Thursday, September 21, 2017

Album Review: Pistol Pete- The 3Pete


The rims on the minivan in the hilarious video for ”Konichiwa” sold me on the Kansas City rapper Pistol Pete.  He’s as funny as Mac Lethal and as funky as Rich the Factor on his new album The 3Pete.

Pistol Pete insists that “I ain’t a rapper, I’m more a storyteller” on “2bad2good.”   The track’s jazz foundation indicates that the title is a likely reference to the Canadian jazz/hip-hop collective BadBadNotGood.  “So Gone” also swings while other tracks reveal the influence of Mac Dre.

The 3Pete concludes with my new theme song “Only Opponent.”  Like Mac Lethal, Rich the Factor and Pistol Pete, I see my most formidable adversary “when I look in the mirror.”


---
I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

---
I featured Molly Hammer in my weekly segment for KCUR.

---
I documented a portion of my recent whiskey trip to Louisville at Plastic Sax.

---
The one-time Kansan Mark Selby, a graduate of Fort Hays State who co-wrote the Dixie Chicks hit “There’s Your Trouble,” has died.

---
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s first album of 2017 struck me as a pointless recreation of Miles Davis’ Decoy.  A more interesting groove makes Diaspora a much better listen.

---
Difficult admission: I’d never heard most of the tracks on the new Can compilation The Singles.  Aside from a few slices of cheese at the end, every song is stunning.

---
Rock musician Jeremy Porter wrote an excellent remembrance of Grant Hart.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Puttin' On the Ritz



A base in Greenwich Village on a recent trip to New York City altered my perspective of the ostensible artistic and economic capital of the world.  Aside from the omnipresent scent of urine, there was nothing I didn’t like about the neighborhood (not that I could afford even the least expensive items in many of the rarified shops.)  Finding the willpower to sleep when renowned jazz clubs were within a 15-minute walk was a real challenge.

I didn’t catch Bill Charlap this time around, but the sophisticated tone of the pianist’s new album Uptown, Downtown with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington reflects the urbane ambiance I encountered at tony venues including the Blue Note.  (Here's my footage of a fancy Eddie Palmieri show.)

The host at Mezzrow may have mistaken me for David Lynch when he positioned me at a prime table for a solo concert by Sullivan Fortner even though I was wearing a ratty t-shirt.  I felt like I was at the top of the world as people decked out for fashion shoots and residents of luxury condos envied my spot within arm’s reach of the engaging young pianist.


---
I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

---
I laud the Black Dolphin at Plastic Sax.

---
Don Williams has died.

---
Hüsker Dü was one of my favorite bands in the mid-’80s.  Grant Hart’s warm songs provided vital balance on classic albums like Flip Your Wig.  Hart died Wednesday.

---
Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry died last week.  Montgomery Gentry headlined a concert at Providence Medical Center Amphitheater in Bonner Springs a few weeks ago.

---
I caught Sheer Mag at Kaiju in Louisville last week.

---
Hearing Sammy Hagar’s “Heavy Metal” on KSHE while driving through St. Louis this week made me giddy, but played-out tracks by Jefferson Starship, Pink Floyd Cheap Trick, Tom Petty and Yes just made me sad.

---
Instant Karma’s Trying To Find My Mind is RIYL the Pretty Things, Kansas City garage-rock bands, Wreckless Eric.

---
Van Hunt’s terrific Popular acts as an accidental Prince tribute.

---
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real’s self-titled release  is a fine outlaw country-ish album.  RIYL: the Grateful Dead, legacies, Sturgill Simpson.

---
I admire Matt Wilson’s Honey and Salt: Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg, but I don’t necessarily like it.  RIYL: Ken Nordine, beatniks, Lord Buckley.

---
A pithy jam band?  That’s the premise of Hard Working Americans.  We’re All In This Together is RIYL Todd Snider, barroom blues, Widespread Panic.  Here’s the title track.

---
In much the same way I crave junk food, I derive enormous pleasure from Playboi Carti’s self-titled mixtape. Here’s “New Choppa”.

---
Much of Living Colour’s Shade is stunning.  Here’s the band’s cover of “Who Shot Ya?”

---
My lack of enthusiasm for Malija’s Instinct is further proof that I’m not automatically in the tank for every highly-touted Euro-jazz album.  RIYL: Paul Desmond, cold handshakes, Phronesis.

---
Mike Stern Trip is an appealing time machine.  RIYL: the Brecker Brothers, jazz fusion circa 1980, We Want Miles.

---
Krystian Zimerman’s Franz Schubert: Piano Sonatas has helped to center me in recent days.

---
Antibalas’ Where the Gods Are in Peace is more of the same.  That’s a good thing.  RIYL Fela, celestial jams, Lettuce.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Concert Review: Rich the Factor, the Popper and Don Juan at 7th Heaven


“I’m KC!”  I don’t wear Kansas City-branded t-shirts and I’ve never used a #kcpride hashtag.  Yet as the Popper performed his latest anthem about Kansas City in a parking lot on Troost Avenue on Labor Day, I realized that I may be Kansas City’s truest music enthusiast.  Not only did I begin documenting my longstanding devotion to the sound that made the town famous at Plastic Sax in 2007, I have concurrently chronicled the rap scene that’s produced the only other hometown sound to make a significant global impression during that span.

In the four-and-a-half hours I spent at the free outdoor event sponsored by 7th Heaven, Rich the Factor, the Popper and Don Juan were among the prominent artists who expressed appreciation for their longstanding partnership with the scrappy retailer.  Bucking music industry trends, CDs are sold alongside the apparel lines of Kansas City rap heavyweights at the store.

As I wrote in a 2016 album review, Rich the Factor is “a veritable legend on the streets of the city’s urban core.” He affirmed his status during an auspicious headlining performance.  Don Juan performed “I Am the Street” after boasting that “I started that Tech N9ne sh*t” and reminding onlookers of his affiliation with the late Mac Dre.  Rush Borda, Chauncey Clyde and the teen duo Candii Gyrlz were among the other notable acts at the makeshift rooftop stage that validated my obsessive dedication to the most essential Kansas City music.

I posted video snippets of sets by Rich the Factor, Don Juan and The Popper to my Instagram account.  I also documented 7th Heaven’s Taste of Troost party in 2009.


---
I named the forthcoming Gorillaz show at the Sprint Center my concert of the month for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

---
The Project H is KCUR’s Band of the Week.  My on-air segment will appear online in this space.

---
I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

---
I recount my experience at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in Tompkins Square Park at Plastic Sax.

---
I hope the reports that the Kansas City musician Ben Juneau has died are incorrect.

---
Walter Becker of Steely Dan has died.

---
Holger Czukay of Can has died.

---
I opted to attend Noise Fest at Davey’s rather than the Kansas City Irish Fest at Crown Center last weekend.  Most of the acts I saw at the shambolic event sponsored by Leavenworth’s Big Pharma Records were merely uninspired dudes who manipulated feedback and static.  Only Pussyvision’s riveting freakout redeemed my break with tradition.

---
A$AP Mob’s Cozy Tapes Vol. 2: Too Cozy is rude, childish and without any redeeming social value.  Needless to say, I'm all about it.  Here’s “Perry Aye”.

---
The members of Algiers and I clearly like a lot of the same records.  It’s odd, consequently, that I can’t get into The Underside of Power.  RIYL Solomon Burke, futuristic gospel, Elvis Presley.  Here’s the title track.

---
Eric Revis’ astounding Sing Me Some Cry is RIYL Ken Vandermark, temerity, David Ware.

---
While it’s not exactly complex, Lil Uzi Vert’s Luv Is Rage 2 is shockingly multidimensional.  Color me (very) impressed.  Here’s ”How To Talk”.

---
New Order’s Power, Corruption and Lies turned my world around in 1983.  Even with its overt tributes to Suicide and David Bowie, I hear LCD Soundsystem’s American Dream as a heartfelt homage to the seminal release.

---
If Tyler, The Creator is really as miserable as he sounds on Flower Boy, he’s likely going to be utterly despondent when he's 50.  RIYL: cranks, Earl Sweatshirt, misanthropes.  Here’s ”Who Dat Boy”.

---
I can’t be sure that I’ve listened to Ozuna’s ridiculously slight Odisea.  His reggaeton is the wispiest music I’ve heard.  Here’s “Una Flor”.

---
I don’t loathe Portico Quartet’s Art in the Age of Automation because the ensemble has shifted away from jazz.  I simply can’t stand the sound of soulless ringtones.

---
P.O.S’s verses on Shredders’ ”Flipping Cars” are stupendous.

---
The gratuitous volume employed by Mogwai at a Matador Records showcase at SXSW in 2001 came just shy of making my ears literally bleed.  I was unable to flee because I was working the show.  I’ve held a grudge against the Scottish band ever since.  Even so, I’ve fallen hard for Every Country’s Sun.

(Original image of Rich the Factor by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Concert Review: Aaron Neville at City Winery


My life partner told me that several acquaintances have asked her which Broadway productions she caught on our recent jaunt to New York City.  Those people don’t know us very well.  Predictably, we haunted music venues. Only one show commanded the exorbitant ticket prices associated with hit musicals.  Aaron Neville was worth it. Accompanied by pianist Michael Goods, the legendary vocalist crooned for 200 people at City Winery.  Although I wasn’t always thrilled with the selections- I would have preferred less Carole King and more Allen Toussaint- Neville still sings like a bird.  Enduring a leisurely version of the Bobby Goldsboro hit “Honey” was rough, but the star made up for his lapse in judgement with readings of “Hercules,” “Mojo Hannah” and a bitterly timely interpretation of Randy Newman’s “Louisiana 1927.”  You can bet I wept.


---
I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

---
For once, I come across as a prescient genius in Tim Finn’s analysis of Taylor Swift’s career.

---
I enjoy Queens of the Stone Age’s Villians without reservation.  ”The Evil Has Landed” is my jam.

---
I’m down with Najee.  Wanna make something of it?  Poetry In Motion is expertly manufactured functional music.

---
Quaint swing isn't usually my thing, but To Love and Be Loved, the new release from the veteran pianist Harold Mabern, charmed me.

---
The backstory of Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa is horrific.  As for the music, well, I’ve never heard anything quite like it.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Album Review: Youngblood Supercult- The Great American Death Rattle


When a friend recently informed me that the Topeka based Youngblood Supercult had been added to the lineup of Psycho Las Vegas, a festival headlined by the Brian Jonestown Massacre, King Diamond and Mastodon, he and I marveled at the stoner-rock band's low profile in its home market.  The lo-fi sludge of 151-proof songs like “Wormwood” on the new album The Great American Death Rattle effectively recycle the best bits of early Soundgarden, Fu Manchu and Clutch.  Even though the quartet has yet to make much of an impression in Kansas City, Youngblood Supercult is one of the mightiest bands in the Midwest.


---
I reviewed a concert by Marco Antonio Solis and Jesse & Joy.

---
I featured jazz bassist Micah Herman on my weekly KCUR segment.

---
I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

---
I trespassed on a rarifed jazz salon last week.

---
Sonny Burgess has died.

---
I claimed Sargasso Sea, my introduction to the music of John Abercrombie, from a discount bin at Classical Westport in the late ‘70s.  I haven’t been the same since. Abercrombie died on Tuesday.

---
I’m embarrassed for almost everyone associated with the utterly dismal Rich the Factor Presents KC’s the Town Compilation.

---
I like A$AP Ferg’s crossover hits more than his club bangers.  Although it sounds like a million bucks, Still Striving is a street album. Here’s ”East Coast Remix”.

---
Acoustic Classics II, a new set of re-recordings, is an ideal introduction to the cult of Richard Thompson.

---
Three or four songs on Not Dark Yet, a collaboration between sisters Allison Moorer and Shelby Lynne, please me.

---
Even though Yelena Eckemoff is accompanied by jazz luminaries including Chris Potter on In the Shadow of a Cloud, the album is less satisfying than Blooming Tall Phlox, the astounding January release she recorded with relatively obscure Finnish musicians.

---
Eddie Palmieri’s music has infused me with joy for decades.  Sabiduria is no different.  RIYL: Willie Bobo, life, Tito Puente.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Throw Your Hands in the Air

Before I could even consider pouting because I was working an Idina Menzel concert rather than a nearby outing by Kendrick Lamar last night, I began receiving a series of unsolicited texts about the poor quality of the consequential artist’s show from outraged friends.  While undiscerning status-conscious Stans might rightfully point out that I wasn’t on hand to bear witness to the greatness of Kung Fu Kenny on Wednesday, the judgements of my like-minded pals affirms what remains painfully obvious: live performances by hip-hop/rap stars (including the two times I’ve seen Lamar) are invariably disappointing.  There are exceptions- Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, the Roots and (sometimes) Tech N9ne come to mind- but too often the quality of hip-hop/rap shows is inversely proportional to the monumental vitality of even the most essential recordings.


---
I reviewed Green Day’s concert for The Kansas City Star on Friday.

---
I reviewed a concert by Logic and Joey Badass for The Kansas City Star on Saturday.

---
I reviewed “An Evening With George Gershwin” at MTH Theater on Sunday.

---
I reviewed Idina Menzel’s concert at Starlight Theatre on Wednesday.

---
I featured Soul Revival on my weekly KCUR segment.

---
Me and my big mouth: I inadvertently stirred up race-related trouble in Kansas City.  My mea culpa is posted at Plastic Sax.

---
I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

---
Aesop Rock’s instrumental score for Bushwick is dandy.  RIYL: Isaac Hayes, tension, Hans Zimmer.

---
Single Mothers’ Our Pleasure is RIYL F*cked Up, extremely irritating vocalists, Titus Andronicus.

---
Reactionary condemnations of the latest disruptive sound are always a bad look.  Unlike some of my peers, I endorse Lil Peep’s controversial Come Over When You’re Sober.  The successful merger of the aesthetics of Kurt Cobain and Lil Uzi Vert seems like a license to print money.  Here’s ”Brightside”.

(Original image of Joey Badass at his wickity-wickity-wack performance on Saturday by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

You Run Your Mouth, I'll Run My Business


My obsessive-compulsive tendencies compel me to think twice before queuing up compilations of irreproachable music by the likes of the Carter Family, Coleman Hawkins, Billie Holiday or Django Reinhardt.  Their timeless works tend to send me down unproductive rabbit holes.  It was with great reluctance, consequently, that I played the first of 136 tracks on the new Louis Armstrong collection The Complete Decca Singles 1935-1946.  I was out of commission for the next six hours and 38 minutes.  Oh, but what glorious waste of time!  Armstrong was such a genius that his interpretations of extremely problematic material, culturally insensitive compositions and pure drek are just as compelling as his classic works.  And when it comes to Armstrong, too much isn’t enough.


---
I reviewed a concert by RL Grime, What So Not, Graves and Longer Days at the Midland theater for The Kansas City Star.

---
I reviewed a concert by Primus and Clutch for The Kansas City Star.

---
I reviewed a concert by the Harlem Quartet at Plastic Sax.

---
I featured Bloodstone in my weekly segment on KCUR.

---
I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

---
I don’t think any album in my old man’s regular rotation annoyed me more than Glen Campbell’s 1969 release Live.  It opens with a over-the-top medley.  The second track is a corny rendition of “White Lightning.”  My whiskey-drinking dad would mimic the vocal effects.  I never got past it.

---
Barbara Cook has died.

---
DL Menard has died.

---
Howard Husock, the father of Eli “Paperboy” Reed, has written a fascinating account of his fleeting relationship with the late blues man Fred Davis.  The Kansas City native was killed in Cleveland in 1988.

---
I admire all of the genre-shattering impulses displayed on Paul Jones’ Clean.  His version of jazz is RIYL Philip Glass, chamber music, David Binney.

---
Tyler Childers’ Purgatory doesn’t contain a single original idea.  I like it anyway.  RIYL: the young Steve Earle, “real” country, Turnpike Troubadours.  Here’s ”Whitehouse Road”.

---
I’m annoyed (and a bit embarrassed) that I immediately fell for Forq’s new album Thrēq.  The quartet melds the most appealing (and dorky) elements of prog-rock and jazz fusion.  RIYL: Brand X, imaginary soundtracks, Bob James.

---
Damn hippies!  Power of Peace, a collaboration between Carlos Santana and the Isley Brothers, is far out.

---
Hey, John Scofield is pretty good.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)