Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Listening Booth: Fave music a bit past the half way point, published reviews April through July 3rd, Geri Allen RIP & more

This post should have been posted a month ago, but events has prevented me from finishing it. Since July is a quiet month for me in terms of writing, I don't feel too bad posting it at the end of the summer break.

The few months prior to the summer break were difficult ones. Not only did my dad die in May, just before that and in the weeks following, so did Chris Cornell, Geri Allen, Prodigy, and then Khelan Phil Cohran, all of them musicians who have made an impact on me at least to some extent over the years. Following their respective deaths, I've found solace, power and courage in the music they made, in particular in the case of Cornell and Allen. And as for my dad, some of the music he loved. But life goes on, and additionally, there has been so much great new music released so far this year (and much more just over the horizon) to keep me occupied and to lift my spirits.

None more so than William Parker's terrific, riveting and uplifting Meditation / Resurrection double album, which showcases two of his quartets -- the actual William Parker Quartet as well as In Order to Survive. It's a truly wonderful release. Parker has hit similar heights on record previously, but part of what makes this one so interesting is how the two albums both contrast and mirror each of the two groups, both among the best jazz ensembles of the past few decades, and in doing so revealing the breadth of Parker's work in the quartet format as well as how his singular voice as a musician and composer permeates the music of both, with the unparalleled rhythmic power duo of Parker and Hamid Drake at their respective cores. As I wrote in the conclusion of my review for Musikkmagasinet, whether the music swings hard or moves in more abstract, exploratory patterns, absorbing melodies and impelling grooves never too far away, and few if anyone today makes avant-jazz this warm, energetic, soulful, fiery and engaging quite like Parker and his trusted cohorts.

A couple of words, too, for Geri Allen. I was a tad late to Allen's music, admittedly, not really digging into her discography until I re-listened to and was subsequently captivated by her trio recording Printmakers (Minor Music), featuring Andrew Cyrille on drums and Anthony Cox on double bass, for the 1984 project I started almost 10 years ago. Geri Allen was a terrific pianist and a talented composer whose artistic practice followed its own path. Much has been made of Allen's ability to operate on either side of the trad./mainstream and the avant-garde so-called divide, but to me she rendered such a division pointless, and thus paved the way for how great musicians such as the bassist Eric Revis (who also has a new, really good album out) seem to think and work today. It was as if she ripped away the wires of a dividing fence and danced between the posts with grace and vivacity.

Printmakers remains a fave, but there are many other great recordings with Allen, both as a sidewoman and as a leader and co-leader. From her work with Oliver Lake, Steve Coleman, and Wallace Roney, to the trio recordings with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian and later Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, up to the very recent group she had with David Murray and Terri Lyne Carrington, and many others, including an album with Ornette Coleman. She'll be sorely missed.

Published reviews, April through July 3rd.
  • Trio 3: Visiting Texture (Intakt Records) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, April 10., 2017. Original grade 5 out of 6. A
  • Thelonious Monk: Liaisons Dangereuses (1960) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, May 8., 2017. [Link to online version] Not graded (part of an article). A
  • Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die (International Anthem) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, May 29., 2017. [Original grade 5 out of 6. A-
  • Akmee: Neptun (Nakama Records) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen,June 19., 2017. Original grade 5 out of 6. A-
  • William Parker Quartets: Meditation / Resurrection (AUM Fidelity) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, July 3., 2017. Original grade 6 out of 6. A+
  • Linda May Han Oh: Walk Against Wind (Biophilia Records) Reviewed for Jazznytt #243, Summer 2017. Not graded. B+
  • The Angelica Sanchez Trio: Float the Edge (Clean Feed) Reviewed for Jazznytt #243, Summer 2017. Not graded. A-
Additional published writing: "Opp med Shipp-farten", on Matthew Shipp, Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, April 3., 2017 and Chris Cornell obit, Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, May 22., 2017.

Fave new releases, January through the first week of July 2017:

For the ages:
  • William Parker Quartets: Meditation / Resurrection (AUM Fidelity)
  • Angles 9: Disappeared Behind the Sun (Clean Feed)
  • Harriet Tubman feat. Wadada Leo Smith: Araminta (Sunnyside Records)

Heavy rotation:
  • IDLES: Brutalism (Balley Records)
  • Jens Lekman: Life Will See You Now (Secretly Canadian)
  • Trio 3 (Andrew Cyrille, Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman): Visiting Texture (Intakt Records)
  • Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die (International Anthem)
  • Arto Lindsey:  Cuidado Madame (Northern Spy Records)
  • Khalid: American Teen (Right Hand Music)
  • Akmee: Neptun (Nakama Records)
  • Alexander Hawkins: Unit[e] (self-released)
  • Lisa Mezzacappa: avantNOIR (Clean Feed)
  • Matthew Shipp Trio: Piano Song (Thirsty Ear)
  • Craig Taborn: Daylight Ghosts (ECM) 
  • David S. Ware Trio: Live in New York 2010 (AUM Fidelity) 
  • Emperor X: Oversleepers International (Tiny Engines)

Thoroughly enjoyed:
  • Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo: Peace (Libra Records)
  • CP Unit: Before the Heat Deadth (Clean Feed)
  • Eivind Opsvik Overseas: Overseas V (Loyal Label)
  • Atomic: Six Easy Pieces (Odin)
  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band: So It Is (Legacy Recordings)
  • Lithics: Borrowed Floors (Water Wing Records, 2016)
  • Orchestra Baobab: Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng (World Circut Records) 
  • Wire: Silver/Lead (pinkflag)
  • The Mountain Goats: Goths (Merge Records)
  • Goncalo Almeida-Rodrigo Amado-Marco Franco: The Attic (NoBusiness) 
  • Priests: Nothing Feels Natural (Dischord Records)
  • Steve Coleman: Morphogenesis (Pi Recordings) 
  • Saint Etienne: Sound of Water Heavenly Recordings)
  • Miguel Zenón: Típico (Miel Music) 
  • Nicole Mitchell: Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds (FPE Records)
  • Angelica Sanchez Trio: Float the Edge (Clean Feed) 
  • JD Allen: Radio Flyer (Savant Records) 
  • Oumou Sangare: Mogoya (No Format)
  • Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: The Nashville Sound (Southeastern)
  • Spoon: Hot Thoughts (Matador)
  • Harris Eisenstadt Canada Day Quartet: On Parade in Parede (Clean Feed)
  • Brandon Seabrook: Die Trommel Fatale (New Atlantis)
  • Bardo Pond: Under the Pines (Fire Records)
  • Sunny Sweeney: Trophy (Aunt Daddy Records)
  • Tresspass Trio: The Spirit of Pitesti (Clean Feed)
  • The Microscopic Septet: Been Up So Long it Looks Like Down to Me: The Micros Play the Blues (Cuneiform Records) 
  • Diet Cig: Swear I'm Good at This (Frenchkiss Records)
  • Syd: Fin (Columbia)
  • Amor Amok: We Know Not What We Do (Intakt Records) 
  • Led Bib: Umbrella Weather (RareNoise Records)
  • Nnamdi Ogbonnaya: DROOL (Father/Daughter Records) 
  • Brandon Seabrook: Die Trommel Fatale (New Atlantis Records) 
  • The Necks: Unfold (Ideologic Organ) 
  • Low Cut Connie: Dirty Pictures (Part 1) (Contender) 
  • Omar Souleyman: To Syria, With Love (Mad Decent)
  • Ross Hammond: Follow Your Heart (Prescott Recordings)
  • Jeremy Pelt: Make Noise (High Note)
  • Julia Ulehla & Aram Bajakian/Dálava: The Book of Transfigurations (Songlines Recordings) 
  • Noah Perminger: Meditations on Freedom (self released)
  • Benjamin Brooker: Witness (Rough Trade)
  • Cloud Nothings: Life Without Sound (Carpark Records)

Reissues and vault music:
  • Dave Holland: Conference of the Birds (ECM)
  • Thelonious Monk: Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1960) (Sam Records) 
  • Prince: Purple Rain (Deluxe, Expanded Edition) (NPG Records/Warner)
  • Soundgarden: Ultramega OK (Sub Pop)

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