Good to My Earhole, August 11 – September 6: Through Many Dangers, I Finally Posted Again

Highlights of last few weeks’ listening, rated on a 10-point scale calibrated to how close I was to falling out:

THOSE WERE DIFFERENT TIMES: CLEVELAND 1972-1976 – 8.8 – Cleveland: the secret capitol of punk rock. The Mirrors, Electric Eels (especially–trigger alert!), and Styrenes don’t go down as easily as, say, the Dolls, or EVEN Rocket from The Tombs/Pere Ubu. They care less for tunes than for abrasion and unmediated expression. But I wonder if it that wasn’t the point. And John Morton and Craig Bell still have tricks remaining up their sleeves, or sticking out of their back pockets, lit.

Marion Williams/THROUGH MANY DANGERS–CLASSIC PERFORMANCES 1965-1993 – 10 – As a member of the Clara Ward Singers, her pure power and emotional range pushed the gospel group format to new heights. Little Richard caught her “wooooooo” and put it to, shall we say, a less pure use. And she just got better, as this #AnthonyHeilbut-curated collection demonstrates. The final track, simply a moan, may put every gospel cut you’ve ever heard to shame.

The Greenhornes/SEWED SOLES – 8.8 – To my ear, they’re the Dwight Yoakam/Robert Cray/Tom Petty of the American garage. They have the form and the style mastered. They put feeling and care into their work. They are smart enough to work in changes of pace (here with an assist from Holly Golightly) among the many riffs. And while they seldom set off a fire ripping through the range, their commitment makes for tough, soulful listening. A great compilation that got lost in the shuffle during garage-punk-gunk’s cometic moment.

James Carter/CHASIN’ THE GYPSY – 10 – If you want to check out a relatively recent swinging jazz record that ain’t museum-musty-dusty, and if you want to witness maybe our most contemporary mainstream master at his apex, before he went on cruise control, go no further than this. It’s mostly Django Reinhardt tunes, with originals that tip their hats to his legacy, but rather than try to recapture that fleet guitarist’s breezy flourishes, chunk-a-chunks, and exciting shifts, Carter just sets off multi-reed fireworks–some of them M80s, others spinners, still others with colors and noises you’ve not heard and seen before. Come to think of it, flourishes abound–but they’re more like hurricanes. And while, according to a vaunted expert, all tribute albums suck, they don’t when there’s the right balance of love, deep knowledge, and irreverence. With cousin Regina Carter on furious violin and Jay “Astral Weeks/The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady” Berliner on guitar. Try to resist the zany, headlong, near-impossible momentum of the title cut, and try not to be seduced by exotic “Oriental Shuffle.” Double-effin’ dare ya.

Michael Kiwanuka/LOVE AND HATE – 8.3 – This young man projects a serious Marvin vibe.His pipes aren’t quite THERE, but he can project, he can write, the production is sensitive, moody, if a tad nostalgic, and it’s certainly of the moment, if you get my drift. I put it on for what I thought would just be background to grading, expecting it to merely whelm me–and he kept catching me up short with understated lines and choruses. I don’t want to get fooled like I feel did with Aloe Blacc, but this kid seems to be coming from a deeper place; I am not sure Blacc would risk something as direct as “Black Man in a White World.” What do you think?

Black Flag/WHO’S GOT THE 10 1/2? – 9.5 – The Who of the hardcore world (tough guy up front delivering sly-guy guitarist’s heartfelt, angry, antagonistic, ridiculous, audience-aware words) deliver their LIVE AT LEEDS. Funny how often when I NEED this band I turn to this. Great song selection, unchained six-string, maybe Henry’s last great sustained (recorded) moment on stage.

Apologies to White Lung, Dorothy Love Coates, Delaney & Bonnie, Ruth Davis, and White Lung–I ran out of time and energy. I hope to catch y’all on the rebound.

Good to My Earhole, March 1-9: “Destroyed on The Lathe of Heaven”

Carter

James Carter Organ Trio: LIVE AT THE ST. LOUIS JAZZ BISTRO, MARCH 4-5, 2016 – 10 – First time I’ve got to see a major jazz player multiple nights of a residency, and now I want to do it again. Measured from his explosive entry onto the jazz battlefield, Carter may not now be what every jazz buff must have expected from him by the time he reached his forties, but, I’ll tell you this: he’s really NOT abandoned his core values from his late teens: reverence for multiple traditions (swing, bebop, and freedom), irreverence for reverent stage attitude, a nose for concept. THIS particular concept (one he’s visited before in a wholly different way) was “Django Unchained.” Across our two nights, he didn’t repeat a single tune and, as he was fond of saying, he “dealt with” Reinhardt’s repertoire on tenor, soprano, and alto, without impeding its swing and flourish. Getting to speak to him after the second show, I politely asked him for an Earl Bostic tribute in the future, a request he unsurprisingly ducked. I still hold out hope.

Fats

FATS DOMINO AND THE BIRTH OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL (PBS) – 8.8 – Hard to imagine this warm, sweet, smiling man starting a riot, but ain’t that America? This 54-minute documentary (maybe an hour too short) does a nice job of telling the story of one of the few founding fathers who’s still with us, in the process reminding us to give a man props while he’s living. Some great rare footage, sharp detail from the New Orleans that cradled him, and narration by the man destined to be Morgan Freeman’s heir, Clarke Peters. Watch the film here: http://player.pbs.org/viralplayer/2365676531

720x405-zReplacements_Couch-Alternate-1985_Credit-Deborah-Feingold

Photo above by Deborah Feingold, from the Rolling Stone article linked within the blurb below.

Bob Mehr: TROUBLE BOYS–THE TRUE STORY OF THE REPLACEMENTS – 9 – Mehr’s excellent research provides the only account we’re ever gonna need of the ‘Mats. He isn’t a stylist, but he stays out of the way of his story, and offers hair-raising tales and heart-breaking revelations even the hardcore fan may not ever have encountered. AND: he is fair. Mehr also caused me to wonder what kind of music is being made by today’s kids who are coming out of homes like the one the Stinsons survived. Read an excerpt about their magnificent/disastrous SNL appearance here.

The Replacements: DON’T TELL A SOUL – 8.7 – Just prior to this coming out, I scored a promo poster and put it on my bedroom door (bachelor days); after I heard it, I wrote under the title “…but this album SUCKS!” Held that position until after I was forced to put it in its proper context last week by Mehr’s book (and Mehr does not quite smile upon it himself). I now find it not just moving, but a kind of a quiet triumph in the face of simultaneous disasters. It helps to listen to it without expecting it to be the band’s previous three albums, which, at the time, I could not help doing. Note: if you get the expanded version, you can program it to be a more kick-ass and crazy album, should you desire that. They still had it in ’em.

Mark Turner: LATHE OF HEAVEN – 9 – One of those records the title of which fits perfectly. Turner might be the one jazz tenor saxophonist the beginner who knows all the giants’ names most needs to check out–he’s inventive and subtle, much like what I’d imagine a “free” Lester Young to sound like. However, trumpeter Avishai Cohen and drummer Marcus Gilmore dang near steal the record. From Chuang Tzu misinterpreted beautifully by Ursula K. Le Guin: “To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven.”

Good To My Earhole, February 14-24: “Don’t You Hate It When….”

Highlights of my last ten days’ worth of listenin’, rated on an analytically shaky 10-point scale. Doin’ the diggin’ so you don’t haveta….

Various Artists: BOSNIA–ECHOES FROM AN ENDANGERED WORLD – 10 – Don’t you hate it when you buy a world music album highlighting a country that you think has pretty homogeneous traditional music, then you’re forced to eat a LOT of crow? Especially when you’re confronted with amazing vocalized ritual repetition that would make Roscoe Mitchell pull NONAAH from circulation?

Booker Irvin: THE TEX BOOK – 9 – Don’t you hate it when you think your favorite living jazz musician (see above) is unfairly characterized as less than subtle, then a record by your favorite deceased (and rowdily subtle) Texas tenor forces you to eat a little crow?

De Nazaten and James Carter: FOR NOW – 8.7 – Don’t you hate it when you think dark thoughts about your favorite living jazzman’s imagination, and you discover he’s teamed up on the sly with a strange Netherlands world-jazz outfit that, on its website, brags of being “[p]urveyors of Bastard music”? And poses for the cover photo with a sweet ol’ lady?

River City Tan Lines: ALL THE 7 INCHES PLUS 2 MORE – 9 – Don’t you hate it when you love totally raving Memphis rock and roll and you realize you totally missed out on a great band 10 years ago, when you thought you were totally paying attention, and were visiting twice a year?

I BELIEVE I’M GONNA MAKE IT–THE BEST OF JOE TEX – 9.8 – Don’t you hate it when a reissue label has a chance to assemble an A+ compilation on the world’s most underrated soul singer of the classic era, and they forget songs like “You Said a Bad Word,” “Heep See, Few Know,” “If Sugar Was Sweet As You,” “Bad Feet,” and “We Can’t Sit Down” (I could go on, and more would fit onto this CD)?

Good to My Earhole, January 30-February 4: Life’s Too Short

HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS WEEK’S LISTENING, RANKED ON A 10-POINT SCALE TO WHICH ‪#‎GreilMarcus‬ MIGHT OBJECT IF HE LISTENED TO JAZZ:

HAPPY #MARDIGRAS SEASON, MUSIC LOVERS!

A message from #ProfessorLonghair–watch those fingers when they hit the keys!

Now–on to the featured selections:

Rahsaan Roland Kirk/THE INFLATED TEAR – 8.8 – The album title refers to his tragic childhood sight-loss. The tunes might be today’s soundtrack–the man could always speak clearly and directly, without words.

Jason Moran/BLACK STARS – 10 – Perfect ‪#‎BlackHistoryMonth‬ entry: best jazz album issued this millennium on a major label (did I stutter?), what with Byardesque young turk Moran spreading modes of joy via sprightly keyboard runs and then-78-year-old-now-passed-on Sam Rivers running hot and lyrical by his side on tenor, soprano, and flute (and even piano). Sam, you are missed on this turf. Jason…you’re due.

Odean Pope/ODEAN’S LIST – 9 – Many years have passed since I last heard Philly’s answer to Chicago’s Von Freeman (in the “eccentric soul” tenor sax sweepstakes). Careless on my part. 71 at the time, he surrounded himself on this session with some relatively young studs (Stafford, Watts, Blanding–and a guy named ‪#‎JamesCarter‬ on three rowdy tracks) and knocked out robust takes on nine originals and a standard. Each record like this makes me feel more guilty about my laziness in keeping up with the old guard–jazz is a different elder’s game, and records like this are great motivation for waking up tomorrow with a mission.

Benny Spellman/FORTUNE TELLER – 8.3 – Bought it knowing who’d be on the sessions, and guessing more joy awaited beyond “Fortune Teller” and “Lipstick Traces.” For the benighted, Spellman’s the deep voice who intones the title line of Ernie K-Doe’s “Mother-In-Law.” There’s some filler, but there’s also “Life is Too Short” (Oaktown, can you hear him?), “The Word Game” (doesn’t QUITE beat “The Name Game”), and “10-4 Calling All Cars” (a weird song to sing from the heart of ‪#‎NOLA‬).

Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys/LET’S PLAY, BOYS – 9 – Junior Barnard and Tommy Duncan missing, dumb title, haven’t we heard enough ’40s swing transcriptions? NO. The band’s sprightlier than on the Tiffanys (I had difficulty typing that), and with three Wills brothers in tow and a Shamblin/Moore/Remington attack on electrified strings, it’s just marginally different enough for the Western swing fan to HAVE TO order it from the Oklahoma Historical Society. Plus, the eternally underrated “LX” Breshears on swinging trumpet.

CAVEAT EMPTOR!

DUD ALERT (5.0 at best): Robbie Fulks & The Mekons’ JURA and The I Don’t Cares’ (Paul Westerberg w/Juliana Hatfield in very intermittent geisha mode) WILD (make that MILD) STAB (exactly what it is).