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!

A Birthday Playlist (February 22nd, 2018, Columbia, Missouri)

I turned 56 yesterday, and I admit I was a bit too distracted to now be making any sense of what I listened to, which was plenty. So, after a few bits of news, I’ll just leave you with a playlist of the highlights.

Nicole and I had breakfast at Ernie’s, a diner which every visitor to Columbia should visit. Whatever blues satellite station they were tuned to was kickin’ my ass–we didn’t have Shazam handy, and the selections were stumping me, which, to be honest, isn’t easy for a blues satellite station to do. A sprightly blues version of “Old Chunk of Coal”? Hmmmm.

Perhaps one of the best presents I received was from Netflix, which announced a Roxanne Shante biopic set for a March 23rd release. I’m all about that, as she has long been a hero of mine; as she once put it herself, she gave birth to most of them MCs. Here’s the trailer, which looks mighty promising:

Also, I subscribed this year to a very interesting series of albums Joyful Noise Recordings is curating. The White Label Series sends subscribers an “undiscovered LP” each month; each LP has been chosen by an already-established artist (the presence of Serengeti, Mike Watt, and Aesop Rock convinced me to pony up) and is limited to a 500-copy run. I finally had time to listen to the first two White Label releases yesterday: Weirding Module’s A Newer Age (curated by Kid Millions, and including an apology to Italo Calvino!) and Berry’s Everything, Compromised (curated by Dale Nixon, who was initially transfixed by the band at an unamed dive bar in St. Louis). The former features some aggressive and zoinky noise which I kinda liked; the latter, which I wasn’t able to concentrate much on at first but came quickly back to, some very plaintive, literate, subversive (!!) and odd semi-pop music. I have to give them both more attention, but I really like the idea, especially since the liner notes require the curators to justify their choices, and since it forces me out of my comfort zone. Care to sample?

Annnnnnd…here’s my birthday playlist! Enjoy!