Friday, November 27, 2009
I watched HBO's airing of The Jazz Baroness this week. As this trailer of sorts indicates, it's an odd little documentary. Trumpeter Eddie Henderson, the owner of a Doctors Degree in psychiatry, is one of the film's talking heads. I didn't know what to make of his explanation of the electroshock therapy administered to Thelonious Monk. Henderson's excellent mid-70s funk-fusion efforts like this are far less ambiguous. "Ceora" is from the much tamer Think On Me album from 1990.
I have no idea how many thousands of CDs, DVDs and albums I acquired during the last ten years. I imagine that the majority of the music I accumulate in the forthcoming decade will be MP3s or just borrowed and rented streams. The only way to make physical product appealing today is by offering something unique. The Old Canes and Saddle Creek have the right idea for Feral Harmonic. This video shows the Kansas band's new release being assembled by hand.
I reviewed recent shows headlined by Hatebreed and Tech N9ne.
Kansas City Click: Lenny Williams sings "Cause I Love You" Friday at the Uptown Theater.
Baroness gets loud in the Riot Room on Saturday.
Erin McKeown and Jill Sobule provide a fine double bill Sunday at the Record Bar.
It'll be date night Monday at the Uptown for The Swell Season.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
An old friend called me yesterday. He was beginning to crack under the pressure imposed on him from family and work. I told him to ignore all the needy people. Had he paid me a visit, I'd hook him up with a beverage and an album by Maria Marquez. She could help him slow down. Just listen. Some have compared the Venezuelan's voice to Nina Simone's. That's fair. She manages, however, to create an entirely unique sensibility on the quiet 2001 release Eleven Love Stories.
Johnny Almond of the Mark-Almond band died November 18. My friend BGO noted that Almond lived in the Kansas City area for a while. It's a little before my time, so I'm only now hearing "The City". I can't believe commercial radio once played this sort of folk-jazz fusion.
I heard four high school bands play at a basketball tournament last night. As heard here, Schlagle was best. It was a suburban band's arrangement of "Enter Sandman", however, that blew my mind.
While I love pop music, I was embarrassed for myself as I watched the American Music Awards. What an unmitigated disaster!
The new video for Mac Lethal's "Speak Low" is outstanding.
When I first saw the video for "Body Language", I thought it was an "I'm On a Boat"-style parody. It's not.
Kansas City Click: Hidden Pictures are at the Bulldog tonight.
As noted in the previous post, Willie Clayton appears at Bodyworks Phase II on Thanksgiving.
Friday, November 20, 2009
As I recently noted, the traditional Thanksgiving blues dance in Kansas City, Kansas, isn't happening this year. I learned this week, however, that an excellent alternative is going down on the other side of the state line. Willie Clayton is playing Bodyworks Phase II on Thanksgiving.
Since I featured Clayton at There Stands the Glass in 2006, I'm casting the spotlight today on the great soul singer Howard Tate. He hit the big time with "Ain't Noboby Home" in 1966 but subsequently experienced a couple decades of personal and professional turmoil before being "rediscovered" in recent years. "She's a Burglar" is from the astoundingly powerful Live album. The document captures an excellent 2004 gig in Denmark.
Because I've been living right, I associate Thanksgiving less with turkey and football than with Courvoisier and lewd dancing. I'll need a ride home Thursday afternoon.
I caught the fourth and final set of the Jeff Hamilton Trio's two-night stand in Kansas City. Here's my review.
The fact that Miley Cyrus' "Party In the U.S.A." is in rotation on KPRS makes me proud to be an American. Seriously.
I'm a reluctant self-promoter. Even so, I have to say that I'm absolutely killing it over at my jazz blog Plastic Sax.
Kansas City Click: The Get Up Kids return to the Record Bar on Friday and Saturday. Here's footage of the band's 2008 reunion show at the club.
Here's the promotional video for Tech N9ne's Saturday show at the Independence Events Center.
Bassist Gerald Spaits is featured at the Record Bar's monthly alternative jazz series on Sunday.
Monday, November 16, 2009
I think PacSun is brand of clothing. I'm not entirely sure. Lookin' Bros, however, are obviously all about it. A significant percentage of the 300 people at the Beaumont Club on Sunday for the PacSun PacTour were scarf-toting, guyliner-sporting, designer jeans-wearing dudes.
A schlubby music nerd, I was on hand to see P.O.S. The lookin' bros were not.
Sandwiched between four rock acts, the rap-based artist faced a hostile crowd. Underground hits like "Optimist" failed to convince much of the rockist audience. And even though his set looked and sounded much like this, many refused to be won over. They didn't even laugh when P.O.S. dedicated "P.O.S. Is Ruining My Life" to a couple of particularly venomous haters.
It's their loss. P.O.S.' Never Better is one of the best albums of 2009 regardless of genre.
Industrial dance-rock act Innerparty System went over far better. They were solid, as was A.M.I.M., the Kansas City winners of the tour's battle of the bands component. They'd do very well in an opening slot for One Republic or Maroon 5.
I wasn't nearly as tolerant of Eye Alaska. Of the 300-plus acts I've seen in 2009, I enjoyed their excruciating set the least. Plenty of footage of Saosin's performance has already been uploaded. I didn't stick around for it. I felt obliged to immediately begin shopping for hats.
Kansas City Click: DJ Logic spins Tuesday at Crosstown Station.
(Original image of Innerparty System by There Stands the Glass.)
Sunday, November 15, 2009
A few of the songs Lionel Loueke performed Thursday at the Blue Room clearly evoked the musician's roots in Benin. Yet they weren't exactly exercises in traditional African roots music. Loueke applied an Auto-Tune-style effect to his vocals. It was funny, surprising and entirely delightful. That's Lionel Loueke in a nutshell.
About fifty people- at least a third of whom were area jazz musicians- witnessed an extraordinary musical dialogue between Loueke, bassist Massimo Biolcati and drummer Ferenc Nemeth.
I told someone at intermission that the intense way Loueke and Nemeth locked eyes for minutes at a time made me slightly uncomfortable. This intimacy, however, allowed the men to interact at an incredibly high level. While their music was serious, the musicians played with a rare sense of humor. Thursday's show was one of the funniest I'd seen all year. Nemeth, in particular, is quite a comedian. He'd occasionally raise his stick as if to bash a drum only to pull back at the last moment.
A trumpet player shot some footage of the show. Suggesting that it's not representative of the trio's performance is misleading. No two selections were alike. General references points in the trio's vast stylistic range included Pat Metheny-style gracefulness, John Scofield-ish funk and a bit of James "Blood" Ulmer-style skronk in addition to the African explorations.
The trio's next gig is in Martinique on December 3. I can't imagine a place I'd rather be that day.
(Cross-posted from Plastic Sax, my Kansas City jazz site.)
Thursday, November 12, 2009
A new day.
You don't want to sit or stand next to me at a concert. I'm an emotional guy and music often brings tears to my eyes. These embarrassing incidents occurred several times in 2009.
I cried when Emanuel Ax played Chopin. Tony Bennett giving it his all made me mist up. I broke down as Shane MacGowan slurred his way through "The Old Man Drag." I wept watching Kris Kristofferson struggle to sing. Lots of people, myself included, were reduced to tears by Leonard Cohen's brilliance the other night. And I always get sentimental at the annual grave site salute to Charlie Parker.
The audience at Sunday's performance of music from the documentary film Zamboango: Poverty, War, Music was offered a particularly emotional experience. Most already knew the back story documented in the exceptional movie trailer embedded above. So when the choir entered at the 3:01 mark of "The Wheel," as documented in this footage of the concert, my tears weren't the only ones being shed.
I happen to completely agree with this review of the concert. Go figure. Tim Finn provides additional insights into how Barclay Martin, a Kansas City folk-based artist, became involved in the Zamboanga project.
Although Martin's songs are inspired by the struggles of the Filipino people, the emotions they convey are universal. The lovely and heart-wrenching "Miracle" is typical. I happily paid $15 for the soundtrack at the concert. Proceeds go toward the education of Filipino youth. Copies are available here.
I just noticed that The Elders, Kansas City's second most popular act, have a song on the intriguing soundtrack to Red Roses and Petrol.
Credentials Hip Hop interviews Sleep Close Death.
My deep affection for the Knowles sisters is further justified by Solange's new cover of the Dirty Projector's "Stillness Is the Move." Pitchfork has the download. (Found via Gorilla Vs. Bear's Twitter account.)
That's right, There Stands the Glass trainspotters. Barclay Martin is now the fourth artist who's been featured twice at this site.
Kansas City Click: Lionel Loueke makes his Kansas City debut Thursday at the Blue Room.
Steddy P and Stik Figa are on Friday's bill at the Record Bar.
Chuck Prophet returns to Davey's on Saturday.
P.O.S. opens for Saosin Sunday at the Beaumont.
(Image of Sunday's Zamboanga concert taken from the project's Flickr account.)
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I didn't care for the ostentatious demeanor of the saxophonist. That concludes my negative criticism of last night's Leonard Cohen concert.
Prior to the show I'd told friends that I was only going so that I could "cross Cohen off my list" of artists I'd never seen perform. While his new Live In London album indicates that Cohen is still vital, I had my doubts. Cohen shattered my suspicions just a few minutes into his three-hour show.
Cohen was spectacular. His voice was so much stronger and more resonant than I had expected. And seeing his full band in person suddenly made the odd "European blues" setting of his albums seem more sophisticated than schmaltzy.
For a proper review and telling photos, check Tim Finn's analysis.
Kansas City Click: Danny Embrey plays solo guitar Tuesday at Jardine's.
A Halestorm hits the Uptown Theater on Wednesday when the band opens for Chevelle.
(Orginal image by There Stands the Glass.)
Friday, November 06, 2009
Back to the working week.
I lost much of my enthusiasm for Kansas City's annual Thanksgiving blues breakfast after I sustained an injury in 2007. The unfortunate combination of Stoli and Millie Jackson caught up with me a couple hours after the event. Still, I was saddened that the tradition has come to an end. As much as I'd like to think the organizers decided my absence last year was reason enough to give up the entire endeavor, I'm sure that other factors contributed to the end of an era. One of them, of course, is that many of the premier soul-blues artists have left this mortal coil. Johnny Adams, Clarence Carter, Tyrone Davis, Z.Z. Hill, Little Milton, Wilson Pickett and Johnnie Taylor are gone. At least Artie "Blues Boy" White, 72, is still among us. "The Night Before Payday" is from an album that isn't in Amazon's system. They do offer a few alternatives. It's too bad I won't be dancing to White this Thanksgiving. Missing the Stoli shots, however, is probably a blessing.
My friend Joel interviewed Paul Shirley.
In the same way I appreciated Donald Fagen's The Nightfly, I'm feeling the Norah Jones's new album.
Kansas City Click: Snoop Dogg brings Method Man, Redman and Devin the Dude to the VooDoo on Friday.
This year's Apocalypse Meow benefit takes place Saturday at Crosstown Station.
Ken Aldcroft joins the People's Liberation Big Band at the Record Bar on Sunday.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
I bought a stack of Van Dyke Parks vinyl cutouts in the '80s. I vividly recall the sense of bewilderment that overcame me when I first played them. I knew of the man primarily through his association with the Byrds and the Beach Boys. But his meticulously produced oddball art songs struck me as unlistenable. Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I bought a handful of Parks cutouts on CD in the '90s. Yep- still weird. Tastes change. I now kind of like the way he subverted calypso on 1975's Clang of the Yankee Reaper.
I created two Twitter lists- Kansas City Hip Hop and Kansas City Jazz.
It seems as if I'm constantly expressing disappointment with Mac Lethal. I'm pleased, consequently, that he's back on track. Check out his new songs at MySpace.
The design for NPR's 50 Great Voices feature is outstanding.
I reviewed a spectacular performance by Afinidad.
Kansas City Click: McCoy tops Tuesday's bill at the Record Bar.
I've never been a huge Bouncing Souls fan, but I'm tempted by the opportunity to catch the band at the intimate Riot Room on Wednesday.