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Music Notes


Paul discussed the death of Toots Hibbert, so I will focus a bit on the other major musical death of the last couple of weeks, which is the great jazz bassist Gary Peacock. The rare jazzman from Idaho, he fell under the spell of Ornette Coleman, become one of the great bassists of the 1960s, and worked with people such as Albert Ayler, Paul Bley, Keith Jarrett, and even Miles when Ron Carter took a break. Jazz Times had an excellent retrospective on Peacock’s transformative influence back in April. It’s well worth checking out.

If you do want more on Toots, here’s Trey Anastasio’s remembrance. And here is one from Jimmy Cliff.

Some day we will see live music again, but be sure to check in with your favorite bands and artists to see if they are doing some streamed performances and send them some money. I’ve been catching most of the alternating Wednesday Patterson Hood/Mike Cooley shows and the Wussy shows on Friday. I’ve seen some of James McMurtry’s material too. I meant to watch Leyla McCalla last night, but ended up at a brewery instead. Can’t really complain too much about that.

Good piece on the Voices from East Harlem back after a half-century.

More than a little racism in the Latin music scene.

40 years since the release of Kate Bush’s Never For Ever.

No Depression, the magazine of the alt-country movement, has turned 25.

Album Reviews:

Margo Price, That’s How Rumors Get Started

The question of whether Margo’s new album is country or not is irrelevant. Some have compared it to a Fleetwood Mac album. I don’t know. What it is is a damn fine album of good songs and great singing. I’m not sure this matched up to Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, which is a true ‘A’ album if there ever was one. But it’s a very good contribution to what has become one of the finest careers of the last decade.


Sampha, Process

I thought this 2017 release from the British artist who had long been a preferred backup singer and collaborator among the biggest soul and R&B stars was quite good. The album’s theme is grief at the loss of parents and while something like that can be treacly, this is just a fine piece of work. More importantly of course is that he has a series of great songs with excellent production. Real nice stuff.


Mount Eerie, A Crow Looked at Me

I keep trying to get the work of Phil Elevrum. And it’s just not going to happen. I liked this 2017 release more than other albums I’ve heard but I still struggle to deal with his constant moodiness. It’s also a death album, about his wife, and that’s a horrible subject to have to try and deal with. But that tragedy doesn’t mean I have to like it.


Wayne Shorter, Emanon

This album really surprised me. I love Shorter of course, but it’s not as if his late life work has been consistently groundbreaking or anything. There’s been good albums and there’s been somewhat more whatever albums. But this is a fantastic release from 2018 based on a graphic novel Shorter co-wrote with some comic book writers that’s a futuristic piece about his artistic philosophy based on Buddhism. I haven’t read the graphic novel, but it sounds interesting. It’s a full three discs, which might be a bit much, but it’s forgivable when the first is this brilliant. Shorter put on his Aaron Copland hat and created some very mid-century American populist compositions for his quartet and a 34-piece orchestra. This is brilliant work. The second and third discs are still quite strong, live performances from his quartet recorded in London. Hard to say really if Shorter is going to release another album. He hasn’t since and he’s not a young man. If this happened to be his last album, it would be a hell of a way to end a legendary career.


SZA, Ctrl

Finally got to this well-reviewed 2017 album from the New Jersey-raised R&B artist. No one is reading my reviews expecting to see the most culturally hip material anyway. It’s a really strong album about a young woman expressing herself sexually (including telling the ex-boyfriend who left her on Valentine’s Day that she slept with his best friend for the first time through the album!). The theme of young people discovering themselves expressed through music is truly of ageless interest, both in terms of when the music was made and how old the listener is when they hear it.


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