A 2022 Top Ten Already? All. Ready. I Got 17 + 2.

One thing I do like about striving to root out excellent albums in the first month of a new year is the search forces me out of my comfort zones. True: I’m seldom uncomfortable in any particular musical zone if I can dig deep enough to find the right stuff; I’m hesitant about anything too bourgeois, to be frank, but even such artifacts can provide thrills. I’ve also been aided by having found myself on a few jazz labels’ mailing lists, so some items below aren’t yet out (soon, soon), but I’ve sampled them enough to get a kick out of ’em. Will any of these stick to the list? That’s always the question when it comes to the early months–last January I opened with a couple of classical albums by artists just disruptive enough for me to be attracted to their work, and one made it (big time) and the other faded (though I still like it). But I guarantee those top three will still be riding high.

Odds and ends:

*Tagaq’s album is a companion to her very unique and blazing memoir, Split Tooth. Read that.

*I was previously unfamiliar with Mark’s work. Pitchfork dug it and the album cover gave me Miguel vibes. I really enjoyed it end to end, and there’s something that tears slightly in her voice at just the right times that engage me in her singing and songs even more deeply.

*Since Greg Tate passed, I’ve revisited a bit of his writing, but I’ve also been alerted to pieces I didn’t know about–particularly about master poet Nikki Giovanni’s recordings. Tate’s writing always costs me money because he turns me on to music and books about which I know nothing or little; I am confident, had he lived to hear it, he would have loved saxophonist Jackson’s gospel album with Giovanni. I’m an atheist and I’ve already played it thrive. Coming soon.

*I ONLY tried to the von Hausswoolff because the album cover looked like Gustave Dore’s work. THEN I find myself unable to turn it off.

*I was totally uninformed about old directions in music from Guadeloupe. Based on the new directions, I probably better change that condition.

*Pete Malinverni might not seem my (or your) jam, but I’ll be damned if the West Side Story remake didn’t bubble my blood for Bernstein, and Malinverni’s foray below injected itself right into my satisfaction of that desire.

*Valid questions both: Do I really need another live Ayler record? Do I really need another live Neil record? Yes and yes. Ayler’s set was played before a Cleveland audience, and perhaps it inspires him to take several unexpected turns in musical variation, space, and tone–at least to my ear, and I’m an Aylerian. Neil’s acoustic at Carnegie, but it’s the surprise inclusions in the set list as well as stellar performances that have me contemplating a vinyl purchase (if that’s even possible). OK, on with it…

*The 75 Dollar Bill is easily my favorite album of the year. I forgot all about it somehow because I had not added it to my reference folder–probably because I was distracted by playing it over and over. It’s a covers album. Y’know, the usual suspects: Ono, Partch, Oliveros, Neg-Fi, Ron Padgett. Plus some outsiders like Dylan, Toussaint, and the MC5. They do ’em up.

New (and Upcoming) Releases That I’ve Heard And Really Like (Kinda in order, especially the first three):

75 Dollar Bill: Social Music at Troost, Volume 3–Other People’s Music (Black Editions Group) (left off my original post unaccountably!)

Tanya Tagaq: Tongues (Six Shooter)

Amber Mark: Three Dimensions Deep (PMR / Interscope)

Javon Jackson & Nikki Giovanni: The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni (Solid Jackson)

Morgan Wade: Reckless (Deluxe) (Ladylike)

Mark Lomax II: Prismatic Refractions, Volume I

Anna von Hausswoolff: Live at Montreaux Jazz Festival (Southern Lord)

Various Artists: Lespri Ka—New Directions in Gwoka Music from Guadeloupe (Time Capsule Sounds)

OGJB: Ode to O (TUM) (Note: Band name – O = Oliver Lake, G = Graham Haynes, J = Joe Fonda, B = Barry Altschul / Title – O = Ornette)

The Weeknd: Dawn FM (XO / Republic)

Andrew Cyrille, William Parker, and Enrico Rava: Two Blues for Cecil (TUM)

Luke Stewart’s Silt Trio: The Bottom (Cuneiform)

Chief Keef: 4Nem (Glo Gang / RBC)

Immanuel Wilkins: The 7th Hand (Blue Note)

Earl Sweatshirt: Sick! (Tan Cressida / Warner)

Pete Malinverni:  On the Town—Pete Malinverni Plays Leonard Bernstein (Planet Arts)

Martin Wind: Air (Laika)

Archival Digs:

Albert Ayler: La Cave Live 1966 (Ezz-Thetics)

Neil Young: Carnegie Hall 1970 (Reprise)

Living to Listen’s Top Albums of 2020, Part II (I refuse to admit we’re in a different calendar year–even today, which is the dawn of 2020, Part III)

Yes, I know it’s 2022, and this list is dedicated to the top spins of 2021. But it feels to me as if 2020 started on March 15 of that actual year (The Ides, you know) and has declared the turning of the last two annums invalid. Until I feel differently, I’m gonna keep believing it, though, like Joe Tex’s man in that Viet Nam foxhole, I believe we’re gonna make it.

If you follow this blog, you know the good records mount and mount until there seems to be no sane scaling of them. For your pleasure and convenience, I’ve topped them off to a mere 50 like I’m lookin’ for coal and to hell with the slag (the still-pleasurable slag). This time, my rubric is simple: How likely, really, am I to listen to these albums several times more while I continue trying, in my futile battle against the dustbin of time to save every flower, to keep up with the mounds of fresh sounds? You can always access the previous months’ lists for those a cast a cold eye upon, though December’s getting shafted in that regard. Also, I’ve voted in a couple of year-end polls and, as usual, I make no promises (to anyone who really cares) that these results will match up with those. One never drops the same needle on the same record twice.

The archival digs I’ve trimmed to 25. I know I had that massive, well-appointed, and long-overdue Marian Anderson box at #1 last month, and now it’s not on the list at all–I guess that was a) pretentious; b) the happy historian in me; and c) overambitious.

Goodbye, Greg Tate. Why’d you have to go? I hope there is enough of your uncollected passionate criticism to fill another bucket of buttermilk with (gad)flies. It’s hard to imagine not being able to keep reading your newest insights for the rest of my life. And one thing I really appreciate looking back on your work I’ve read (most of it) is how seldom you were an asshole…if ever. Your style seemed to exclude that as a choice.

Thanks to the kindness of Tom Hull, I was invited to vote in the Jazz Critics Poll. Should you be curious, here’s my ballot (scroll down to the O’s).

In a related development, I’m considering a move to Scandinavia….

Bolded titles are new to the list, and to be fair, most of the releases I dug in December are on the list.

  1. Wild Up: Julius Eastman, Volume 1–Femenine 
  2. Ingebrigt Håker Flaten: (Exit) Knarr 
  3. James Brandon Lewis: Jesup Wagon  
  4. East Axis: Cool With That  
  5. Gift of Gab: Finding Inspiration Somehow
  6. Ka: Martyr’s Reward
  7. Little Simz: Sometimes I Might Be Introverted 
  8. Miguel Zenon: Law Years—The Music of Ornette Coleman  
  9. Gimenez Lopez: Reunion en la granja 
  10. No-No Boy: 1975  
  11. The Halluci Nation: One More Saturday Night 
  12. Robert Finley: Sharecropper’s Son  
  13. Mauricio Tagliari: Maô_Danças Típicas de Cidades Imaginárias 
  14. Mickey Guyton: Remember Her Name 
  15. Mdou Moctar: Afrique Victim  
  16. King Britt & Tyshawn Sorey: Tyshawn and King  
  17. For Those I Love: For Those I Love 
  18. Mariá Grand: Reciprocity 
  19. R. A. P. Ferreira: The Light Emitting Diamond Cutter Scriptures 
  20. R.A.P. Ferreira: Bob’s Son   
  21. Trondheim Jazz Orchestra & Ole Morten Vågan: Plastic Wave 
  22. The Source: …But Swinging Doesn’t Bend Them Down 
  23. Peter Stampfel and Jeffrey Lewis: Both Ways 
  24. Various Artists: Sacred Soul of North Carolina 
  25. Mexstep: Vivir 
  26. The Ebony Hillbillies: Barefoot and Flying
  27. William Parker: Mayan Space Station
  28. Marta Gabriel: Metal Queen 
  29. Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Life After 
  30. Fire in Little Africa: Fire in Little Africa  
  31. Tim Berne: Broken Shadows  
  32. Dwayne Dopsie and The Zydeco Hellraisers: Set Me Free 
  33. Monster Magnet: A Better Dystopia 
  34. Dry Cleaning: New Long Leg  
  35. Dawn Richard: Second Line  
  36. Lukah: Why Look Up, God’s in the Mirror 
  37. Marianne Faithfull (with Warren Ellis): She Walks in Beauty  
  38. Low-Cut Connie: Tough Cookies  
  39. Paris: Safe Space Invader  
  40. girl in red: if I could make it go quiet   
  41. Orquestra Brasileira: 80 Anos 
  42. Bitchin’ Bajas: Switched-On Ra  
  43. Body Metta: The Work is Slow  
  44. Anthony Joseph: The Rich are Only Defeated When Running for Their Lives  
  45. Ducks Ltd: Get Bleak 
  46. Isaiah Collier & The Chosen Few: Cosmic Transitions 
  47. Backxwash: I Lie Here with My Rings and Dresses  
  48. Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber: Angels Over Oakanda 
  49. Neil Young: Barn 
  50. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss: Raise the Roof 
    Archaeological Digs 
  1. Julius Hemphill: The Boyé Multinational Crusade for Harmony   
  2. JuJu: Live at 131 Prince Street  
  3. The Plastic People of the Universe: Egon Bondy’s Happy Hearts Club Banned 
  4. Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber: 20th Anniversary Mixtapes / Groiddest Schizznits 
  5. Bobo Jenkins: My All-New Life Story 
  6. Khaira Arby: Khaira Arby in New York  
  7. Various Artists: A Stranger I May Be—Savoy Gospel 1954-1966  
  8. ICP Orchestra: Incipient ICP (1966-1971) 
  9. Plastic People of The Universe: Apokalyptickej pták   
  10. Roy Brooks: Understanding 
  11. Bruce Springsteen and The E-Street Band: The Legendary No Nukes Concerts 
  12. Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Down in the Rust Bucket  
  13. Mujician: 10 10 10 
  14. Various Artists: Journeys in Modern Jazz–Britain
  15. Leo Nocentelli: Another Side 
  16. Agustin Pereyra Lucena Quartet: La Rana 
  17. John Coltrane: A Love Supreme—Live in Seattle 
  18. Screamers: Demo Hollywood 1977 
  19. Hamiet Blueitt: Bearer of the Holy Flame  
  20. Byard Lancaster: My Pure Joy  
  21. Various Artists: The Smithsonian Anthology of Rap and Hip Hop  
  22. Charles Mingus: Mingus at Carnegie Hall # 
  23. The J Ann C Trio: At Tan-Tar-A 
  24. Mistreater: Hell’s Fire  
  25. Pure Hell: Noise Addiction