Plugz (self-released)
  • Dave Sewelson: More Music For a Free World (self released)
  • Lina Allemano's Ohrenschmaus: Rats and Mice (Lumo Records) 
  • Beauty Pill: Please Advice (Northern Spy)
  • Tim Berne's Snakeoil: The Fantastic Mrs. 10 (Intakt)
  • Hedvig Mollestad: Ekhidna (Rune Grammofon) 
  • Inland Empire: Inland Empire (Clean Feed)
  • Large Unit Fendika: EthioBraz (PNL)
  • McPhee/Rempis/Reid/Lopez/Nilssen-Love: Of Things Beyond Thule volume 1 (Aerophonic)
  • Heroes Are Gang Leaders: Artificial Happiness Button (Ropeadope)
  • James Brandon Lewis & Chad Taylor: Live in Willisau (Intakt)
  • Mark Lomax, II & The Urban Art Ensemble: 400 Year Suite (CFG Multimedia)
  • Roots Magic: Take Root Among the Stars (Clean Feed)
  • James Carney Sextet: Pure Heart (Sunnyside Records)
  • Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Sideways to Italy (Sub Pop)
  • Lopez Trio: Triptych (self-released)
  • Claire Rousay: A Heavenly Touch (Already Dead)
  • Field Music: Making a New World (Memphis Industries)

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Published reviews and notable albums, 1st quarter, 2020


These are strange and worrying times, and even though we cannot go out and experience live music for the time being (that said, I quite enjoyed a fair share of sreamed "quarantine gig"), there is still a lot of great recorded music around. Below is a round-up of the music I've covered from January through March, as well as a list of 15 album favorites of the year so far. Stay safe, all, and wash your hands!


  • Large Unit Fendika: Ethiobraz (PNL Records) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Jan. 13., 2020
  • Keïta – Brönnimann – Niggli: Kalan Teban (Intakt Records) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Jan. 20., 2020
  • JUNO: Young Star (Jazzland Recordings) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Jan. 27., 2020
  • Jeff Parker: Suite For Max Brown (International Anthem) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Feb. 10., 2020
  • Gard Nilssen Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully the Music Is Yours (Odin Records/Grappa) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Feb. 10., 2020
  • Sigurd Hole: Lys / Mørke (Elvesang/Musikkoperatøren) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Feb 24., 2020
  • Lisa Mezzacappa Six: Cosmicomics Queen Bee Records) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekamepn, Feb. 24., 2020
  • Andreas Røysum Ensemble: Andreas Røysum Ensemble (Motvind Records) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klasssekampen, March 9., 2020
  • Shabaka and The Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History (Impulse! Record) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, March 16., 2020
  • Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You? (International Anthem) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, March 23., 2020 (Available online here. In Norwegian only)
  • Stein Urheim: Downhill Uplift (Hubro) Reviewed for Jazznytt #254



15 notable recordings of the year so far:

Heavy rotation
  • Gard Nilssen Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully the Music Is Yours (Odin Records/Grappa)  
  • Aly Keita, Jan Galega Brönnimann, Lucas Niggli: Kalan Teban (Intakt Records)
  • Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You? (International Anthem)
  • Superposition: Superposition (We Jazz Records)
  • Andreas Røysum Ensemble: Andreas Røysum Ensemble (Motvind Records)
Thoroughly enjoying  
  • Lisa Mezzacappa Six: Cosmicomics (Queen Bee Records)
  • Sigurd Hole: Lys/Mørke (Elvesang)
  • Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud (Merge)
  • Torbjörn Zetterberg & Den Stora Frågan: Are You Happy? (Moserobie Recordings)
  • Shabaka and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History (Impulse!)
  • Horse Lords: The Common Task (Northen Spy) 
  • Wako: Wako (Øra Fonogram)
  • Jim Black Trio: Reckon (Intakt)
  • Shopping: All or Nothing (Fatcat Records)
  • Stein Urheim: Downhill Uplift (Hubro)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The 2019 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll

Results for the 2019 edition of Francis Davis' Jazz Critics Poll, for the past two years hosted by NPR, were posted yesterday. In a year where I could see now clear consensus favorite in advance, it was still not that surprising too see Kris Davis' Diatom Ribbons take the no. 1 spot, considering it received a good deal of buzz late in the year. Happy to see James Brandon Lewis' An Unruly Manifesto make the top 20, especially considering he did most of the albums promotion himself, as well as the strong finish for Anna Webber's Clockwise. Steve Lehman is be now a long-time favorite who continues to impress in many formats, and even if The People I Love didn't resonate with me quite as much as  Dialect Flourescent or Selebeyone, it's still a terrific release by one of this generations leading and most original musicians, composers and improvisors. Disappointed, though, that neither Per 'Texas' Johansson/Torbjörn Zetterberg/Konrad Agnas nor Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity, who both released stellar albums, made the top 50, but at least I did my bit.

Speaking of things I did, I blurbed the winner of the Rara Avis category (re-issues, vault releases and similar), Musical Prophet, which covers Eric Dolphy's 1963 New York sessions. This, along with the results, plus Francis Davis' essay can be accessed via the link up top, while individual ballots (also available via the main article) are as always hosted by Tom Hull and can be accessed here. You should go check them all out, it's half the fun of such polls, but I'm posting mine below.

NEW RELEASES
  1. James Brandon Lewis, An UnRuly Manifesto (Relative Pitch)
  2. Per "Texas" Johansson-Torbjörn Zetterberg-Konrad Agnas, Orakel (Moserobie)
  3. Anna Webber, Clockwise (Pi)
  4. Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity, To Whom Who Buys a Record (Odin)
  5. Emmeluth's Amoeba, Chimaera (Ora Fonogram)
  6. Avram Fefer Quartet, Testament (Clean Feed)
  7. Aki Takase Japanic, Thema Prima (BMC)
  8. Federico Ughi, Transoceanico (577)
  9. Steve Lehman Trio & Craig Taborn, The People I Love (Pi)
  10. Taylor Ho Bynum 9-tette, The Ambiguity Manifesto (Firehouse 12)
REISSUES/HISTORICAL
  1. Eric Dolphy, Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions (Resonance -3CD -18)
  2. Detail, Day Two (1982, NoBusiness)
  3. Griot Galaxy, Kins (1981, Third Man)
VOCAL
  • Art Ensemble of Chicago, We Are on the Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration (Pi -2CD)
DEBUT
  • Nick Dunston, Atlantic Extraction (Out of Your Head)
LATIN
  • Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet, The Rhythm of Invention (Patois)

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

El Intruso 12th Annual International Critics Poll

The results for the Argentine "dedicated to other music" magazine El Intruso's 12th Annual International Critics Poll were posted this Monday. Link to the results and personal ballots here. I'll point you to the "musician of the year" category in particular, and happily note that 5 of the top 6 are female artists.



Posting my ballot below, although you can also find it via the results page linked to above.

Musician of the year: Gard Nilssen, Jaimie Branch, Eric Revis
Newcomer Musician: Georgia Wartel Collins, Nick Dunston, Claire Rousay
Group of the year: Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity, Emmeluth’s Amoeba, jaimie branch’s Fly or Die II
Newcomer group: Nature Work, Aki Takase Japanic, Aila Trio
Album of the year: James Brandon Lewis – An UnRuly Manifesto (Relative Pitch Records), Per “Texas” Johansson / Torbjörn Zetterberg / Konrad Agnas – Orakel (Moserobie Music Production), Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity – To Whom Who Buys a Record (ODIN)
Composer: James Brandon Lewis, Anna Webber, Taylor Ho Bynum
Drums: Gard Nilssen, Damion Reid, Christian Lillinger
Acoustic bass: Eric Revis, Luke Stewart, Petter Eldh
Electric bass: Luke Stewart, Brian Gibson, Ellen Brekken
Guitar: Anthony Pirog, Hedvig Mollestad, Mary Halvorson
Piano: Matt Mitchell, Craig Taborn, Kris Davis
Keyboards/Synthesizer/Organ: Craig Taborn, Jamie Saft, Anja Lauvdal
Tenor Saxophone: James Brandon Lewis, Andre Roligheten, Per “Texas” Johansson
Alto Saxophone: Signe Emmeluth, Steve Lehman, Mette Rasmussen
Baritone Saxophone: Eirik Hegdal, Julian Argüelles, Mats Gustafsson
Soprano Saxophone: Sam Newsome, Roscoe Mitchell, André Kassen
Trumpet / Cornet: Magnus Broo, Jaimie Branch, Steph Richards
Clarinet / Bass Clarinet: Ken Vandermark, Jason Stein, Patrick Holmes
Trombone: Mats Äleklint, Steve Swell, Jeb Bishop
Flute: Nicole Mitchell, Henry Threadgill, Anna Webber
Violin / Viola: Matt Manieri, Ola Kvernberg, Jean Cook
Cello: Tomeka Reid, Christopher Hoffman, Fredrick Lonberg-Holm
Vibrafone: Mattias Ståhl, Christopher Dell, Matt Moran
Electronics: Ikue Mori, Noel Meek, Tommi Keränen
Other Instruments: Theon Cross (tuba), Bill Lowe (tuba), Hild Sofie Tafjord (French horn)
Female Vocals: Sofia Jernberg, Moor Mother (Camae Ayewa), Fay Victor
Best Live Band: Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity, Moskus, Henry Threadgill Zooid
Record Label: Hubro, Records Astral Spirits, Pi Recordings

Friday, December 20, 2019

Fave music (i.e. mostly jazz/"jazz") of 2019

I've often been wary of posting year-end favorites until sometime into the new year, mainly since from experience something interesting invariably pops up at later dates that demands my consideration. Be that a late release that hits the sweet spot, or something that has flown under ones radar, the latter being an example of why -- in spite of the many groans they inspire -- I still find year-end lists useful: something might pique your interests when it's placed among other stuff you admire picked by a person whose taste you trust.

Whether I am to be trusted or not I'll leave up to you to decide. In any case, as years have gone by I've become less stressed out that such list should somehow be final. They are, for me, a report of how things stand at the time it is posted. And on that note, if you arrive at this list after the personal ballots for the NPR Jazz Critics Poll, in which I voted, have been published, and something doesn't quite square with my ballot, that's because this list has been posted at a later date and for whatever reason, something felt slightly different this time around. That said, even if album X placed slightly higher than Y on one compared to the other, chances are I still like them both a hell of a lot.

With that out of the way, here's a list of my favorite jazz and jazz adjacent albums released over the past year or so, stopping at 40 because I have to stop somewhere. Plus, with an additional list consisting 10 fave "other" releases, that makes 50.

The best of the best:
  • James Brandon Lewis: An UnRuly Manifsto (Relative Pitch Records)
  • Per 'Texas' Johansson/Torbjörn Zetterberg/Konrad Agnas: Orakel (Moserobie Music Production) 
  • Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: To Whom Who Buys a Record (ODIN)
  • Anna Webber: Clockwise (Pi Recordings)
On heavy rotation:
  • Taylor Ho Bynum 9-tette: The Ambiguity Manifesto (Firehouse Records)
  • Avram Fefer Quartet: Testament (Clean Feed)
  • Emmeluth's Amoeba: Chimaera (Øra Fonogram)
  • Aki Takase Japanic: Thema Prima (Budapest Music Center Records) 
  • Steve Lehman Trio + Craig Taborn: The People I Love (Pi Recordings) 
  • Federico Ughi: Transoceanico (577 Records)
  • Matt Brewer w/Mark Shim and Damion Reid: Ganymede (Criss Cross Jazz)
  • Dave Rempis, Brandon Lopes & Ryan Packard: The Early Bird Gets (Aerophonic Records)
  • Gebhard Ullmann: mikroPULS (Intuition Records)
  • DKV & Joe McPhee: The Fire Each Time (6CD, Catalytic Sound)
  • jaimie branch: FLY or DIE II: bird dogs of paradise (Internaional Anthem)
  • Nature Work (Jason Stein/Greg Ward/Eric Revis/Jim Black): Nature Work (Sunnyside) 
 Thoroughly enjoyed:
  • Abdullah Ibrahim: The Balance (Gearbox Records)
  • Steph Richards: Take the Neon Lights (Birdwatcher Records)
  • Tomeka Reid Quartet: Old New (Cuneiform Records)
  • The Big Yes: The Big Yes (Nakama Records) 
  • Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom: Glitter Wolf (The Royal Potato Family)
  • Rich Halley Quartet: Terra Incognita (Pine Eagle Records)
  • Matt Mitchell: Phalanx Ambassadors (Pi Recordings)
  • Petter Eldh: Petter Eldh Presents Koma Saxo (We Jazz)
  • The Attic (Rodrigo Amado, Goncalo Almeida, Onno Govaert): Summer Bummer (NoBusiness
  • The Big Yes: The Big Yes (Nakama Records) 
  • Kris Davis: Diatom Ribbons (Pyroclastic Records)
  • Nick Dunston: Atlantic Extraction (Out Of Your Head Records)
  • Junius Paul: Ism (International Anthem
  • William Parker/In Order to Survive: Live/ShapeShifter (AUM Fidelity)
  • Fire! Orchestra: Arrival (Rune Grammofon)
  • Art Ensemble of Chicago: We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration (Pi Recordings)
  • Somersaults (Tobias Delius / Olie Brice / Mark Sanders): Numerology of Birdsong (West Hill Records)
  • Fredrik Ljungkvist Trio: Atlantis (Moserobie Music Productions)
  • Gebhard Ullmann Basement Research: Impromptus and Other Short Works (WhyPlayJazz)
  • Scheen Jazzorkester & Thomas Johansson: As We See It... (Clean Feed)
  • Aila Trio: Aila Trio (Hoo-Ha Recordings)
  • Nick Mazzarella Trio: Counterbalance (Astral Spirits)
  • Christian Meaas Svendsen + Nakama + Rinzai Zen Center Oslo: New Rituals (Nakama)
  • Burton Greene / Damon Smith / Ra Kalam Bob Moses: Life's Intense Mystery (Astral Spirits)
Vault/Re-issue:
  • Griot Galaxy: Kins (Third Man Records)
  • Clifford Jordan: Glass Bead Games (Purple Pleasure Records)
  • The Quintet: Events: 1998-1999(PNL) [Disclaimer: I wrote liner notes for this release]
  • Detail: Day Two (NoBusiness Records)
  • Sam Rivers: Emanation (NoBusiness Records)

Non-jazz releases:
  • Lightning Bolt: Sonic Citadel (Thrill Jockey)
  • Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains (Drag City)
  • Fontaines D.C.: Dogrel (Partisan) 
  • Little Simz: GREY Area (Age 101)
  • Ekiti Sound: Abeg No Vex (Crammed Disc)
  • Eddy Current Suppression Ring: All In Good Time (Castle Face)
  • Carly Rae Jepsen: Dedicated (Intercscope)
  • Broen: Do You See the Falling Leaves (Su Tissue)
  • black midi: Schlangenheim (Rough Trade)
  • Jamila Woods: Legacy! Legacy! (Jagjaguwar)
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