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)
Albert Ayler: La Cave Live 1966 (Ezz-Thetics)
Neil Young: Carnegie Hall 1970 (Reprise)