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The Big Takeover Issue #91

Michael Toland

Michael Toland began scribbling about music in 1988 for the photocopied ‘zine FHT Music Notes. He’s since written for various print and online publications, including Pop Culture Press (for whom he was reviews editor for several years), Texas Music (of which he was a founding editor), Trouser Press, Sleazegrinder, Sonic Ruin, Amplifier, Goldmine, Austin Citysearch the Austin American Statesman, Blurt and the Austin Chronicle. He was also the creator and grand poobah of the music-obsessive web site High Bias (2001-2006). He lives in Austin, Texas and works for public television.

Popular Creeps - All of This Will End in Tears/Librarians With Hickeys - Handclaps & Tambourines/Crossword Smiles - Pressed & Ironed (Big Stir)

7 December 2022

In a way the West Coast counterpart to Boston’s Rum Bar Records, Burbank’s Big Stir also pledges its troth to gimmick-free guitar pop and rock & roll, with an emphasis on the former.

Harvie S & Roni Ben-Hur with Sylvia Cuenca - Wondering (Dot Time)

6 December 2022

The pair hit it off when working together as part of drummer Tim Horner’s group, and their chemistry, both with each other and with Cuenca, is evident in this relaxed set of songs.

Dawn Riding - You’re Still Here (Speakeasy)

5 December 2022

Working with producer Alicia Vanden Heuvel, Janko and her band make a record that sounds utterly out of time, with a simple, stripped-down arrangement style that eschews production slickness for soul.

Darryl Harper - Chamber Made (Stricker Street)

5 December 2022

The term “chamber jazz” has fairly wide-ranging connotations – just check out the catalog of ECM Records. But Chamber Made, the latest album from clarinetist Darryl Harper, takes the sobriquet literally.

Ahmad Jamal - Emerald City Nights: Live at the Penthouse Vol. 1 & 2 (Jazz Detective/Deep Digs Music Group)

2 December 2022

Though he’s not invoked as much as he used to be, it’s worth remembering that Ahmad Jamal is a major jazz figure, both in terms of popularity and cultural impact.

Ward White - Ice Cream Chords (VF14)

1 December 2022

The Los Angeles singer/songwriter/guitarist has made it to album #14 without causing much of a ripple on the surface of popular acclaim, and given the high quality of his work, that’s both a shame and a mystery.

Stephan Thelen - Fractal Guitar 3 (MoonJune)

30 November 2022

Though not as focused as the Sonar records or as risky as the string quartet album, in some ways Thelen’s Fractal Guitar series represents his aesthetic at its most pure.

Dan Israel - Seriously (self-released)

29 November 2022
Few songwriters are capable of coming up with such catchy melodies with such ease, and his sonic approach – somewhere between rootsy folk rock and winsome power pop – fits his plainspoken singing and (mostly) personal lyrics like the perfect sock.

Ant Law & Alex Hitchcock - Same Moon in the Same World (Outside In Music)

28 November 2022

As both men favor melodic construction over unrestricted blowing, together they create a program that, while technically impressive, is more purely musical than anything else.

Rum Bar Records Round-Up: The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs - All the Covers (and More)/The Young Hasselhoffs - Life Got in the Way/The Downhauls - Versus (All Modern Evils (Rum Bar)

25 November 2022

It’s hard to keep up, let alone find the brightest diamonds, so here’s a quick round-up of some of the best of their recent releases.

Nicholas Payton - The Couch Sessions (Smoke Sessions)

23 November 2022

Trumpeter/keyboardist Nicholas Payton is that rare musician who knows exactly how to balance two callings – reverence for the ancestors and the urge to move forward and keep the music’s evolution going.

Overwhelming Colorfast - s/t (ORG Music)

22 November 2022

The quartet made three albums of punky, fuzz-banged power pop that deserved more than to be relegated to the dollar bins.

Dezron Douglas - ATALAYA (International Anthem)

21 November 2022

Though probably best known for his work with Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane, Louis Hayes and Trey Anastasio, bassist/composer Dezron Douglas is a fine bandleader in his own right.

Savage Republic - Africa Corps Live at the Whisky A Go Go/Exploratorium - s/t (Independent Project Records)

18 November 2022

Guitarist Bruce Licher continues rolling out the reissues on his re-galvanized Independent Project Records label with the release of archival material from his much beloved band Savage Republic.

Hayley and the Crushers - Modern Adult Kicks (Kitten Robot)

17 November 2022

Filtering their sunny birthplace roots through the hard rocking urbanity of their current hometown, California-to-Detroit immigrants Hayley and the Crusher kick the appropriate jams out on fourth LP Modern Adult Kicks.

Avram Fefer Quartet - Juba Lee (Clean Feed)

17 November 2022

Fefer comes up with strong tunes that take advantage not only of his full-boded, almost creamy tone, but the special skills of his quartet.

Mata Atlântica - Retiro e Ritmo (7d Media)

16 November 2022

Mata Atlântica is a rainforest on the coast of Brazil, and is one of the most species-rich biotopes on Earth – as well as one of the most endangered, with 90% of it already destroyed. Mata Atlântica is also a musical project assembled by co-producer and co-composers Mathias Derer and Markus Reuter.

Esbjörn Svensson Solo - Home.S. (ACT Music)

15 November 2022

His run with the Trio sadly came to a sudden end with his 2008 death via a scuba-diving accident, but it turns out his musical career wasn’t over yet. Discovered in the music he left behind was a fully recorded and mixed solo piano album.

Song Yi Jeon & Vinicius Gomes - Home (Greenleaf)

14 November 2022

There can be something magical about stripping music down to just an instrument and a voice, without the enhancement (distraction?) of a full-blown arrangement.

The Veldt - Entropy is the Mainline to God (Little Cloud/Acid Test Recordings/5B)

11 November 2022

Entropy is the Mainline to God is the first full-length album under the Veldt name since 1998. And it’s a doozy.

Bill Frisell - Four (Blue Note)

11 November 2022

Never one to rest on his laurels, guitarist Bill Frisell follows up not just 2020’s excellent Valentine, but also his consistent work as a sideperson and bandmate, with the new quartet record Four.

Olli Hirvonen - Kielo (Ropeadope)

10 November 2022

Though trained in jazz, with a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music, guitarist Olli Hirvonen doesn’t confine himself solely to bebop on his fourth album Kielo.

Sarah Elizabeth Charles - Blank Canvas (Ropeadope/Stretch Music)

9 November 2022

Vocalist/songwriter Sarah Elizabeth Charles exists in a creative space in between genres on her solo album Blank Canvas.

Cavanagh/Miley/Hollenbeck - Another Life (NSN Alliance)

8 November 2022

Sort of a summit of jazz professors, Another Life puts pianists and composers Dan Cavanagh and James Miley together with drummer John Hollenback to see what happens.

Timothy Norton - Visions of Phaedrus (Truth Revolution Recording Collective)

7 November 2022

Bassist and composer Timothy Norton doesn’t stint on ambition for his first album as a leader: Visions of Phaedrus is inspired by Plato’s Phaedrus.

Ezra Collective - Where I’m Meant to Be (Partisan)

4 November 2022

What’s the difference between a jazz band and a jam band?

Jakob Bro & Joe Lovano - Once Around the Room: A Tribute to Paul Motian (ECM)

3 November 2022

Legendary drummer and bandleader Paul Motian cast a long, long shadow with his eclectic work over the course of his sixty-decade career.

Tyshawn Sorey Trio + 1 - The Off-Off Broadway Guide to Synergism (Pi Recordings)

2 November 2022

The Off-Off Broadway Guide to Synergism is a masterful piece of work that reminds us that great composers still draw nourishment from their inspirations.

Bird Streets - Lagoon (Sparkle Plenty/Deko)

1 November 2022
Lagoon is no guest star-laden tilt-a-whirl – it’s John Brodeur’s vision through and through.

Hilario Durán and David Virelles - Front Street Duets (ALMA)

31 October 2022

Two generations of Cuban jazz pianists come together for Front Street Duets.

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp - Fruition (ESP-Disk’)/Ivo Perelman et al/Reed Rapture in Brooklyn (Mahakala Music)

28 October 2022

Saxophonist Ivo Perelman is one of the most prolific players in music, any music. Not only does he record frequently, but the results are often multi-disk sets.

Trevor Dunn’s Trio-Convulsant avec Folie a Quatre - Seances (Pyroclastic)

27 October 2022

Inspired equally by bebop and an eighteenth century French Christian cult, Seances puts the players through Dunn’s paces on a set of knotty, dynamic compositions with a new twist.

Arild Andersen - Affirmation (ECM)

26 October 2022

Veteran Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen is well known not only for his expert, tasteful playing, but also for his extraordinary compositions. For Affirmation, however, he’s taking a different road.

Kilbey/Kennedy - The Strange Case of Persephone Nimbus (Foghorn)

25 October 2022

The duo’s sixth LP together, The Strange Case of Persephone Nimbus is their most ambitious yet. (Just look at the cover.)

Sana Nagano - Anime Mundi (577)

24 October 2022

For Anime Mundi, Nagano strips her support down to a trio, but without stinting on the space-filling sound she essayed last time.

Ron Carter - Finding the Right Notes (In + Out)

21 October 2022

Ron Carter is undeniably one of the titans of jazz. Though best known for his stint in Miles Davis’ Second Great Quartet in the 1960s, the bassist has racked up hundreds, if not thousands, of recordings and performances with jazz musicians far and wide, including dozens of his own albums as a leader.

Whit Dickey Quartet - Root Perspectives (TAO Forms)

20 October 2022

Joined, as usual, by pianist Matthew Shipp and bassist Brandon Lopez, Dickey adds a new face to his ensemble: saxophonist Tony Malaby.

Evgueni Galperine - Theory of Becoming (ECM)

19 October 2022

Russian/Ukrainian composer *Evgueni Galperine*pulls his artistic sources from a few different areas – the advanced harmonics of Shostakovich, the dramatic tension of Tchaikovsky, the lush minimalism of Arvo Pärt – and molds it into his own distinctive point of musical view.

Lincoln Barr - Forfeit the Prize (Two Roads)

18 October 2022

Eschewing power pop, Barr looks to different, more sophisticated forms of American pop music as inspiration.

Doug Wamble - Blues in the Present Tense (Halcyonic)

17 October 2022

Guitarist Doug Wamble has always had one foot in jazz and the other in the blues, and his latest album Blues in the Present Tense continues his successful crossbreed.

Benjamin Lackner - Last Decade (ECM)

14 October 2022

Born in Berlin and based in the U.S., pianist Benjamin Lackner has led several ensembles throughout the years, including his eponymous trio.

Rick Rosato - Homage (self-released)

13 October 2022

As with the originals, the Montreal-to-New York musician keeps the performances riff- and tune-oriented, using his prodigious technique for short bursts of feeling, just like a good blues guitar solo.

Brad Marino - Basement Beat (Rum Bar)

12 October 2022

Former (?) Connection singer Brad Marino has spent the last couple of years conquering the power pop world, but for Basement Beat he’s going for something slightly different.

Dave Douglas Quintet - Songs of Ascent Books 1 & 2 (Greenleaf)

7 October 2022

There are a few reasons to be excited about Songs of Ascent, the latest project from jazz trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas.

Bobby Watson - Back Home in Kansas City (Smoke Sessions)

6 October 2022

As both a leader and a prolific session musician, alto saxophonist Bobby Watson has had a long and productive career since attending the University of Miami at the same time as Pat Metheny and Jaco Pastorious.

Maria Mendes - Saudade, Colour of Love (Challenge)

5 October 2022

Portuguese jazz singer Maria Mendes finds a distinctive blend that combines elements of her past and her present on Saudade, Colour of Love, recorded live in Amsterdam.

Taurey Butler - One of the Others (Justin Time)

4 October 2022

Born in New Jersey and based in Montreal, pianist Taurey Butler plays in a style that bespeaks a couple of other locales: New York and New Orleans.

John Escreet - Seismic Shift (Whirlwind)

3 October 2022

Amazingly for a jazz pianist, John Escreent has recorded eight previous albums, but Seismic Shift is his first with a trio.

Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables (2022 mix) (Manifesto)

30 September 2022

Originally released at the turn of the Reagan years, Dead Kennedys’ incendiary debut Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables is a certifiable American punk rock classic – no question.

William Parker - Universal Tonality (Centering)

29 September 2022

For bassist and composer William Parker, the term “universal tonality” means, simply, “if we’re all breathing together, we’re singing together.”