Monday, April 20, 2015

Percy Sledge, 1940-2015


Tears come easily for me.  Music often acts as the trigger, and classic R&B voices get me almost every time.  I just cued up Percy Sledge’s out-of-print 1994 album Blue Night and was immediately overcome by emotion.  Listen for yourself.  Damn.  Sledge died last week.


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I reviewed Lil Boosie’s wack concert at the Midland.

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I reviewed a solid concert by Sixx:A.M. and Apocalyptica.

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I reviewed Matt Kane & the Kansas City Generations Sextet’s Acknowledgement at Plastic Sax.

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I didn’t know about Tony Bennett’s secret weapon until I first saw Ralph Sharon perform with the vocalist in the 1990s.  Sharon died on March 31.

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Johnny Kemp has died.

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After years of conjecture, a collaboration between Tech N9ne and Eminem has been released.

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Todd Clouser’s Chant is RIYL: Allen Ginsberg, beatniks, John Trudell.  Clouser created a video for “You the Brave.”

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Lila Downs’ Balas y Chocolate is a lot of fun.  RIYL: Vicente Fernández, parties, Kinky. 

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Tyler, the Creator’’s Cherry Bomb is much better than I anticipated.  And yes, “Smuckers” is the hip-hop event of the year.

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Kenny Lattimore’s Anatomy of a Love Song is RIYL: Luther Vandross, classic R&B, Marvin Gaye.  Here’s the video for “Love Me Back.”

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The-Dream’s silky Crown is RIYL: Michael Jackson, radio playlists, Future.

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Beethoven, Period, a collaboration between Matt Haimovitz and Christopher O’Riley, is my default work soundtrack.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Concert Review: Max Raabe und Palast Orchester at Helzberg Hall


Curious to discover what qualities allow a German big band to attain enough popularity to justify a tour of American concert halls, I bought a half-price ticket to see last week’s Kansas City debut of Max Raabe und Palast Orchester at Helzberg Hall.

I was entertained.

The audience of about 1,000 was more varied than the typical big band crowd.  A prominent young burlesque dancer was seated next to me while the oldtimers behind me reminisced about Glenn Miller prior to the concert.

The broad appeal of Raabe’s ensemble was immediately apparent.  The vocalist and the members of his 12-piece band are terrific showmen.  Raabe is a droll comedian with an extraordinary voice. 

Almost every selection included at least one subtle gag while other numbers were played entirely for laughs.  Dramatic lighting aside, however, the band didn’t rely on any special effects.

With a repertoire of songs popular during the Weimar Republic, the band revived compositions by the likes of Harry James and Kurt Weill. 

Formerly a skeptic, I’m a believer.


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If forced to enter a talent contest, I'll revive Stan Freberg’s ”John and Marsha.” .  Freberg died last week.

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I reviewed a Dr. Dog concert last week.

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Sunday’s outing by Mark Dresser, Myra Melford and Matt Wilson astounded me.  My notes are posted at Plastic Sax.

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I contributed a Local Listen segment about Kangaroo Knife Fight to KCUR.

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Young Fathers’ White Men Are Black Men Too is a grower.  After almost writing the album off as an assortment of unfinished demos, it finally connected with me.  Here’s the video for ”Shame”.

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About a third of Brian Wilson’s No Pier Pressure is solid. 

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Eliane Elias’ Made In Brazil is just as glossy, slick and overblown as its cover art suggests.  I like it in spite of myself.  RIYL: Dionne Warwick, MPB, Elis Regina.

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While all is not forgiven, David Sanborn continues to redeem himself.  Quartette Humaine. his 2013 collaboration with Bob James, was excellent.  And the new Time and the River is a fine funk/R&B/smooth jazz project. 

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Lage Lund’s guitar trio album Idlewild is deceptively deep.  RIYL: Emily Remler, subtle rebellion, Bill Frisell.

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I don’t understand why the cool kids are fascinated with Royal Thunder.  The band isn’t much different than the Pretty Reckless, a rock act that’s shunned by tastemakers.  That said, I also admire Crooked Doors.  RIYL: Buckcherry, “active rock”, Halestorm.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, April 06, 2015

Album Review: Jodeci- The Past, The Present, The Future


Several weeks after attending an embarrassingly inept concert featuring Guy, K-Ci & JoJo, El DeBarge and Doug E. Fresh at Municipal Auditorium, I cued up Jodeci’s comeback album with great trepidation. 

Against all odds, The Past, The Present, The Future is amazing.  The sex songs are sexy and the love songs are dreamy.  The new effort is clearly superior to the band’s 1991 debut album.

Instead of jeering when K-Ci and JoJo spoke about a forthcoming Jodeci reunion during their outing at Municipal Auditorium, I should have applauded.

Here’s a video for ”Every Moment”.


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Hearing David Lindley in a concert hall setting was a nice change of pace.  I reviewed his concert at Johnson County Community College.

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I contributed a Local Listen segment about Rex Hobart and the Misery Boys to KCUR’s Up To Date.

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GlassField’s The Answer’s In the Pit of Your Stomach is RIYL: Fleet Foxes, Missouri indie-folk, Iron & Wine.

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Stik Figa and Leonard Dstroy have a video for ”More Or Less”.

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Loyal readers of There Stands the Glass will recall that I fell head over heels for José James’ No Beginning No End.  The smooth, innovative project was my fifth favorite album of 2013.  James’ followup album was a funky mess.  Aside from the rendition of “Strange Fruit” that closes the recording, the new Yesterday I Had the Blues: The Music of Billie is as straightforward as a Tony Bennett album.  I can’t imagine anyone not liking it.  Yet I doubt I’ll ever love it.

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I’m worried for myself.  I was repeatedly moved to the brink of tears as I listened to Valentina Lisitsa’s solo piano album Plays Philip Glass

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Donny McCaslin’s fascinating electro-jazz album Fast Future is RIYL: the Pat Metheny Group, 2015, Nile Rodgers.

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Hilary Hahn’s new Mozart set is nice.

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After viewing their ”What’s In my Bag” segment, I want to hang out with the Decemberists.

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Danya Stephens’ Reminiscent is uneventful.  RIYL: Walter Smith III, Blue Note blowing sessions, Ravi Coltrane.

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I can’t stand Ben Goldberg’s Orphic Machine, but I suspect a few There Stands the Glass readers will adore the hybrid of jazz and art-rock.  RIYL: Bjork, intellectuals, Becca Stevens.  Here’s an EPK.

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Pending the availability of cheap flights, I might attend the Free Press Summer Festival in Houston.  The lineup that includes R. Kelly, Slim Thug, Pentagram, Yung Lean, Mastodon, Z-Ro, Chance the Rapper, Sturgill Simpson, Lecrae, Charles Bradley, Bun-B, Diarrhea Planet, Ilovemakonnen and Paul Wall is calling my name.

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I didn’t have high expectations for Kaleo’s set at the Tank Room last Thursday but I didn’t expect generic blues-rock from the Icelandic band.  It’s not the worst show I’ve seen in 2015, but it’s certainly among the most disappointing.

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As I was appreciating the Norwegian tubist Daniel Herskedal’s excellent Slow Eastbound Train, a resident jazz-hater suggested that he admired the sound and asked “what kind of music is this?”  I didn’t have a good answer.  I suppose it’s contemporary Nordic classical music.

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I freely admit that Sufjan Stevens’s Carrie & Lowell is quite good.  RIYL: Iron & Wine, hushed indie folk, Alexi Murdoch.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Album Review: Action Bronson- Mr. Wonderful


You have to love a guy who can laugh at himself.  That’s precisely what Action Bronson does throughout the hilarious Mr. Wonderful.

The people who accuse Bronson of swagger jacking Ghostface Killah’s flow are missing the point.  Bronson’s raps are in the spirit to hip-hop humorists Kool Keith, the Beastie Boys and Mac Lethal.

Bronson is the new Biz Markie.

Amusing tracks like ”Baby Blue”, ”Actin’ Crazy” and ”Easy Rider” make Mr. Wonderful my party album of 2015.


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I reviewed a concert by Chris Tomlin, Tenth Avenue North and Rend Collective.

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My notes on a performance by the Lee Konitz and Dave Douglas Quintet have attracted quite a bit of attention.

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I contributed a Local Listen segment about Danielle Nicole (Schnebelen) to KCUR.

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Al Bunetta has died.  To say we didn’t care for each other would be an understatement.

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John Renbourn has died.

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Tech N9ne made a video for “Aw Yeah? (Intervention).”

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Stik Figa has released Stik Figa Is Not Quite Himself.

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Brandon Draper’s Night-Night Songs is RIYL: lullabies, Iron & Wine, nice guys.

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Rhodes Ahead Volume 2, the latest release from Marc Cary, makes me extremely happy.  RIYL: George Duke, instrumental funk, J Dilla.  Here’s ”Astral Flight 17”.

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Liturgy’s The Ark Work is either the best or the worst album of 2015.  RIYL: Thurston Moore, “serious” metal, Swans.

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Much of Duets: Re-Working the Catalogue is just as poorly conceived as the album’s title.  Even so, it’s nice to hear Van Morrison and Gregory Porter revive “The Eternal Kansas City.” 

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The self-titled EP by Mali’s Trio Da Kali is gorgeous, but it offers me little to sink my teeth into.

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There Stands the Glass reader Gary alerted me to a reissue of Owen Maerck’s Teenage Sex Therapist.  RIYL: Pere Ubu, rock eccentrics, Henry Kaiser.

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Although it features a couple musicians I really admire, much of Alex Sipiagin’s Balance 38-58 bored me.  RIYL: Tom Harrell, conservatories, Terell Stafford.

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It almost goes without saying that the Next Stop Soweto: Zulu Rock, Afro-Disco and Mbaqanga 1975-1985 compilation is ridiculously good.  (Via Big Steve.)

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Maybe you had to be there.  Steve Wilson’s Vanguard Sessions failed to move me.  RIYL: Charlie Parker, the Village Vanguard, Thelonious Monk.

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I’m enjoying the ECM Records radio channel at iTunes (I don’t know how to link to it). The stream includes a lot of amazing stuff- Lumen Drones and The Amazing Adventures of Simon Simon, anyone?- that I hadn’t heard.

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Minnesota Public Radio published an interesting piece about music critic Jon Bream and his record collection.

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I’m not a Deadhead, but I keep select tracks from early albums including American Beauty in regular rotation.  At its best, Freedom & Dreams, the collaboration between the North Mississippi Allstars and Anders Osborne, approximates that sound.

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Courtney Barnett's Sometimes I Sit & Think & Sometimes I Just Sit is almost as good as people say it is.  RIYL: Jim Carroll, talking-not-singing, Tonio K.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall From Kansas?


I’ve long felt like a provincial yahoo. 

I’m an expert on budget hotels in Amarillo but I’ve never traveled to Africa.  I’ve walked countless streets in small towns in central Kansas but I know only a couple hundred words of Spanish.

A visit to Carnegie Hall last week made me feel like less of a rube.  I’d never made it to the storied concert hall during a handful of previous visits to New York City.

An unamplified performance by my fellow Kansan Joyce DiDonato with the Philadelphia Orchestra in the Perspectives series she curates was sufficiently loud in my $40 balcony seat.  The program was dominated by material from DiDonato’s Stella di Napoli, my ninth favorite album of 2014.

A duet between DiDonato as Romeo and Laura Claycomb as Juliet during a selection from Vincenzo Bellini’s “I Capuleti e I Montecchi” is one of the most stimulating things I've witnessed.  My cousin Lawrence Brownlee was also impressive.

The New York Times reviewed the concert.


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An appearance by Charlie Wilson was no less memorable than shows I’ve witnessed by James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Isaac Hayes.  Here’s my review.

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I reviewed a concert by Maroon 5, Magic! and Rozzi Crane.

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I caught a performance by Noah Preminger’s quartet while in New York.

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I contributed a Local Listen segment on the New Riddim to KCUR.

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Earl Sweatshirt’s new I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside… initially strikes me as a rehashed version of his amazing Doris”Grief” sounds like a suicide note.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Album Review: Ghostface Killah and Badbadnotgood- Sour Soul


2014 was a miserable year for hip-hop.  Very little in the genre thrilled me.  Yet the first few weeks of 2015 represent an embarrassment of hip-hop riches. 

Along with an alarming portion of the rest of the world, I’m listening to Kendrick Lamar’s new album at the moment.  (Jazz and funk!)

Not taking the chart-topping release by my sworn enemy into consideration, Cannibal Ox and Doomtree have already released albums that are better than any hip-hop titles that came out last year.

While it’s not in the same class as Kendrick’s To Pimp a Butterfly, Sour Soul, the new collaboration between Ghostface Killah and Badbadnotgood, is very good. 

Ghost, of course, is the most notable voice of the Wu-Tang Clan. I once thought of the Canadian band Badbadnotgood as a “fake jazz” collective, but the group has since come a long way in a short time.

With each play of Sour Soul, Ghost’s rhymes become increasingly funny.  The album makes me happy.  Here’s a video for ”Ray Gun”.


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I reviewed the Chieftains’ short and cheesy concert at Helzberg Hall. 

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I contributed a feature about Drakkar Sauna to KCUR.

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I indulge in a so-called guilty pleasure at Plastic Sax.

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Danielle Nicole Schnebelen’s new EP is impressive.  I prefer it to the output of her former band Trampled Under Foot.  RIYL: Etta James, blue-eyed soul, Wilson Pickett.

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Daevid Allen of Gong has died.  When I went through my prog-rock phase, Allen was still one of the leading lights of the form.

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New MC Lyte?  I guess I’m in.

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I put off listening to Butch Walker’s new album for weeks.  Having lost my most of my taste for sensitive rock, I figured it wouldn’t be my thing.  I was wrong.  Afraid of Ghosts is RIYL: Lindsey Buckingham, songs about death, Matthew Ryan.

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There’s nothing unique about Tim Warfield’s Spherical, but the Monk tribute is excellent nonetheless.  RIYL: Charlie Rouse, all things Monk, Coleman Hawkins.

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Big Steve’s endorsement of the project compelled me to audition the Mavericks' fine new Mono.  The flat sound field can be remedied by playing the album through a portable speaker.

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No one asked me, but I believe that the verdict in the Gaye-Thicke/Pharrell Williams is a travesty.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Concert Review: Homegrown Buzz Showcase


Knowing my basketball team was bound to lose on Saturday afternoon, I hedged my bets by attending the Homegrown Buzz Showcase in the Power & Light District.

I kept one eye on television monitors- there’s no shortage of screens in the entertainment district- and both ears on music.

I caught complete sets by five acts and small samples of a few other bands. Three artists stood out.

Various Blonde isn’t perfect- there are a couple elements that could stand a little improvement- but its outing in a crowded restaurant verified my assertion that Various Blonde’s is one of Kansas City’s best rock bands. 

Brandon Phillips covered Iron Maiden, Elvis Costello, Jawbreaker, Leonard Cohen and a song by his band the Architects in his solo set.  It’s not the first time I’ve fallen under his spell.

I’ve seen a lot of mainstream pop, rock, R&B, hip-hop and country acts on the KC Live! stage.  It was a nice change of pace, consequently, to see the post-hardcore band Maps For Travelers make a mighty noise on the big stage.

About that game- my team lost on a last-second shot.


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I reviewed Bill Frisell’s appearance at White Theatre.

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I reviewed Helmet’s show at the RecordBar.

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I reviewed Live at the Living Room, the new album by Victor & Penny Loose Change Orchestra and Their Loose Change Orchestra.

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I contributed a segment on Millie Edwards to KCUR.

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Lew Soloff has died.

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Brandon Phillips of the Architects throws down the gauntlet in an essay for Alternative Press.

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The Kansas City Chorale’s Rachmaninoff: All-Night Vigil was released this week.

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I’m tempted to think that Cannibal Ox made Blade of the Ronin with me in mind.  It’s right in my wheelhouse.  RIYL: Wu-Tang Clan, hip-hop in 1993, Ultramagnetic MCs.

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I guess Estelle isn’t the artist I thought she was.  The new album True Romance isn’t very good.  RIYL: Solange, disappointments, Jazmine Sullivan.  Here’s ”Conqueror”.

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The production on Big Sean’s Dark Sky Paradise is excellent.  Too bad about the rapper.  Here’s a video for the opening track.

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Rhiannon Giddens has doubled down on the retro thing.  Her debut album is RIYL: Judy Collins, calculated realness, Mimi Farina.

(Original image of Various Blonde’s Josh Allen by There Stands the Glass.)