Not THAT Thomas Jefferson! (February 23rd, 2018, Columbia, Missouri)

I love old-time New Orleans jazz records–that so many seem to and might actually have been recorded in an empty VFW hall is a charm I cannot resist–and I was pleasantly surprised earlier this week when those nice kids at Hitt Records gave me a copy of Thomas Jefferson’s If I Could Be with You One Hour Tonight. Jefferson is one of the later-period greats of traditional NOLA trumpeting, and he sounds great on this record I’d never heard of (he’s an affecting singer, too); it was actually recorded at The Lord Napier in Surrey, England, and the set list features some warm surprises (“A Long Way to Tipperary”). One of the clerks, Taylor, had had a conversation with me about a similar record I’d found at the store, and said to me, “Y’know, I don’t know much about this stuff–I probably need to get caught up.” He must be wasting no time.

I have been the beneficiary of great generosity this week, and much of it hasn’t had to do with my birthday. My good friend Isaac, with whom I share a constant stream of wonderful music on a regular basis, alerted me to the release of a new record by Hailu Mergia, an Ethiopian pianist of considerable reknown. If you don’t think you need to hear Ethiopian piano-based music, sorry, but you do. Mergia’s Lala Belu combines fascinating searching melodies (Mariam Gebru, his fellow Ethiopian keyboardist, seems to have minted them) with striking, swirling accordian, dark-toned violin, and lightly funky drums. Here’s the whole record:

Finally…about my entry of 2/22/18? I’d mentioned Joyful Noise Recordings’ “White Label Series”? Well, I gave a deeper listen to one of those, the band Berry’s Everything, Compromised, and I think it’s major, one of the best releases of 2018. The album title’s an unfortunately accurate aspersion cast on the state of the nation, and for pop music political statements, especially in the indie rock vein, it’s remarkably subversive, witty, pointed, and weird. If you’re both pissed and bemused, you might want to pick it up if you can find it.

http://berrytheband.bandcamp.com/album/everything-compromised

Short-shrift Division:

More later, I am sure, on this one, but Superchunk’s new and mordant What A Time to Be Alive is also a real killer with a political edge–and does it rock out!

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