Music for 2/16/23!!!! Quasi, Brad Mehldau

@@@ Quasi: Queen of Ears (Sub Pop, 2023) A Northwest duo I got to via I can’t remember, I think last week’s All Music notable release email. Featuring the drummer from Sleater Kinney gives them cred and they come out grunge-y but far from pathetically dour in the first tune, Last Long Laugh. I’ve been blogging for a while that the powers that be or want to be seek a rock/rawk comeback and this record fits into that. Let’s see what track 2 has on offer, this could be a rock biscuit I can get with! There’s more than a bit of classic rock in the riffage here so it’s not a straight up bummer-y grunge thing, it’s got a wee bit of boogie. I did a bit of googling to see that these two have been playing for nigh on three decades so this is no flim flam operation, they know each other and what they can do together. Some of what sounds like guitar is distorted keyboard so that puts a twist on the feel of the record. The vibe of this rock is upbeat without being cheesy and the keyboard riffage and the keyboard arrangements work for me. If yer up for some rock that is not cookie cutter but not oddly slack or pretentious take a whack at this business.

@@@ Brad Mehldau: Your Mother Should Know (Nonesuch, 2023) I go into this listen a bit prejudiced against Mr. Mehldau. I find his playing a bit on the cloying side so when I open this up and see it’s all Beatles covers I am thinking this is aimed at people with high paying jobs who love the Beatles who don’t have particularly well developed senses of taste. That said I like some of the passages of the first track, I Am the Walrus, it’s interesting to hear the vocal melody played back on a piano. I will hang for the second track, the title track clipped below. I think it was quick out of the gate and now on the third tune I’m finding the cover of I Saw Her Standing There to be less than compelling.

Music for 1/13/23!!! Black Flower

@@@ Black Flower: Magma (SDBan Ultra, 2022) I’m a bit surprised to see this blend of electronic music and jazz on highbrow critic Ted Gioia’s honorable mention list for 2022. While this release tilts to normies, it’s got a lot going for it including a fresh blend of sounds, space organ and walking bassline in the first tune being high up on the list for me. I’m doing a bit of reading on this outfit’s bandcamp page and they are from Belgium and aspire to be rocking a blend of jazz, afrobeat and dub. I can get with that and let’s peep a bit more. It’s also got a bit of old school Doors type jam band swirled up in there. The second tune O Fogo brings on the afrobeat with some stanky drums colliding with the space organ and a circular flute part. Not the most amazing shit ever but solid and I am feeling the rhythm section here bigly. Nice tight snare sound and a popping bass player, this dude or lady or them/they is smackin’ it around. Shit starts to fall apart in a more interesting way in the third track as they come with the messy intro that fuses into some very stylish groove playing.

Music for 1/12/23!!! Sam Sadigursky

@@@ Sam Sadigursky: The Solomon Diaries Vol 3 (Adhyaropa, 2022). I got to this jazz clarinet record via highbrow music critic Ted Gioia. I’m agnostic on Mr. Gioia’s likes and dislikes so that’s why we have to peep. I hear some klezmer-y feels and the smell of everything bagels is in the air on the opener. Instrumentation is accordion and clarinet and regular readers know that accordion is a go to for me. I also super love a fat tuba part. The vibe (at least on the opener) is chill, a bit bittersweet and melodic. I skipped to the second track as the first track is a 6 minute banger serving as a tablesetter for the rest of the record. I’m on to the second track which is peppier employing the same formula. I don’t know who is singing on the fourth track, or on the sample at the beginning of the fourth track, What You Learn Here but I believe the Jewish flavors floated to the top there like a matzoh ball in a big pot of boiling matzoh ball soup. I wish the clarinet had a little bit less reverb on it but it’s just a nit I’m picking and most bananaheads don’t even notice such thing. This record which I’m just grooving on while I do some other computer business is part of a three record cycle so I will have to get my peep on and check that out.

Music for 12/19/22!!! Potsa Lotsa, Gilad Hekselman

@@@ Potsa Lotsa XL & Youjin Sung: Gaya (Trouble in the East Records, 2022) A couple of listens from bandcamp’s best jazz of 2022. This is a medium large ensemble jazz outfit smashing into traditional Korean music elements and it’s pretty interesting. One of the co-lead musicians here, Youjin Sung, is rocking a traditional Korean stringed instrument called a gayageum. I like the vibe player, partially because I love vibes. The vibe here is firm and a bit laidback, nothing too skronky. That said I didn’t find the compositions to be particularly noteworthy. I wouldn’t put this record on my best of 2022 list but it’s interesting to hear these sounds put together.

@@@ Gilad Hekselman: Far Star (Edition, 2022) The first track here opens with a whistled melody before moving into a loping jam rock neighborhood. The second tune sounds like the opening of a progressive television show with some glitched out sounds, a little drum machine action and Hekselman’s guitar. I like some of the ideas here but overall it’s somewhat an elevator music and I would find some grit and/or contrast to be of use here. This is most definitely for people with jobs, good jobs, people who throw brunches where they drink mimosas and listen to music like this and say ‘oh my’.

Music for 10/26/22!!! Remy Le Boeuf, MV Carbon

@@@ Remy Le Boeuf: The Melancholy Architecture of Storms (Self released, 2022) A couple of listens from this week’s email from adventurous music club Roulette in Brooklyn. This is a big band record that opens with a track called Neener Neener — energetic with a circular horn line and then vibes. I love me vibes! It’s not a roaring big band sound, it’s more a of a highbrow sitch, yeah classy like. The second tune Minnesota, WI opens up with a cinematic piano tinkle and more sophisto horn work. I don’t love the sound of the record, it’s a bit restrained but I’m in the minority on this issue folks love that clean sound. I’m giving the title track a quick spin and it features a female vocalist, a bird like flute thing and while I like it, it is most definitely aimed at people with jobs who shower in the morning. I could use a bit more big band grit/power to provide some contrast to the sweetness but that’s just me.

@@@ MV Carbon and Charlemagne Palestine: Glass from The Sand (Kill Rock Stars, 2022) It’s interesting this artist is playing at Roulette which usually hosts improvised music and this single is out on Kill Rock Stars. It’s got some simple and atmospheric piano surrounded by what sounds like amp buzz and horror movie whispers. Oh, there’s a didgiredoo up in there, I’m agnostic on that and I don’t love the whispers. The piano and what sounds like a cello or stringed instrument bowing short quick notes builds. It’s an interesting example of using acoustic instruments to build an ambient tune. Outside of the components used to build it, I don’t find it super interesting but that’s just me.

Music for 9/20/22!!!! Bent Arcana, Blaqk Audio

@@@ Bent Arcana: Live Zebulon (Castle Face, 2022) This is an improvising group coming at it from the rock side, which means they’re not jazz cats but they’re trying. I’m listening to a track called The Gate, it’s a 10 minute banger, and it’s a funky rock drum beat with some jazz fusion sauce on top. It’s pretty expected. I’m giving a shout to another track, it’s called Outre Sorcellerie, anchored by a hand drum, some electro whipping about that I like and some sax playing. This is more interesting but the electric bass sorta shallows it a bit. There are some weird ass vocals and I like that. This lives in the land between love and hate. For me at least.

@@@ Blaqk Audio: Sharp Teeth (BlaqNoise Music, 2022) This opens with some straight up Madonna butter sauce, meaning heavily ’80s sounds. On an unrelated note did folks out there see how Madonna is still mad horny? That’s cool. To be honest I thought with the band name Blaqk Audio this was going to be some super spaceship r&b music from a black outfit but it’s a buncha white dudes doin’ a krautrock thing. I can be flexible. I’m now checking out the track softbitten, track 2, and I guess my feeling is I don’t know why this synth rock formula has to be resurrected. This has an updated ’80s sound and it’s impressively polished and produced but this is not aimed at me. The singer is quite not my cup of tea.

Music for 8/2/22!!! Robert Glasper, Amber Mark

@@@ Robert Glasper: Better Than I Imagined (Concord, 2022) A couple listens off Variety’s best of 2022 thus far. This is an ongoing work presenting a mashup of various black musics — jazz, hip hop, r&b, whatevs. I haven’t been a huge fan as it has sort of a pretentious feel to it and leaves out such beauteous ugliness as trap music and dancefloor genres. This is a lush, medium funky ballad with a sultry vocalist. I’m going to peep another track as this is a bit of a sleeper. I’m checking out the second track Black Superhero as it has Killer Mike on it and my distaste here continues as this is most definitely black music for black folks in brownstone Brooklyn — smooth, funky but not dirty and grizzy. Kinda classist and seems aimed at the historically black college graduates.

@@@ Amber Mark: Three Dimensions Deep (EMI, 2022) I’m going to start on the second track here, What it Is. It’s remarkably similar to the track above, lush and polished with a medium funk feel to it. I like these two tracks (this one and the one above) but I find them lacking in heat and heart. Amber has a very nice voice but I want someone to come on in and wreck up the joint. I’ve sampled parts of four different tracks and I give it a solid B. Nice sounds, maybe a bit polite, with really good singing.

Music for 7/19/22!!! Tyshawn Sorey, Stimulator Jones

@@@ Tyshawn Sorey: Mesmerism (Yeros7, 2022) This is a piano trio jazz record, pretty straight with Mr. Sorey who is a monster drummer/percussionist as well as a drummer heavily into composition. Instrumentation here is piano, drums and bass and regardless of how you feel about the tunes chosen or how the musicians do in covering them these guys can all play and Mr. Sorey makes the session much much more interesting with his quick witted playing and overall musicianship at the drum kit. This should work big time for straight jazz folks.

@@@ Stimulator Jones: Soon Never Comes (Stones Throw, 2022) I got to this alternative r&b record via the notable release email from All Music from a coupla weeks back. The first tune is heavy on both ’70s loverboy vibes and thwacky boom bap. The contrast between that snare sound and the hot fudge sundae sweetness of the rest of the tune is pleasant. If Earth Wind and Fire popped a handful of Oxycontin it would sound like the vocalist and the instrumentalists on this record. The pumped up snare is present on this second tune so maybe that’s the formula for the whole record. The third tune, and my last for this listen chooses a higher tempo drum machine but it retains that friendly ass sonic top end. The soft rock/funk here is quite extreme in its softness.

Music for 4/14/22!!! Tord Gustavson, Julmud

@@@ Tord Gustavson: Stream (ECM, 2022) Some high end jazz from ECM, a classic jazz cheese trafficker. Piano, bass and drums in this track, the whole record which I probably won’t be rocking and to say this is a chill sitch would be an understatement. No feelings got hurt in the making or the aftermath of this!!! Ah, somebody shoot a Red Bull into my eyeball I’m falling asleep!!! Wowsa, it’s just after 7pm as I listen to this and I’m not ready to go to bed. Okay, okay that’s enough, how dare the unwashed rabble not be content to snack on this. There’s a nice space where the bass player rocks a solo but it’s nothing to be scared, it’s a gentle breeze across the listener’s taint. Never has so little been presented as just right, oy.

@@@ Julmud: Harti (BilnaĆ©s, 2022) From Pitchfork’s 10 most reviewed albums. I’m a straight up sucker for Middle Eastern electronic music, so I immediately clicked up on this after encountering it in a promo email. This is slotted as hip hop on Apple Music but thus far no MC ah there’s a MC rockin’ it in oh boy, Imma have to google Julmud. He’s Palestinian and the vocals are there but the sounds seem more important in this first tune. We’ll see, I dig these complex and sophisticated rhythms. This second tune Kassara is all crunched up, snare, a drum fill, hand drums, oy it’s a lot and that’s a good thing. The third track, Haras Al Jabal, is my favorite of what I heard and I will be checking this out later. I’m on the fifth tune while I fuck around on the interwebz and this guy has something going on here. I will circle back on this record but check this out as you may like it.

Music for 3/10/22!!! Anna Weber

@@@ Anna Weber: Idiom (N/A, 2021) I got to this jazz record via the daily email from Twatter even though I’m in the middle of serving a 7 day twitter jail term for fake abuse — it’s not like I was starting a riot up there, jeesh. This record is not up on Apple Music but it is over at the recently purchased bandcamp — this is some sort of odd protest that jazz folks have been conducting for a while. I’m not sure how effective it is and how much it stimulates direct download sales but it’s her right to sell her music as she sees fit. There are twelve tracks on this record and four of them are available to stream on bandcamp. If you scroll down here bandcamp page you will see there it’s a two disc effort, one a trio record with her, a drummer and a piano player. I’m currently listening to the track Forgotten Best an 8+ minute banger and I find I’m listening the most to the piano player, he’s hittin’ it pretty good. It straddles a middle place between standard straight jazz and fiery free jazz. I’ve skipped to Idiom VI which I hope is a large ensemble track because that’s what I’m in the mood for. It opens ambient with long tones. This track is a 12 minute banger so I will probably hang for half of it. It unfolds slowly as you would expect from a 12 minute track. It’s interesting how close this is to a lot of electronic music happening out there right now — very ambient, slow melodies, a dreamlike aspiration. Just an observation that I haven’t seen mentioned out there. I’m enjoying this track a lot more than the trio track I checked out. Around the six minute mark the ensemble starts to join in and it’s a bit partyistic and bit cerebral. I like it without loving it.