Breath of Air–The Best Records of 2022, January 1 – August 1

As I mentioned last post, I am enjoying fewer free hours to just blast new stuff. My sweetie’s home for the summer, and I feel like I’ve been taking two rigorous classes from Will Friedwald in the history of pop-jazz vocals and music that’s moved from the stage to the American Songbook. Thus, while I’m taking a deep dive into post-Trio Nat King Cole, I feel like I’ve been ignoring many explosions happening in the (not to say pop) music world. Funnily, however, it was while 98.7% engaged in the story of “Mack the Knife” (from Friedwald’s fab Stardust Memories) that I happened to try to be also listening to black midi’s Hellfire and its surging, stop-and-go, nattering power that I heard a kinship between the song, Brecht-Weill’s Threepenny Opera, and that herky-jerky, angry and complicated new album. More amusing, I am currently spending some time with my mom in her senior apartment (my brother and I just sold our parents’ house–my dad died suddenly in June 2020), and, as I am trying to get down to my teaching weight (210ish) and as I arise three hours before she does, I’ve been taking long (3.5 mile) walks and catching up with the new things. Since during the day I have been trying to finish Friedwald’s excellent but FUCKING METICULOUS Straighten Up and Fly Right: The Life and Music of Nat King Cole, and one can only listen to certain (i.e., not NEW) music while plowing through it, and since I have company and won’t put headphones on as a result, the walks are the only time I can really blast some stuff. I know you’ve been waiting for what’s that amusing: though I had intended to wait until stellar songwriting vet Tommy Womack’s new album I Thought I Was Fine arrived in CD form so I could enjoy it that way, I decided to queue it up on my first walk. Well…not only is it really damn great (especially if you’re an old, aching, regretful rock and roll filled with longing), but…yes…wait some more for it…Womack closes down the album with a couple of AMERICAN SONGBOOK NUGGETS (!!!!), “That Lucky Old Sun” and “Miss Otis Regrets”! Friedwald would approve, and Womack does not trip over his effects boxes interpreting them. It seems like a vast world, but one keeps being reminded it’s pretty small.

Couple more things:

Beyonce’s Renaissance just kicked my ass on the same walk as the Womack, and 2/3rds of the way through I thought it her best, but then it kinda lost momentum. What she’s trying to do is no easy thing: a tribute to straight-up dance music that bangs top to bottom. That’s a lot of tracks, Bey.

If you’re receptive to free jazz, you need your ears on Kentuckian Zoh Amba, who can blow and wail to bring Ayler’s ghost a smile.

I am very susceptible to jazz violin. Billy Bang, Leroy Jenkins, Claude Fiddler Williams, Ray Nance–the GREAT Stuff Smith? I listen to at least one of them heavily every month, especially Stuff. Charlie Burnham fiddled on Blood Ulmer’s Odyssey records, and he’s doing some pretty amazing things in his new band, Breath of Air.

I bet some of you have bought multiple mixes of Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers’ LAMF. Is this new “found mixes” yet another stab? No, it’s the thing.

Can a dude make music with a curled-up leaf? Don’t trust me when I say, “Oh yeah”–check out Biluka’s Leaf-Playing in Quito (1960-1965) and find yourself marveling, “That’s a leaf?”

Bolded items are new to the list

New Music 

  1. 75 Dollar Bill: Social Music at Troost, Volume 3–Other People’s Music (Black Editions Group)
  2. Rosalia: MOTOMAMI (Columbia)
  3. Billy Woods: Aethiope(Backwoodz Studios)
  4. Tanya TagaqTongues (Six Shooter) 
  5. Ricky Ford: The Wailing Sounds of Ricky Ford—Paul’s Scene (Whaling City Sounds)
  6. Stro Elliot & James Brown: Black & Loud—James Brown Reimagined (Polydor)
  7. Miranda Lambert: Palomino (Vanner)
  8. Willie Nelson: A Beautiful Time (Sony)
  9. Tommy Womack: I Thought I Was Fine (Schoolkids Records)
  10. Wadada Leo Smith: The Emerald Duets (TUM)
  11. Superchunk: Wild Loneliness (Merge)
  12. Gonora Sounds: Hard Times Never Kill (Phantom Limb)
  13. Wet Leg: Wet Leg (Domino)
  14. Beyoncé: Renaissance (Parkwood Entertainment)
  15. Amber Mark:Three Dimensions Deep (PMR / Interscope) 
  16. Etran de L’AirAgadez (Sahel Sounds)
  17. Morgan Wade: Reckless (Deluxe) (Ladylike) 
  18. Lady Wray: Piece of Me (Big Crown)
  19. Bob Vylan: Bob Vylan Presents The Price of Life (Ghost Theatre)
  20. Moor Mother: Jazz Codes (Anti-)
  21. Mark Lomax II: Prismatic Refractions, Volume I (self-released)
  22. Horace Andy: Midnight Rocker (On-U Sound)
  23. black midi: Hellfire (Rough Trade)
  24. ensemble 0: Music Nuvulosa (Sub Rosa)
  25. Anna von HausswoolffLive at Montreaux Jazz Festival (Southern Lord) 
  26. Various Artists: Lespri Ka—New Directions in Gwoka Music from Guadeloupe (Time Capsule Sounds) 
  27. Ches Smith: Interpret It Well (Pyroclastic)
  28. Mark Lomax Trio: Plays Mingus (CFG Multimedia)
  29. 700 Bliss: Nothing to Declare (Hyperdub)
  30. Heroes Are Gang Leaders: LeAutoRoiGraphy (577 Records)
  31. Jinx Lennon: Pet Rent (Septic Tiger)
  32. Freakons: Freakons (Fluff & Gravy)
  33. Daniel Villareal: Panama ’77 (International Anthem)
  34. Mary Gauthier: Dark Enough to See the Stars (Thirty Tigers)
  35. Ama Gogela: Phelimuncasi (Nyege Nyege Tapes)
  36. Joy Guidry:Radical Acceptance (Whited Sepulchre)
  37. Kehlani: blue water road (TSNMI/Atlantic)
  38. Zoh Amba: O, Sun (Tzadik)
  39. Felipe Salles: Tiyo’s Songs of Life (Tapestry)
  40. Nancy Mounir: Nozhet El Nofous (Terrorbird)
  41. Javon Jackson & Nikki Giovanni: The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni (Solid Jackson) 
  42. Oumou Sangare: Timbuktu (World Circuit Limited)
  43. Various Artists: Hidden Waters—Strange and Sublime Sounds from Rio de Janiero (Sounds and Colours)
  44. Nduduzo Makhathini: In the Spirit of Ntu (Universal)
  45. Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: Elastic Wave (ECM)
  46. Miguel Zeñon: Musica de las Americas (Miel Music)
  47. Isaiah Collier & The Chosen Few: Lift Every Voice (Division 81 Records)
  48. Priscilla BlockWelcome to the Block Party (InDent)
  49. Anitta: Versions of Me (Warner)
  50. Serengeti: Kaleidoscope III (Audiocon)
  51. Kendrick Lamar: Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers(pgLang/Top Dawg Entertainment/Aftermath/Interscope)
  52. OGJB: Ode to O (TUM) (Note: Band name – O = Oliver Lake, G = Graham Haynes, J = Joe Fonda, B = Barry Altschul / Title – O = Ornette) 
  53. Andrew Cyrille, William Parker, and Enrico Rava: Two Blues for Cecil (TUM) 
  54. Luke Stewart’s Silt TrioThe Bottom(Cuneiform) 
  55. Tyler Mitchell: Dancing Shadows (featuring Marshall Allen) (Mahakala Music)
  56. Wild Up: Julius Eastman, Volume 2—Joy Boy (New Amsterdam)
  57. Carl Stone: Wat Dong Moon Lek (Unseen Worlds)
  58. Mitski: Laurel Hell (Dead Oceans)
  59. Breath of Air: Breath of Air (Burning Ambulance Music)
  60. Immanuel Wilkins: The 7th Hand (Blue Note) 
  61. David Murray Brave New World Trio: Seriana Promethea (Intakt)
  62. Fulu MizikiNgbaka (EP)
  63. David Virelles: Nuna (Pi / El Tivoli)
  64. Steve Lehman: Xaybu—The Unseen (Pi Recordings)
  65. Tom Zé: Lingua Brasiliera (Selo Sesc)
  66. Leikeli47: Shape Up (Hardcover/RCA)
  67. Hurray for The Riff Raff: Life on Earth (Nonesuch)
  68. Rokia Koné and Jacknife Lee: Bamanan (3DFamily)
  69. Tomas Fujiwara: Triple Double (Firehouse 12)
  70. DJ Black Low: Uwami (Awesome Tapes from Africa)
  71. Ibibio Sound Machine: Electricity (Merge)
  72. Zoh Amba: O Life, O Light, Volume 1 (577 Records)
  73. Burton/McPherson Trio: The Summit Rock Session at Seneca Village (Giant Step Arts)
  74. Kahil El’Zabar Quartet: A Time for Healing (Spirit Muse)
  75. Pastor Champion: I Just Want to Be a Good Man (Luaka Bop)
  76. Nduduzo Makhathini: In the Spirit of Ntu (Blue Note)
  77. Pusha T: It’s Almost Dry (G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam)
  78. Elza SoaresElza Ao Vivo No Municipal (Deck)
  79. Nilufer Yanya: Painless (ATO)
  80. Satoko Fujii and Joe Fonda: Thread of Light (Fundacja Słuchaj)
  81. Charli XCX: Crash (Atlantic)
  82. Pete Malinverni: On the Town—Pete Malinverni Plays Leonard Bernstein(Planet Arts) 
  83. David Friend & Jerome Begin: Post- (New Amsterdam)
  84. Dedicated Men of Zion: The Devil Don’t Like It (Bible & Tire)
  85. Tyshawn Sorey Trio: Mesmerism (Pi Recordings)
  86. Space AfrikaHonest Labour (Dais)
  87. Charlotte Adigery & Bolis Pupul: Topical Dancer (DeeWee)
  88. Earl Sweatshirt: Sick! (Tan Cressida / Warner) 
  89. Belle & Sebastian: A Bit of Previous (Matador)
  90. Big Thief: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You (4AD)
  91. Jeff Arnal and Curt Cloninger: Drum Major Instinct (Mahakala Music)
  92. Tee Grizzley: Half Tee Half Beast (self-released)
  93. Hoodoo Gurus: Chariot of The Gods (Big Time Photographic Recordings)
  94. Natsuki TamuraSummer Tree (Libra)
  95. (D)ivo: Perelman, Berne, Malaby, Carter (Mahakala Music)
  96. Daniel Carter et al.: Telepatica (577 Records)
  97. Ghais Guevara: There Will Be No Super-Slave (self-released)
  98. Spoon:Lucifer on the Sofa (Matador)
  99. Pierre Kwenders: Jose Louis and the Paradox of Love (Arts & Crafts)
  100. Manel Fortia: Despertar (Segell Microscopi/Altafonte)
  101. Ray Wylie Hubbard: Co-Starring Too (Big Machine)
  102. Various Artists: if you fart make it sound good (WA Records)
  103. Marta Sanchez: SAAM (Spanish American Art Museum) (Whirlwind)
  104. Earthgang: Ghetto Gods (Dreamville/Interscope)
  105. Mavis Staples & Levon Helm: Carry Me Home (Anti-)

Archival Digs:

  1. Los Golden Boys: Cumbia de Juventud (Mississippi Records)
  2. Albert Ayler: Revelations—The Complete ORTF 1970 Fondation Maeght Recordings(Elemental)
  3. Cecil Taylor:The Complete Legendary Live Return Concert at the Town Hall (Oblivion)
  4. Various Artists: Lovers Rock—The Soulful Sound of Romantic Reggae (Trojan)
  5. The Heartbreakers: LAMF—The ’77 Found Mixes (Jungle)
  6. Albert Ayler: La Cave Live 1966 (Ezz-Thetics) 
  7. Various Artists: Cumbia Sabrosa—Tropical Sound System Bangers From The Discos Fuentes Vaults 1961-1981 (Rocafort Records)
  8. Biluka y Los Canibales: Leaf-Playing in Quito (1960-1965) (Honest Jon’s)
  9. Various Artists: A Chat About the Beauty of the Moon at Night–Hawaiian Steel Guitar Masters 1913-1921 (Magnificent Sounds)
  10. The Rolling Stones: Live at the El Mocambo (Interscope)
  11. Son House: Forever on My Mind (Easy Eye Sound)
  12. Lavender Country:Blackberry Rose and Other Songs & Sorrows (Don Giovanni)
  13. Horace Tapscott Quintet: Legacies for Our Grandchildren (Dark Tree)
  14. Various Artists: The D-Vine Spirituals—Sacred Soul (Bible & Tire)
  15. Kabaka International Guitar Band: Kabaka International Guitar Band (Palenque Records)
  16. The Pyramids: AOMAWA—The 1970s Recordings (Strut)
  17. Hermeto Pascoal: Hermeto (Far Out Recordings)
  18. Sun Ra: Sun Ra Arkestra Meets Salah Ragab in Egypt (Strut)
  19. Asha Puthi: The Essential Asha Puthi (Mr. Bongo)
  20. Malik’s Emerging Force Art Trio: Time and Condition (moved-by-sound)
  21. Volta Jazz: Air Volta (Numero)
  22. Various Artists: From Lion Mountain—Traditional Music of Yeha, Ethiopia (Dust-to-Digital)
  23. Ronnie Boykins: The Will Come is Now (ESP-Disk)
  24. Cecil Taylor: Respiration (Fundacja Stuchaj)
  25. Norma Tanega: Studio and Demo Recordings, 1964-1971 (Anthology)
  26. Irma Thomas: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 1976 (Good Time)
  27. Afrika Negra: Antologia, Volume 1 (Bongo Joe)
  28. Various Artists: Summer of Soul (Legacy)
  29. Ann Peebles and the Hi Rhythm Section: Live in Memphis (Memphis International)
  30. Neil Young: Carnegie Hall 1970 (Reprise)

I Don’t Feel Tardy. I Don’t Feel Hardy. But I Feel That Wild Loneliness…. (January 1 – March 6, 2022)

Sorry I’m late; life is interfering. Not for the first time has a family (or other loved one’s) health crisis interrupted my much less important obsession with documenting my favorite records of the past days, weeks, months, and years–and with me, it seems, when it rains, it’s like a cow pissin’ off a cliff onto a flat rock. I’m truly multiply occupied (I am also teaching a brand-new class on groundbreaking women in this country’s music that is requiring regular and very exciting hard work), so I am behind in some ways. But I just turned 60, I feel like I’m 35 in a sea of stress, so it must be real love…and the music.

  1. What I’m really waiting for are the new albums by Wet Leg (can the whole album be that good?) and Rosalia (the flamenco touches seem to be wafting away, but on the evidence of the singles, she remains a force). The former’s out soon; the latter will require enduring a multi-month tease.
  2. I often check things out on a whim. Joy Guidry’s new album’s cover and title had me thinking a very interesting rap album–but it’s improvisational jazz, and good stuff at that.
  3. Superchunk’s never been one of my top faves, but their classic What a Time to Be Alive dragged me kicking and screaming into a state of deep admiration and a practice of repeat plays. Their new record is almost a companion piece, but from a completely different and powerful emotional direction–I just listened to it for the first time today and, in the state I’m in, it killed me.
  4. One of the world’s greatest rock and roll deejays, Whitney Shroyer, a longtime friend and advisor, implored me to sample Lady Wray, whom I’d not heard of (it happens–a lot). Though I like its predecessor a little better, from a singing, songwriting, and production standpoint, Piece of Me is a solid pleasure.
  5. Did I tell ya to read Tanya Tagaq’s Split Tooth and check out her new album Tongues? Yes, I did. I was fucking serious. They go together, and they deliver.
  6. It’s not every late winter that you can buy two classic creations by a known wizard reissued from those too-halycon-from-a-preservationist-perspective Seventies. This is one of them. They also call him Hermeto.
  7. High on the “appreciation” scale but wavering on the “diggit” scale: the new offerings by Big Thief and Black Country, New Roads.
  8. Lavender Country is a gay and politically smart-ass country outfit dating back to 1972. Their album in the archival digs category is only three years old, but it might as well have come out today. It is NOT simply a novelty; it’s well-played, wittily sung and written, and will cattle-prod you out of the corner of your ear.
  9. I feel like I’m experiencing an explosion of sharp country music women coming from tantalizingly marginally differentiated viewpoints (JUST IN TIME FOR MY NEW CLASS). Priscilla Block’s the latest, and I’ll let you discover the viewpoint.
  10. Gonora Sounds’ Hard Times Never Kill is a beautiful-sounding album from Zimbabwe.
  11. I wish I had heard Adeem the Artist‘s Cast-Iron Pansexual (like about 20 other 2021 albums) when it came out. Great songs, one of which made me tear up, and he wished me a happy birthday on Twitter!
  12. (Hidden track)(Whispered to avoid having things thrown at me, but…) I’ll say it: Spoon’s never really done it for me. I’ve learned never say never–but my first listen was at 5:15 this morning and it livelied me up. Could have been the Death Wish coffee pods my brother left at my mom’s house, though.

Newbies (new items are bolded):

  1. 75 Dollar Bill: Social Music at Troost, Volume 3–Other People’s Music (Black Editions Group) (left off my original post unaccountably!) 

  1. Tanya Tagaq: Tongues (Six Shooter) 

  1. Superchunk: Wild Loneliness 

  1. Gonora Sounds: Hard Times Never Kill 

  1. Amber Mark: Three Dimensions Deep (PMR / Interscope) 

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

  1. Etran de L’Air: Agadez 

  1. Morgan Wade: Reckless (Deluxe) (Ladylike) 

  1. Lady Wray: Piece of Me 

  1. Mark Lomax II: Prismatic Refractions, Volume I 

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

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

  1. Joy Guidry: Radical Acceptance 

  1. Spoon: Lucifer on the Sofa 

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

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

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

  1. Priscilla Block: Welcome to the Block Party 

  1. Immanuel Wilkins: The 7th Hand (Blue Note) 

  1. Earl Sweatshirt: Sick! (Tan Cressida / Warner) 

  1. Big Thief: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You 

  1. Fulu Miziki: Ngbaka (EP) 

  1. Black Country, New Roads: Ants from Up There 

  1. Hurray for The Riff Raff: Life on Earth 

  1. Rokia Koné and Jacknife Lee: Bamanan 

  1. Marta Sanchez: SAAM (Spanish American Art Museum) 

  1. Tomas Fujiwara: Triple Double 

  1. Junglepussy: jp5000 (EP) 

  1. Kahil El’Zabar Quartet: A Time for Healing 

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

  1. Chief Keef: 4Nem (Glo Gang / RBC) 

  1. The Weeknd: Dawn FM (XO / Republic) 

  1. Martin Wind: Air (Laika) 

  1. Space Afrika: Honest Labour 

  1. Natsuki Tamura: Summer Tree 

Archival Digs: 

Cecil Taylor: The Complete Legendary Live Return Concert at the Town Hall 

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

Neil Young: Carnegie Hall 1970 (Reprise) 

Various Artists: Summer of Soul 

Lavender Country: Blackberry Rose and Other Songs & Sorrows

Hermeto Pascoal: Planetário da Gávea 

Hermeto Pascoal: Hermeto (not out yet, but fuck it–it’s worth planning for!)