Monday, May 18, 2015

B.B. King, 1925-2015




The first B.B. King concert I attended altered the way I perceive culture and society.

My date and I were among the only white people in the balcony of the Uptown Theater in 1979 (people under the age of 18 weren’t allowed on the floor at the time). 

The demonstrative audience- they preferred co-headliner Bobby Bland to King- showed me how to become completely immersed in the music.  Nothing was the same for me after that night.

I noticed the changing complexion of King’s audience each time I saw him perform.  The transition seemed to have been fully realized at the final King show I attended.  The great man served as an opening act for Peter Frampton at a sad 2013 concert at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre.

The giant of American music died last week.


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I reviewed a concert by Samantha Fish and Katy Guillen and the Girls.

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I contributed a Local Listen segment about Behzod Abduraimov to KCUR.

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The Numero Group has issued a 1969 recording by the Kansas City band White Eyes. RIYL: Crosby Stills & Nash, psychedelics, Richie Furay.  Here’s an 81-second video promoting the find.

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Heidi Lynne Gluck’s The Only Girl in the Room is impressive.  RIYL: Jenny Lewis, winsomeness, M. Ward.

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Teddy Dibble shares a handful of avant-garde jazz albums from his collection.

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Bernard Sollman of ESP-Disk has died.

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I’m not ready to proclaim as Chris Stapleton as the best thing since Dolly Parton’s wig, but Traveller is pretty great.  RIYL: Waylon, the Sturgill Simpson of 2015, Willie.

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I’ve been born again.  The Supreme Jubilees’ recently reissued album “It’ll All Be Over” is that powerful.  Here’s the title track.

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A version of  ”True Trans Soul Rebel” featuring Laura Jane Grace and Miley Cyrus is kind of weak, but it makes me smile anyway.

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John Patitucci’s Brooklyn is surprisingly hip.  RIYL: Lionel Loueke, international cocktail jazz for 2015, Steve Cardenas.

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The world didn’t need Stone Sour’s Meanwhile In Burbank… but I’m glad the covers EP exists.  

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As far as I can tell, I’m the only person on the planet who’s heard Juneteenth, Stanley Cowell’s excellent new solo piano album.

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I listened to media sensation Joey Alexander’s debut album.  It’s fine.  The problem with the cycle of hype associated with jazz prodigies, of course, is that most are discarded when they hit their mid-twenties.  There’s no denying that the visual element is very compelling.

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Portions of Pops Staples’ posthumous Don’t Lose This are magnificent.

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I’d rather think about Zac Brown Band’s dabblings in EDM and heavy metal than listen to  Jeckyll + Hyde a second time.  ”Heavy Is the Head” is my favorite track.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, May 11, 2015

I'm One


The PA system at the United Center in Chicago blared “Baba O’Riley” at a crucial juncture of the fourth quarter of the Bulls-Cavaliers game yesterday.

The moment was reason #3,129 I can no longer listen to the Who for pleasure.  That’s why I was relieved when The Who's appearance at the Sprint Center was canceled last week a day before the concert.

I knew I wouldn’t be working the show, but I felt obligated to show up and buy a ticket.  As a self-centered 17-year-old twit, I completed internalized Quadrophenia.

A lot’s happened since then.


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I reviewed Primus’ return to the Uptown Theater.

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I reviewed Mary Chapin Carpenter’s collaboration with the Kansas City Symphony.

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I contributed a Local Listen segment about Julian Vaughn to KCUR.

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Johnny Gimble has died.  I saw the fiddler accompany country stars a few times and I took in a few sets he led in Winfield, Kansas.

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Guy Carawan has died.

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Jerome Cooper, the drummer of the Revolutionary Ensemble, has died.

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Errol Brown of Hot Chocolate has died.

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Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear were featured on CBS Sunday Morning.

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Only when forced at proverbial gunpoint did I reluctantly listen to the Alabama Shakes’ Sound & Color.  Holy smokes!  RIYL: Some Girls, career artists, My Morning Jacket.  Here’s the title track

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Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  Much of Kamasi Washington’s The Epic struck me as merely “good” during my first pass at the three-hour album.  From the choirs to the running time, it’s just too much.  RIYL: Pharoah Sanders, hype, Joshua Redman.

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Never Were the Way She Was is the first Colin Stetson album that completely resonates with me.  RIYL: chamber music, Hauschka, not a trace of jazz.

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Reason #3,130 I can’t listen to the Who for pleasure- Quadrophenia has become an actual opera.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, May 04, 2015

Album Review: Yelawolf- Love Story


Blame it on David Allan Coe.  I was raised on outlaw country songs like “Longhaired Redneck” and the infamous “If That Ain’t Country.”

I suppose that’s why I remain partial to decidedly uncouth music by Southern and Midwestern outsiders ranging from Kid Rock to Tech N9ne. 

Yelawolf, the controversial Alabaman who has been repeatedly excoriated by critics, speaks directly to me, partly because I relate to his intense relationships with God and alcohol. 

Yelawolf airs his dirty laundry on the deliberately offensive “Whiskey in a Bottle”, one of Love Story’s many strong tracks.  ”Best Friend”, a collaboration with Eminem, is also pretty great. 

I don't condone the hateful slurs Yelawolf employs, nor will you ever hear me utter those words.  But that doesn’t mean that I haven't been barraged by similar trash talk for much of my life. 

I may not look or sound like Yelawolf, but I know precisely where he's coming from.


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I reviewed a concert by Vance Joy, the Kooks, Joywave and Hembree.

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I contributed a Local Listen segment about Mat Shoare to KCUR.

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“Hood Crazy” is probably Tech N9ne’s most mainstream song to date.  Here’s the video.  Tech N9ne’s Special Effects drops this week.

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I saw Joseph Kern conduct the Midwest Chamber Orchestra in a performance of his dissonant but romantic new Chamber Symphony at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection last night.  Sarah Tannehill-Anderson’s singing of a Walt Whitman text was beauteous.

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Ben E. King has died.  I suppose “Spanish Harlem” is my favorite King hit.

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Jack Ely of the Kingsmen has died.

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Reach places flowers at the graves of jazz, rock and hip-hop in the ”Pay Respects” video.

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His provocative image aside, Young Thug is kind of boring.  Barter 6 is  RIYL: Birdman, drugs, Weezy.  Here’s ”Constantly Hating”.

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Earl Sweatshirt is so sad.  "Solace" is his extremely loose new project.

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Just a Mortal Man is the debut album of 71-year-old Jerry Lawson.  RIYL: Brook Benton, classic soul, Solomon Burke.  Here’s the title track.

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I appreciate Marc Myers’ reevaluation of the collaboration between Tony Bennett and Bill Evans.

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Angry jazz is good jazz.  Terence Blanchard’s goes hard on the EPK for his new album.

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Need a lift?  I recommend "Gyae Su" by Pat Thomas the Kwashibu Area Band.

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Portions of Raekwon’s Fly International Luxurious Art are almost as good as Ghostface Killah’s recent string of outstanding albums.  RIYL: Wu-Tang Clan, the kitchen sink, Busta Rhymes.  Here’s ”All About You”.

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Bell Witch’s acclaimed metal album Four Phantoms is RIYL: vertigo, High On Fire, fashionable black metal.

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I’m disappointed by Charles Lloyd’s Wild Man Dance.  RIYL: hype, Gerald Clayton, third stream.  The EPK, however, is amazing.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Be Good Or Be Gone


Since the previous There Stands the Glass post seven days ago, I’ve taken in 30 sets of live music.  My ten favorites:
  • Four Fists
  • Sufjan Stevens
  • Ebony Tusks
  • Duncan Burnett and the Ministry
  • Jorge Arana Trio
  • Sleater-Kinney
  • The Phantastics
  • Sie Lieben Maschinen
  • Anna Cole and the Other Lovers
  • Peter Hook and the Light

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I reviewed a concert by Sleater-Kinney and Theesatisfaction on Sunday.

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I reviewed Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest on Friday and Saturday.

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I reviewed Death Cab For Cutie’s concert at the Midland theater on Thursday.

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I reviewed Sufjan Stevens’ concert at the Midland theater on Tuesday.

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I contributed a Local Listen segment about La Guerre to KCUR.

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Here’s a ten-minute documentary about the obscure Kansas City musician Michael Angelo.  His 1977 debut album will be reissued on April 28.

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“Yoga” indicates that Janelle Monáe is intent on expanding her audience.

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Live at Monterey Jazz Festival, the debut release of a band co-led by Dave Douglas and Joe Lovano, is every bit as impressive as you’d think.  RIYL: Dave Holland, present-day Wayne Shorter, Tim Berne.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

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.)