Best Friends’ Day (June 8th, 2018, Columbia, MO)

Today is National Best Friends Day, and we’re having one of my very best friends over tonight, so the day’s been spent cooking and getting the house ready for his arrival. He’s a former student of mine, and few days after his 21st birthday (he’s currently 43), he showed up on my doorstep with a 12-pack to share and we listened to George Jones on the front porch for hours. Tonight the main focus is eating (Nicole’s killer Thai chicken), drinking [local microbrewery Logboat’s killer (a touch light, a touch sweet, 6.6 ABV) porter, Dark Matter], and watching the NBA Finals (simply to appreciate a couple different kinds of GOATs), but I know I’ll play him the recently-surfaced Gary Stewart demos, and maybe, since he’s a metal fan, the new Zeal & Ardor album, Stranger Fruit. I loved the last one (Devil is Fine); this one’s a bit more extreme, and conventional, but it still features the blues traces and chant-powered dynamics that originally attracted me. A sample:

While we were preparing for Regan’s arrival, I tried to convert my very best friend (Nicole) more fully to the album I can’t quit mentioning, Tracey Thorn’s Record. I think I succeeded (she adores the song “Sister”), but in listening to it myself for about the 12th time, I realized not only how deeply hooked I am by her rich voice, but also that this album man (I think it’s because I am also a book man) has three favorite singles this year, and they are all Tracey’s, from this album: “Guitar,” “Dancefloor,” and, yes, Nicole’s favorite, too (it’s already a great National Best Friends Day):

I can’t praise those songs enough.

Also, I slapped on Sidi Touré’s great new desert blues album, Toubalbero, which features some of the most varied and most driving guitar ever out of a mess of records that are about guitar (also: kora and balophon). Dig:

Right now, as the Thai chicken’s grillin’, some equally hot and somewhat obscure Latin jazz. Feel free to ride it into your own weekend.

I Got Hitt (February 7th, 2018, Columbia, Missouri)

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’ve been divesting myself of non-essential CDs. I finally reached the end of my task, and brought the fourth and final box in for trade yesterday, to the patient folks at Columbia’s very essential Hitt Records. Taylor and Kyle, the store’s heart and soul (I am not sure which is which–kinda like Mick and Keith in that regard), are patient, knowledgeable, funny, and extremely enthusiastic. Taylor, two of whose siblings I’ve had the pleasure to teach, is one of several “Swiss Army Knife people” in the Ragtag Cinema complex; I knew him first as a local musician, but when I think of him I think of Brazilian music, something we share a passion for. Kyle is remarkably kind and thoughtful–not that Taylor isn’t–and for some reason reminds me of what Gram Parsons must have been like (without the substance abuse issue): lanky, Southern, and laid-back. They are the kind of people you want to meet when you enter a record store.

As usual, they were rockin’ a great record when I showed up with that last box. I had intended to, um, dump and run (parking in Columbia sux), but…this record began kicking my ass when I opened the door to enter, then just kept kicking it, then starting moving it, then the fever spread into the rest of my body, and my mind. What is this beast? It is Sabu Martinez’s Sabu’s Jazz Espagnole.

“Is that for sale?” I asked, pointing to the album’s cover, which they had on display.

“It’s yours,” Taylor grinned (you can grin a declarative sentence).

You see how they operate! Click the link above, and you’ll also see how I was rendered so vulnerable to his salesmanship. Jazz Espagnole is one of the best Latin jazz recordings I’ve ever heard, primarily because the balance between the two elements is so precise, and because the playing is so hot: Sabu, of course, making the congas holler and moan, and his alto saxophonist Bobby Porcelli lacing most tracks with fiery figures. Each side opens and closes with a brash Martinez flurry; side A’s dominated by originals, side B by expert be- and hard bop covers (a “Woody ‘n’ You” that Dizzy would laud, a “Nica’s Dream” moodier than Horace Silver’s own). I’ve played the thing thrice since I exited Hitt with it.

I also picked up a vinyl copy of Eddie Palmieri’s classic Molasses, and Taylor further taunted me by showing me a slab he’d picked up for a dollar: a live Harlem River Drive album, recorded at Sing Sing! This time I fooled him by being to dumbstruck to ask if it were for sale!

Please visit Hitt if you’re in Columbia, Missouri. You will leave with a record.

Short-shrift Division:

Roy Eldridge: Little Jazz, Let Me Off Uptown, and Little Jazz: The Best of The Verve Years