I don’t need to tell you that you can’t listen to everything. In my darkest moments, the thought that if I chose to step off the edge of the world I might miss a fantastic record has brightened my corner; my (and maybe your ambition) to hear it all is doomed to thwartation, but it never keeps me from trying. I didn’t know about these five records until late last month, but they certainly would have made my 2022 Top 40. Thank the stars or whatever for other blogging rekkid obsessives!
Santigold: Spirituals (Little Jerk Records) — During her early years she was a favorite of favorite students of mine, and thus she was a favorite of mine. I’d largely forgotten about her until I was tipped off about this moving, grooving, and consistent record that, despite the title, begins with this track:
Moonchild Sanelly: Phases (Transgressive Records) — 2022 was a great year for South African dance music, and I stayed well-informed, so don’t ask me why I just know learned about this act. Sanelisiwe Twisha began her career, according to Wikipedia, in “sex entertainment,” and she ain’t shy, for sure, but when I read (not on Wikipedia, though it’s there, but two days ago from a source I already can’t remember) that she called her music “future ghetto punk,” I was all in. Clicked to sample it and was dancing and bouncing around the house. I am 61 and have vestibular neuritis, so that’s saying something. Would’ve been in my Top 20, methinks. I think I’ll send a copy to the the Missouri state capitol of creeps.
Various Artists: Ghost Riders (Efficient Space) — Talk about “other blogging rekkid obsessives”: I am not alone in being grateful for Chuck Eddy‘s existence. He’ll try anything, which is a compliment, and he recommended this Australian collection of strangely moving, eerie, and funny songs from what one Bandcamp user called “garage nobodies” early enough for me to get it onto my 2022 list. I didn’t get it in the mail until late December, then it sat on a stack waiting for me, then in early January I finally dug in. Aside from those other adjectives I used above, it’s also…naively ethereal and lovably camp. Special prizes are a non-country sequel to “Ode to Billie Joe” and a seemingly ill-advised cover of The Beatles’ “Here, There, & Everywhere,” probably my favorite McCartney-sung tune of theirs, that The Common People (heh heh) not only survive but excel on. Thanks, Chuck!
Mary Halvorson: Belladonna and Amaryllis (Nonesuch Records) — A) For some reason I back away from any artist no matter how much I enjoy their work when they release two records at once (except for Ka). B) I have usually been disappointed by “with strings” albums by artists I’m not totally nuts about (Belladona is such). C) I didn’t have time for this project. I’m just being honest. Plus Mary with strings did not appeal to me, despite the fact I dearly dig her even if it were just for this clip that I always show my women’s college students. BUT the strings album is quite beautiful especially because (not in spite) of plectoral soundwave warping, and I discovered too late that the Halvorson-influenced vibraphonist Patricia Brennan, whose 2022 record More Touch is mesmerizing, plays with and around Halvorson on it. So…fuck me, live and learn!
Mary J. Blige: Good Morning, Gorgeous (300 Entertainment Records) — One of the records my wife and I courted to was What’s The 411? I happen to think her team-up with Method Man, “All I Need”, is ETERNAL. I’ve liked everything I’ve heard by her, and enjoyed her in the film Mudbound. I recently taught the mother of her road band’s guitarist (Ma is three days older than me!), who told me many stories and showed me cool pics. I have no reason not to keep up with Mary, but I don’t. Too bad, because I think I love this record more than others who also do–there’s something about the production (by 17 different individuals? but it coheres!) that fits her like a silk glove. Now, I need to play it for Lady O.
BONUS 2022 ALBUM I ALSO FORGOT BUT I SHOULD HAVE PUT AT THE TOP:
Alaide Costa: O Que Meus Calos Dizem Sobre Mim (Tres Selos) — Truly one of the most gorgeous and richly detailed recordings of last year. It’s bossa nova of the highest order sung by the 87-year-old Costa couched in imaginative settings created by the Brazilian production team of Marcus Preto, Emicida, and Pupillo. Thanks to the intrepid Rod Taylor at Brazil Beat, my connection to the country that seems to create a wider and more consistent variety of interesting music than any I’m aware of. I would love a vinyl copy of this but it’ll be a pretty penny. Yesterday was pay day, so maybe I’ll jump. Check this out:
NOW, if you’ve read this far, last post I was moping about being driven half-insane by listing records month by month, year by year–it feels like a competition, governed by the law of diminishing returns, that inhibits my actual full enjoyment of music. Maybe I was in a bad mood–or maybe that post and this post are the emerging answer (now I need to quit Goodreads). Anyhow, here are two records from this year I inexplicably left off that post! I think I was trying not to lean to jazzward, but fuck it–this is good stuff, Maynards!
Lakecia Benjamin: Phoenix (Whirlwind) — Saxophonist Benjamin’s previous album was a tribute to John and Alice Coltrane that held up very well. In between that and this, she was involved in a car wreck that literally busted her chops. She’s rehabbed that problem–and how. This is a blazing set of original compositions augmented by some very notable guest appearances (Angela Davis? Sonia Sanchez? Wayne Shorter? Georgia Anne Muldrow? Patrice Rushen (my favorite of those names to see the light), and I’m not sure they’d have appeared if they hadn’t recognized the power of Benjamin’s playing and writing. Strongly recommended to Trane fans, but she’s got a sound all her own–and style. Dig:
Jason Moran: From the Dancehall to the Battlefield (Yes Records) — Moran’s last tribute, to Fats Waller on his last album for Blue Note, didn’t move me, and as a deep-down Wallerite that was deeply disappointing. This tribute (in Moran’s words, “a meditation on”) to the magnificent and hugely important bandleader and 369th Division Harlem Hellfighter and bandleader, the ill-fated James Reese Europe, is something else entirely. It is going to take a minute for me to fully unpack this varied, exciting, educational, and RICH record, but my sense is it will be in many Jazz Top 10s in December. It mixes takes on Reese’s tunes (and others they played), Moran’s compositions, and even a perfect contribution by none other than Pauline Oliveros, and makes a unified statement about someone most of us don’t know or at least know little about. Here’s a good original starting place: Europe’s “Memphis Blues.”