February 11 – March 7: A Thin and Motley Crew

Maybe the fact that this year’s class of nice new albums has kinda oozed out like molasses is due the frustrations, chaos, depression, struggle, and occasional collapses of 2021’s second half. I dunno. Below are the platters I’ve quite enjoyed, but in order for it to even look like a two-month list I’ve incorporated archival digs (one of which is–all seven great discs of it–at the top of the heap), which I usually separate out. I’ve finally gotten smart and added hyperlinks to additional album information as I go (rather than regretting that I hadn’t later), and I’ve switched my album cover slideshow to a cumulative one. If these stunning achievements seem a bit meager to you, hey–I’m old.


Both those box sets are well worth the time one needs to spend: #1, unreleased examples of the stunning, versatile genius of Black Arts Group veteran composer / player / arranger Hemphill, #2, the luscious fruit of a lifetime of plumbing and glorying in the depths of American song by Stampfel.

Two classical works? Yes, two classical works. It’s not that I’m desperate; it just so happens that new interpretations of justly famous works of my favorite traditional classical composer (Messiaen) and my favorite experimental classical performer (Eastman) have showed up together.

Strut Records’ ongoing resuscitation of the Black Fire label’s catalog continues to excite, enlighten, and inspire me–plus it nicely dovetails with the moment.

  1. Julius Hemphill: The Boyé Multinational Crusade for Harmony
  2. JuJu: Live at 131 Prince Street
  3. Peter Stampfel: Peter Stampfel’s 20th Century in 100 Songs
  4. Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Down in the Rust Bucket
  5. Julien Baker: Little Oblivions
  6. Various Artists: Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America–A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute
  7. Yvette Janine Jackson: Freedom
  8. Nermin Niazi: Disco Se Aagay
  9. Various Artists: Indaba Is
  10. Wau Wau Collectif: Yaral Sa Doom
  11. Madlib: Sound Ancestors
  12. Byard Lancaster: My Pure Joy
  13. Jazmine Sullivan: Heaux Tales
  14. Founders: Songs for the End of Time
  15. Archie Shepp and Jason Moran: Let My People Go
  16. Joe Lovano, Marilyn Crispell, and Carmen Castaldi: Garden of Expression
  17. Yasmin Williams: Urban Driftwood
  18. Corey Ledet: Corey Ledet Zydeco
  19. Ensemble 0: Performs Julius Eastman’s Femenine
  20. Thumbscrew: Never is Enough
  21. Steve Earle: JT (late addition! FORGOT IT….)