Hoon’s Tunes & Muso Faves: 2014 – World (Outside of Africa)

Welcome back.

(My convention over the years is to classify North African music in the world category.)
Hassan Hakmoun – Unity
Hassan Hakmoun surprised me, a long time enthusiast of his rolling Moroccan Gnawa music with this electrifying comeback recording. It’s his best record.Review

Fatima Al Qadiri – Asiatisch
Roberto Rodriguez – Aguares-The Book of Angels Volume 23
Tom Ze – Vira Lata na Via La?ctea
Azam Ali, Loga Ramin Torkian (2013) – Lamentation of Swans; A Journey Towards Silence
David Krakauer’s Ancestral Groove – Checkpoint
Boulpik – Konpa Lakay
Gilberto Gil – Gilbertos Samba
Ana Tijoux – Vengo
Anouar Brahem – Souvenance

Bob Marley & The Wailers – Uprising Live

Hoon’s Tune & Muso Faves: 2014 – Blues & Soul

Simply: my favorite soul record of 2014 - stupendous!
Simply: my favorite soul record of 2014 – stupendous!

Irma Thomas – Full Time Woman (The Lost Cotillion Album)

The results, as soul lifting and impactful as anything she has has done, are an object lesson in the profound vacuousness of the music business — which tried to throw Thomas away well before her time. Luckily for Thomas, and for us, she’d rebound into the 1980s after quickly leaving Atlantic, first on Charly and then on Rounder. Nobody questions the Queen anymore. (Nick DeRisio,
writing for SomethingELSE. full review

Thomas wasn’t exactly thrilled that they’d been rediscovered. The 15 songs were recorded in four different cities, with various producers, as Atlantic experimented in an effort to revive her career.

“I was praying that those songs would never come out,” she says. “I didn’t think it was my best work. I had totally wiped that out of my mind — that’s how bad I felt about those recording sessions.”

She bought a copy of “The Lost Cotillion Album” anyway, took it home, and gave it a listen.

“The songs themselves aren’t that bad,” she concluded. “But had I been allowed to perform them the way that I wanted to, it would have been much better.

“They were hell-bent for leather to have me sound like somebody they wanted me to sound like. That’s where the loss came in.” Irma Thomas has mixed feelings about the rediscovery of her 1970s-era ‘Lost Cotillion Album’

Swamp Dogg – The White Man Made Me Do It

D’Angelo & The Vanguard – Black Messiah

Dr. John – Ske-Dat-De-Dat…The Spirit Of Satch
Henry Butler & Steven Bernstein – Viper’s Drag

Howlin’ Wolf The Complete RPM & Chess Singles As & Bs 1951-62

Albert Collins – Funky Blues Live 1973
Sonny Knight & the Lakers – I’m Still Here
Joe Louis Walker – Hornet’s Nest
King Legba and the Loas – King Legba and the Loas
Meshell Ndegeocello – Comet, Come To Me

The Sweet Inspirations – The Complete Atlantic Singles
VA – Chicago Blues Summit With J. B. Lenoir & Sunnyland Slim
Muddy Waters – The Complete Aristocrat & Chess Singles As & Bs 1947-62
va – Say Amen! Gospel Funk from Jewel Records

Hoon’s Muso Tunes – 2013 Top Ten Or So

John Tchicai – Tribal Ghost
Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell – Old Yellow Moon

Sylvia Versini Orchestra – With Mary Lou in My Heart
Ben Zabo – Ben Zabo
Mazzy Star – Seasons of Your Day
Lonnie Holley – Just Before Music
Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe
Lustmord – The Things That Were
Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady
The Band – Live at the Academy of Music
Abdullah Ibrahim – Mukashi Once Upon a Time

This changes daily, so: February 26th!

Jazz – A Few Favorites from 2013

Tribal Ghost
John Tchicai, RIP



Sylvia Versini Orchestra – With Mary Lou in My Heart  (iTunes)
Roswell Rudd – Trombone For Lovers (iTunes)

Jane Ira Bloom – Sixteen Sunsets 
Chick Corea – Further Explorations 
Dave Holland – Prism 
Stan Tracey Quintet – The Flying Pig  


Woody Shaw – The Complete Muse Sessions
Clifford Jordan – On Strata-east

Historically Important Live

Thelonious Monk – Paris 1969

John Coltrane – Afro Blue Impressions (1973)
Miles Davis – So What The Complete 1960 Amsterdam Concerts
Miles Davis – Live in Europe 1969 The Bootleg Series Vol. 2

Jazz – Avant-Garde

John Tchicai – Tribal Ghost

special mention:
Peter Brotzman – Long Story Short
William Parker – Wood Flute Songs

Barry Guy – New Orchestra – Mad Dogs (NotTwo Records)
Allison Miller‘s Boom Tic Boom – No Morphine, No Lilies
Tisziji Munoz – Divine Radiance Live
Ivo Perelman, Matthew Shipp, Michael Bisio, Whit Dickey – The Edge
Mary Halvorson Septet – Illusionary Sea
Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter Two
Myra Melford – Life Carries Me This Way
Satoko Fujii Ma-Do – Time Stands Still
Tarbaby – Ballad of Sam Langford f Oliver Lake
Wadada Leo Smith & TUMO – Occupy the World

comments: It occurs to me, thanks mostly to Harvey Pekar, that I am in my fifth decade as a jazz fanatic. The attrition of jazz masters has been slow and sure for decades. Looked at generationally, the be-bop masters have almost all expired. Last year my friend, singer Sathima Bea Benjamin died suddenly with her last great artistic summit right in front of her. Then: Stan Tracey! John Tchicai! I mention this because my listing here of favorite records, chosen from hundreds I encountered last year, is chock full of near old timers.

Corea, Brotzman, Wadada Leo Smith, were all born in 1941. Munoz, Holland, Guy, Perelman, Gonzalez, Fujii, Melford, were all born between 1946-1958. My generation.

In my muso’s world, the above are all well-known qualities. Each in their distinctive way is at the top of their artistic endeavor. If you are an older swinging moldy fogy than I am, and you’re going to buy but a single jazz record this year from last year: Roswell Rudd’s Trombone For Lovers. Feeling more ambitious but still–after so many years–not into raw experimentation, try Jane Ira Bloom’s meditative outing.

Everybody else check out the brilliant big little band record by Sylvia Versini. If you like pre-electric Gil Evans, it’s a no-brainer. Versini is really one to keep an ear on.

The Tchicai date is my favorite of the year. It’s free bop with the slippery rhythms Tchicai enjoyed rambling over.

Brotzman and Parker issued extravagant box sets drawn from their private archives. Each is essential without reservation for anybody who appreciates the gargantuan artistry and force of will at work in their decades-long quest.

Turning to the younger generation, the central reality of jazz today is that it is a global musical culture animating an intense syncreticism. This means wave after wave of fascinating music coming at the listener during our Age of Documentation.

If this year I favor the oldsters, it is probable that next year I won’t have the luxury. My attention is being pulled as it always has been pulled, toward the most daring improvised hunters and gatherers. Of the up-and-comers, none was better to me than the small ensemble post-bop offered by guitarist Mary Halvorsen and the second chapter let fly by saxophonist Matana Roberts. You wouldn’t be in a position to have an opinion on contemporary jazz if you haven’t dealt with those two records.

Rock & Pop / Non baby-boomer Division – A Few Favorites 2013

There's Hope
The return of Hope Sandoval

Rock & Pop – non baby-boomer division

Mazzy Star – Seasons of Your Day (iTunes)
Mikal Cronin – MCII
Neko Case – The Worse Things Get…
The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars
Brandy Clark – 12 Stories (iTunes)
Dawes – Stories Don’t End
Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park
My Bloody Valentine – m b v
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Single of the Year
The Flaming Lips – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Olivia Harris & Bruce Richardson – Up On the Roof (iTunes)

This year settles it for me, as far as rock and pop goes I’m no longer going to devote a heckuva lot of time to figuring out what the kids are into. I have to surrender to the verities that brought me here, songcraft, melodious harmonies, and slide guitars. Bingo: Mazzy Star hits a homerun with their triphopamericana comeback, a record soaked in tunefulness and slide and steel guitars. Mikal Cronin may have some appeal to the much younger generation but it seems to me the markers are all pegged to the late sixties, or, alternately Mott the Hoople and Queen. My Bloody Valentine strikes again and not much has changed–a very good thing except for having to read the adjective ‘gauzy’ too many times. Vampire Weekend surprised me. ‘Goth power pop’ sez I, crudely aiming my old fogey bag o’ categories; still, a terrific record.

Then there is home base, country and country rock and folk rock and nice singing and somgs set in the real world. The best singing is found on The Civil Wars, the saddest duo in the history of rock and roll. Neko Case is also dour on her best record so far. Kacey Musgraves isn’t sad, she’s mad. Brandy Clark sings like an angel. Dawes harken back to the folk rock band America, except they are much better songwriters, players, and there’s no top forty hippie radio anymore.

Just go plunk down $1.29 for Up On the Roof. You’ll be glad you did.

Rock & Pop / Old Timers’ Division – A Few Favorites – 2013

Harris - Crowell


Old Timers – Live

The Band – Live at the Academy of Music 1971 
Bill Payne‘s “Tracing Footsteps” with Dennis McNally 2013-05-17 (all shows)
Grateful Dead – Dave’s Picks Vol. 7 
Jimi Hendrix Experience – Miami Pop Festival (iTunes)

Bonus: best bootleg:
Graham Parker & The Rumour – The Stone Pony (Asbury Park, NJ) 2013-04-19

comment: Five unreleased tracks key The Band’s Academy of Music deluxe set. Fans get something more in that this set showcases a Bob Clearmountain mix the cornerstone live date Rock of Ages and provides a nicely saturated and visceral mix of the later set in discs 3 & 4. Every year brings more remastered Grateful Dead goodies from the prime 1968-1974 era. Hendrix is God.

Little Feat keyboardist Bill Payne has been touring as a solo act and has used the opportunity to tell about the history of Little Feat. He is a natural raconteur. I hope more dates pile up on archive.org. I had to pick one. All the ‘Tracing Footsteps’ dates supply a piece of the Little Feat & Bill Payne puzzle.

Old Timers – New

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell – Old Yellow Moon

Neil Finn & Paul Kelly – Goin’ Your Way
Dan Baird And Homemade Sin – Circus Life
Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture of You
Linda Thompson – Won’t Be Long Now
The Del Lords – Elvis Club

comment: The reunion of Harris and Crowell fulfills expectations: it’s transcendental. On the song Back When We Were Beautiful, Emmylou evokes Edith Piaf. Aussies Finn and Kelly acoustic power pop is cheery and grown-up. Both Dan Baird and The Del Lords appropriate the attack of Sticky Fingers era Rolling Stones and deliver the old school rock and roll goods. It’s especially explosive to have The Del Lords tossing grenades again. Linda Thompson’s comeback record is full of felicitous moments and heartfelt expression–and it seems to me to be her finest hour. Guy Clark is what Bob Dylan would be if contemporary Dylan were more observant, less self-satisfied, and, consistently true to a deep artistic vision.


The Clash – Sound System
The Beach Boys – 50th Anniversary Box Set

Revolutionary punk or reactionary power-pop. What floats your boat?


Experitronic – A Few Favorites – 2013

Experitronic is my catch-all terms for: electronica, experimental, modern classical, ambient, noise, soundscapes, drum & bass, techno, and did I mention experimental? It names the sonic space my own music making takes place in.

Experitronic new releases

Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe
Tim Hecker – Virgins
Darkside – Psychic
Alvin Curran – Shofar Rags
Bernie Krause – Particles of Dawn Soundscapes from the Great Animal Orchestra
Charles Cohen – The Middle Distance
Aidan Baker – Aneira (Bandcamp)
Lustmord – The Word As Power
Rebekah Heller – 100 Names (iTunes)
Steve Roach – Ultra Immersion Concert

Experitronic reissues

Lustmord – The Things That Were
The Hafler Trio – 4A Cure for Kenophobia Recordings 87-99 (outofline.de)
Muslimgauze – Tandoor Dog
Celer – Remixes 2005-2012 (Bandcamp)

Growing up in rural Louisiana and then later on a farm in Missouri, Julianna Barwick was a preacher’s daughter at a church whose organ got very little use. “We would always sing a cappella,” she explained in an interview a few years ago, “And instead of instruments we would clap or sing in rhythmic rounds.” A curious kid and a bit of a loner, Barwick showed a precocious fascination with the human voice. Her hobbies included harmonizing with random sounds, making up songs about whatever she was doing at the moment, and singing long, loud notes in hollowed-out spaces like parking garages and inside the trunk of a giant tree just to see what the echo would sound like. “It sounds kinda psycho, I know,” she admitted in our interview, but sometimes “I would sing to myself and get so lost in it that I would cry.”

Actually, it doesn’t sound that crazy; it’s very easy to become lost in the music that Barwick now makes as an adult. Over the span of her career, from her imaginative 2006 debut LPSanguine up through 2011’s dazzling breakthrough The Magic Place (the name is a nod to that aforementioned giant tree trunk, where she’d unwittingly discovered reverb), Barwick’s gradually refined a process that is at once inventive and incredibly simple. She sings short, reverb-drenched, often wordless vocal fragments into a loop station (though she made the loops on the painstakingly lo-fi Sanguine using just a guitar pedal) and layers them into luminous compositions that feel like the aural equivalent of an airplane ride through a cloud. Toweringly sublime yet invitingly human, her music has an uncanny power to transform whatever space it’s played in. It can make a cramped apartment feel like a high-ceilinged cathedral, or– when she plays in one– an actual cathedral feel like a gear-cluttered basement show. –Lindsay Zoladz, Pitchfork

comment, new releases: This year it turns out the top of the list elevates lots and lots of experiments gone very very right. Ms. Barwick uses her voice and Rebekah Heller uses a bassoon, but the end result is equally gripping. The most mainstream electronica here is Darkside’s Psychic, yet Nicholas Jaar and Dave Harrington seemingly render an 80’s soundtrack as if such a thing could be built today using the audio equivalent of Photoshop. It is splendid in its imagining what a mind meld between Derrick May and Pink Floyd and Giorgio Moroder might have sounded like.

Brian Lustmord’s journey with the human voice is unique in his output of grey scale ambient, and, it provides one of the best covers of the year. Aidan Baker is prolific; releasing eleven recordings this year. Likewise, Steve Roach, now on Bandcamp, released ten recordings. In any given year, if any two musical giants do so, it is highly probable I will note where the highest peaks are located at year-end. Curran, Cohen, and Krause are all older than I am and more power to aging explorers! Special thanks to Morphosis for bringing Cohen’s spare Buchla techno back into the light of day.

The reissues travel from Lustmord’s dark ambient, to The Hafler Trio’s UK techno, to Muslimgauze’s dependable Middle-eastern industrial, to Celer’s ambient scraping. Different strokes for different folks and each is delightful in, well, unique and different ways.

World – A Few Favorites 2013

Be open minded, be experimental, don’t fear…whatever you want to do, do it! – Dr. Jyotsna Srikanth

World new records

Jyotsna Srikanth – Call of Bangalore
va – Daora – Underground Sounds of Urban Brasil (Experimedia)
Nana Vasconcelos – 4 Elementos
Nitin Sawhney – OneZero [Past, Present, Future Unplugged]
Steve Shehan – Hang With You

World reissues

King Tubby – Hometown Hi-Fi Dubplate Specials 1975-1979 (ForcedExposure)
va – Goush Bedey Funk, Psychedelia Iranian Pre-Revolution Generation
va – Hassaniya Music from the Western Sahara and Mauritania (Amazon)

comment: Jyotsna Srikanth’s record features her soaring Carnatic violin in a small group setting. After hearing her thrilling record, I dug around, especially on Youtube, and learned she is also an innovative auteur of musical settings. Nana and Nitin are iconic artists to me and so superb new records are easy to highlight. Whereas the enigmatic Franco-American Shehan, he–who knows 14 languages and plays 500 instruments, impressed with his warm virtuosity on hang-drum. Doara provides a fun ride through contemporary Brazilian urban music; its take-away is that I hope psychedelic hip-hop finds its way north.

Hometown Hi-Fi Dubplate Specials is the legendary King Tubby’s best compilation, so it is also essential and a cornerstone in any collection of reggae. Goush Bedey Funk begs the question of how Iranian guitarists obtained guitar pedals in the seventies. Hassa?ni?ya Music is trance music fit for closing ones eyes and breathing into the feet while lying comfortably.

Africa – A Few Favorites – 2013

Africa – new records

Ben Zabo – Ben Zabo
Abdullah Ibrahim – Mukashi Once Upon a Time

Mokoomba – Rising Tide
va – Red Hot + Fela (iTunes)
Bombino – Nomad
Owiny Sigoma Band – Power Punch


Africa – Reissues

va – Angola Soundtrack 2 Hypnosis, Distorsions & Other Sonic Innovations 1969 -1978

William Onyeabor – World Psychedelic Classics Vol. 5 Who is William Onyeabor
Sathima Bea Benjamin – African Songbird
Le Grand Kalle – His Life, His Music
Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo De Cotonous – The Skeletal Essences of Afro Funk 1969-1980 Vol. 3

comment, new records: It was a very good year for new music from Africa, a year that pops out because Ben Zabo and Makoomba and Owiny Sigoma Band front for about a dozen releases that provided similar jaw-dropping listening experiences. Ben Zabo gets the nod to share the top spot because of the heavy dose of afrobeat he brings to his Malian vibe. Zabo provided this year’s ‘Zani Daibate’ moment. Not only because he’s a friend and my favorite musician does Dr. Ibrahim top my estimation. He makes elegiac records and Mukashi was released the year his beloved wife Sathima suddenly passed away. But, there’s more: turning eighty this year, Ibrahim seems to me to be working at a high level of spiritual intention with Mukashi–so the fine date featuring flute, clarinet and two cellos struck me as exceptional even by the artist’s high standards.

comment, reissues: The flood of house shaking classic African music continues apace. Angola Soundtrack 2 Angola Soundtrack 2 Hypnosis, Distorsions & Other Sonic Innovations was crazy-good, and number one for me, and it possessed the best title too! The most important record date of the late Sathima Bea Benjamin, the greatest jazz singer Africa has produced so far, came back into the light. Known qualities flesh out the top of my list, yet I could have thrown darts at the best of the rest to decide.

Blues & Soul – A Few Favorites 2013

Blues & Soul – New Orleans Division

Los Po Boy Citos – Hasta

Allen Toussaint – Songbook 
Trombone Shorty – Say That to Say This 
Walter Wolfman Washington & The Roadmasters – Howlin’ Live at dba New Orleans Davell Crawford – My Gift to You 

comment: Los Po Boy Citos takes the crown with their wide-eared synthesis of, hold on, boogaloo, salsa, surf, second line, funk, NOLA indian music, blues, and soul.


Albert King – Born Under a Bad Sign 
Chocolate Milk – Chocolate Milk 
James Booker – Classified 
Messengers Incorporated ?- Soulful Proclamation  
Womack & Womack – Conscience 

comment: King’s cornerstone blues date greatly benefits from remastering; the Chocolate Milk set fills a large gap in their digital discography; Conscience is one of my all time favorites; and Soulful Proclamation was the rarity that rose to the top of my estimation.


Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady 
Lonnie Holley – Just Before Music 
The Liberators – Power Struggle 
Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators – Tortured Soul 
Blind Boys of Alabama – I’ll Find a Way 

comment: a tie at the top! Holley, better known as folk sculptor, is compelling and unique, and he is so in the entire sweep of musical artistry! See Lonnie Holley: The Insider’s Outsider, New York Times; Self-Made Man NPR; Ms. Monae is deservedly both a cutting edge artist and superstar; the Blind Boys celebrate their 70th anniversary this year.

Magic Sam

Magic Sam – Live At The Avant Garde (Amazon)
Eric Bibb – Jericho Road 
Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite – Get Up!  
Gwyn Ashton – Fistful Of Blues  
Tamara Peterson w. Lucky Peterson Band – Whatever You Say (Amazon)
Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup – Sunny Road (Amazon)
The Slide Brothers – Robert Randolph Presents The Slide Brothers 

comment: Magic Sam, departed to St. Peter’s houseband in 1969, is captured in a trio format in 1968. It’s no knock on his contemporaries to note that they just do not make Chicago blues records like his or that of Crudup anymore. Ashton is a terrific electric slide player from the UK, and The Slide Brothers feature three pedal steel players, two stand up and play and one sits down. 




It’s Mostly All About Documentation

Two thirds of the live recordings of Wilco, available at their online store.

When the three volumes of Russell Sanjek’s American Popular Music and Its Business appeared in 1988, I waited for the interlibrary loan came through–I was in Vermont at the time–and then I was set for the task. I skimmed huge chunks of it and bore down on the last two volume, covering the modern music business.

When done, a single reflection dominated by sense of their history: it was almost a complete history but, strangely, their account so underplayed the development of the modern distribution system that it fell down just because of that single deficit. The major label distribution system allowed the labels to sell hundreds of thousands of units on Tuesday release days. It allowed for a deep integration with the ordering systems of large retailers. That system had its heyday from around 1970-2005, and it paralleled the rise of the chain record store. (My last stint in the music business was spent as a manager for a chain between 1995-2000.) By the end of the 2011, with the implosion of Borders Books and Music, the multi-outlet music specialist had instantly become a memory.

Because the giant pipelines and the attending policies of the major label system so favored chain outlets, also by the end of the first decade of the 21st century, most of the independent record stores in the U.S. had gone out of business.

The age of distribution lasted thirty-five years. In 1988, when Sanjek’s epic three volume history was published, the biggest issue in the music business was consolidation, retail price wars, MTV, and, the extraordinary costs involved in rolling the dice in hopes of positioning an artist to sell big numbers and make a profit. The business at the time was also a plantation and anybody who paid close attention to the predicament of music artists understood that the rise of the modern distribution system went hand in hand with all the dishonorable tactics record labels used to manage risk by hiding sales, cooking books, and shifting revenues from the artist’s side of the ledge to their own.

Here in Cleveland, the music departments at Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, are laughable ghosts of the old chain departments with their 15,000-50,000+ titles. Incidentally, Cleveland is home to roughly a dozen independent record stores, and two very small chains. The latter specialize in used entertainment media. 

I buy my music as digital downloads from iTunes, Amazon and eMusic. Every now and then, less than ten times a year, I buy a compact disc. And, I’m resourceful about checking out streams and downloads for the purpose of auditioning music. The internet cleary constitutes the biggest free record store ever, and this was not a revolution Russell Sanjek could have anticipated.

What accounts for the volume of new music that grows every year? Think about this awesome and awesomely weird fact.

Wilco recording music in the comfort of their living room.

The Age of Documentation 2005 – ongoing

Because of the internet, distribution has been democratized. The incentive to primarily invest in pushing a single release every year has collapsed outside what’s left of the major label record business. The situation of independent labels (I would assume) is mostly precarious; stuck as they are between the challenging business and risk models of the big labels and the minimalist experiments of the do-it-yourself market space.

But, I’m guessing, really. The one feature of the 21st century music business I’m sure about is that the age of distribution has morphed into the Age of Documentation. Because the costs involved in being prolific have shrunk so rapidly and the barriers to meeting low demand are so low at the low end (!) it makes sense that, for example, Wilco would release thirty live records over the several years.

Last year, among the musical artists I am committed to, and trying to track, and acquire,
saxophonist Ken Vandermaark released at least five records, jazz icon Anthony Braxton released over the last two years six records, punk popsters The Flaming Lips released at least six records, ambient soundscaper Steve Roach released at least nine records, experimental guitarist and dronemeister Aidan Baker released at least six records.

What could be the business model underlying artists just pushing, usually on their own, all this music into the market space? I have no idea. Except, I can do the kind of math that suggest that ten records selling 500 units is equal to one record selling 5,000 units. 

Over the next month or so I will be reviewing my own favorite recordings of 2013. Wilco is a great American band. What I’ve heard of their Roadcase Series of concert recordings is stellar. There are 29 Roadcases to date! Hurray for documentation. 

Wilco – Roadcase #23 (Austin, TX) – 2013-10-11  is super fine. [Get it: Here] Wilco’s web site implements most of the modern “post-bricks-and-mortar” merchandising angles. This observer is reminded of the important and groundbreaking part The Grateful Dead played in all this. Defunct for over twenty years, The Grateful Dead released something like half a dozen archival records last year!

2012 Jazz I Deep Dove With


Wadada Leo Smith – Ten Freedom Summers
Wadada Leo Smith & Louis Moholo-Moholo – Ancestors

Ravi Coltrane – Spirit Fiction
Sam Rivers – Reunion Live in New York 2007
Irene Schweizer – To Whom It May Concern – Piano Solo Tonhalle Zürich
William Parker – Centering Unreleased Early Recordings 1976-1987
Jason Robinson – Tiresian Symmetry
Marilyn Crispell – Play Braxton
Fred Ho & Quincy Saul – The Music Of Cal Massey
Aki Takase – New Blues
Andrew Lamb – Rhapsody in Black
Bill Evans – Live At Art D’Lugoff’s
The Group f. Billy Bang – Live 1987
Branford Marsalis – Four MFs Playin’ Tunes [Bonus Track]
Dave Douglas – Be Still
Han Bennink Trio – Bennink & Co.
Chris Vasi – Monk’s Playground
Jessica Williams – Songs of the Earth
Orrin Evans – Flip the Script
Eric Reed – The Baddest Monk
Eric Revis – Parallax
The Cookers – Believe

Improv is where I felt the pinch of the dilation of my leisure time last year. Yet, I have to face the cold fact brought to the surface by boxing up the giant collection of jazz vinyl that listening, especially deep listening, is becoming a particularly zen-like encounter with sound spun in the precise moment. In other words, the/my fool’s game is in relief: I won’t be listening to many of the, for example, sixty or so Dexter Gordon records ever again.

I haven’t really dealt with Wadada Leo Smith and William Parker from last year; their contribution totals eleven plus hours and dealing with it means consorting with the giants for some multiple of those hours. I’m sure to make the time, and urge you to do so, too.

2012 Pop I Drove Around To


Zeus – Busting Visions
Tame Impala – Lonerism
Cat Power – Sun
Ariel Pink – Mature Themes
David Hidalgo, Mato Nanji, Luther Dickinson – 3 Skulls And The Truth
Julia Holter – Ekstasis
Brendan Benson – What Kind of World
J.D. Souther – Midnight In Tokyo (Live)
The Belle Game – Ritual Tradition Habit
Rickie Lee Jones – The Devil You Know
Beach House – Bloom
Jamey Johnson – Living For A Song — A Tribute To Hank Cochran
Spiritualized – Sweet Heart Sweet Light
Elizabeth Cook – Gospel Plow EP
Alejandro Escovedo – Big Station
Aimee Mann – Charmer
American Aquarium – Burn. Flicker. Die
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – The Lion The Beast The Beat
Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel
Norah Jones – Covers
Grateful Dead – Winterland 1971

Running through the Village Voice’s Pazz and Jopp poll for last year was enlightening to a modest extent. 1,361 records were voted on, and the end of the poll is more interesting to me than its–‘averaging’–top flight. My own limited exploration was not very exploratory because I concentrated on guilty pleasures, known qualities, and, a good batch of releases from old timers I always check out; such as tops-in-my-flight new records from J.D. Souther, Ricki lee Jones, Alejandro Escovedo, Aimee Mann, and prime era, (between 1966-1976) Grateful Dead at Winterland at the end of 1971.

Speaking of guilty pleasures, I am pleasantly taken back by most competent revivals of old fashioned psychedelic hippy music. So, even from my grizzled perspective I feel I get the appeal of Tame Impala–although Ariel Pink, Zeus and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals strike me as superior. As for virtuosity, Jamey Johnson remembers Hank Cochran, a titan of cowpoke balladry and rock and roll on a record every bit as soulful and heartfelt as, well, Frank Ocean.

2012 World Music I Sank My Ears Into

Egberto Gismonti

Egberto Gismonti & Magico – Carta De Amor
Zoufris Maracas – Prison Dorée
Mahsa Vahdat & Mighty Sam McClain – A Deeper Tone of Longing Love Duets Across Civilizations
Getatchew Mekuria & The Ex & Friends – Y’Anbessaw Tezeta
Keith Hudson – Rasta Communication
Abdallah Oumbadougou – Zozodinga
Jerry Gonzalez & Miguel Blanco – Music for Big Band
va – Once Upon a Time in Senegal – The Birth of Mbalax 1979 – 1981
Lee Perry & The Sufferers – The Sound Doctor Black Ark Singles and Dub Plates 1972-1978
Amadou Diagne – Introducing Amadou Diagne
Guillaume Perret & The Electric Epic – Guillaume Perret & The Electric Epic
Yabby You – Deeper Roots Dub Plates and Rarities 1976-1978
MetaL MetaL – s/t
The Funkees – Dancing Time
Fanga & Maalem Abdallah Guinea – Fangnawa Experience
Eric Bibb & Habib Koité – Brothers in Bamako
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars – Radio Salone
Sharif Sehnaoui – Old and New Acoustics
Zani Diabate & Les Heritiers – Tientalaw
Koo Nimo – Highlife Roots Revival
Caetano Veloso – Abraçaço
Rabih Abou-Khalil – Hungry People

2012 Experitronica I Dug


“Experitronica” I enjoyed in 2012
Swans – The Seer
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
Aidan Baker & Leah Buckareff – Breathing Heavy Heavy Breathing
Daphni – Jiaolong
B.J. Cole – Transparent Music 2
B.J. Cole & Icebreaker – Apollo
1982 & BJ Cole – 1982 + BJ Cole
Alio Die – Deconsecrated And Pure
Shubna Mudgal, Urusla Rucker & Business Class Refugees – No Stranger Here
The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation – Egor
Steve Roach – Back To Life
Porter Ricks – Biokinetics
Anne Chris Bakker – Weerzien
Adham Shaikh – Refractions Volume 1
Bill Laswell – Means Of Deliverance

Experimental pedal steel guitarist B.J. Cole shocked me by releasing three records of silvery ambient music keyed by his virtuosity and vision. Aidan Baker remained prolific. Godspeed You! ended a hiatus with an advanced update of their communal sonic experimentation. And, Michael Gira and Swans just raged and raved and raga’d on,


A Weird, Liberating, Year

Wadada Leo Smith & Louis Moholo-Moholo

Back when I was living the muso’s dream, twenty-five years ago, I would take pride in delivering to my customers the yearly compilation of my favorite recordings. At the time I was mightily advantaged by my having one foot in the aisle of a record store I managed, and the other foot under the desk of two different radio broadcasting booths. The record and distribution companies loved me inasmuch as they showered me in free recordings. I was set-up nicely and could support the delusion of being up-to-date and in-touch with the sounds of the time, with annualized cornucopia.

Now long past this set-up and my music business tenure, still, given the wild west aspect of the internet and my own prizing of my leisure time, over the past decade or so I managed to be an excellent paying customer of iTunes and eMusic, and, also a mp3 blog leecher. So, I also was able to support year in and year out a contemporary version of the olden delusion. Until this past year when a confluence of grown-up pressures, including having to box and crate the entire collection of vinyl and compact discs in the aftermath of a basement flood, stripped me of substantial chunks of self-indulgently deployed leisure time. This includes disruption of my soundwise creative endeavors–and so all my delusions came to be adjusted.

These pressures are being handled, and nowadays I’m profoundly less inclined to return to the old delusion and time sink.

Still, there was a soundtrack to all this. I remain lucky to be devoted and it also is still the case I listen to more music than 99% of the peeps in the world. (My muso ranking no doubt has collapsed.) But, the consequence of a year of living differently is I am much more keen on recognizing that the guilty pleasures, so contracted, do not result in any claim other than, in the annualized sense, this is what I liked, and this is what I liked irrespective of all contemporary trends and this is what I liked stripped of most pretentions and robbed now of any motivation to put these favorites in a secure, critical context.