Monday, April 24, 2017

Dessicated


Do I look tired to you?   I feel compelled to leave a few notes in this space before I embark on a recuperative respite south of the border.


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I reviewed a concert by Dan + Shay for The Kansas City Star on Friday.

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I attended concerts by Bill Frisell and Jack DeJohnette on Saturday.  My impressions are published at Plastic Sax.

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I reviewed Quality Hill Playhouse’s production of “As Time Goes By” on Sunday.

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Look for new rounds of my weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine here.

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Hyborian’s Vol. 1 is my favorite Kansas City metal album in recent memory.

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Spoek Mathambo’s Mzansi Beat Code is allegedly only 58 minutes long.  I don’t believe it.  Brimming with hundreds of fresh ideas, the project feels as if it lasts several hours. Albums don’t often stump me, but I’m overwhelmed by Mzansi Beat Code.

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I don’t appreciate Joey Bada$$’s insurrectionary Land of the Free nearly as much as a few of my pals.  RIYL: Noam Chomsky, A$AP Rocky, Amy Goodman.

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I’ve been waiting for pianist Christian Sands to make an album as solid as Reach.  RIYL: Christian McBride, promise realized, Gerald Clayton.

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Rhymesayers uploaded footage of a 2007 Atmosphere concert at First Avenue.  Here’s  ”God Loves Ugly”.  As longtime readers of There Stands the Glass know, I can’t get enough of that stuff.

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Damn gets better with each listen.  If you’re not already on board, the video for ”DNA” is a good entry point.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Concert Review: Salif Keita at Town Hall

I was disappointed when I checked the live music listings after I snagged a cheap flight to New York City.  No Henry Threadgill.  No Cecil Taylor.  Not even Wadada Leo Smith would be playing while I’d be in town.

During my previous trip to New York City, I heard Joyce DiDonato light up Carnegie Hall (my review) and sat a few feet from Dave Douglas, Lee Konitz, Matt Mitchell, Linda Oh and Ches Smith at the Jazz Standard (my review). While I experienced nothing quite as momentous on my visit earlier this month, I didn’t go wanting.

I heard the artist known as the Golden Voice of Africa perform for hundreds of Malians in a historic venue built by suffragettes.  It was a quintessential New York City experience.  I uploaded a snippet to Instagram.  Super-fan Banning Eyre reviewed the concert for Afropop Worldwide.


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I reviewed a concert by In This Moment, Motionless In White, Avatar and Gemini Syndrome for
The Kansas City Star.

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I wrote an extended concert preview about Mastodon for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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My weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine are here and here.

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I named Alicia Solo KCUR’s Band of the Week.

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I laud Kansas City’s new lounge band Agora at Plastic Sax.

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Allan Holdsworth has died.  Feels Good To Me might be the last prog/fusion album I enjoyed before the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and the Clash changed my outlook.

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Orchestra Baobab’s Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng is the leading candidate to be my all-purpose album of the summer. My next-door neighbors have already heard it twice as I’ve worked in my driveway.  RIYL: life, Buena Vista Social Club, love.  Here’s ”Foulo”.  (Tip via Big Steve.)

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Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng is light and breezy, but Vieux Farka Touré‘s Samba is loud and brassy.  RIYL: 1970s’s-era Carlos Santana, dancing, Ali Farka Touré.  Here’s ”Homafu Wawa”.

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Damn isn’t To Pimp a Butterfly or Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.  So what?  It’s still essential.  Kendrick Lamar remains the #rapmessiah.  Here’s ”DNA”.

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I’ve always loved Decoy.  Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah successfully updates the 1980s sound of Miles Davis on Ruler Rebel.

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Rodney Crowell’s Close Ties is a mishmash of great and cringe-worthy- songs.  ”Nashville 1972” is both.

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Howard Shore’s Two Concerti, ably played by Lang Lang, is a noble failure.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Concert Review: Chris Brown at the Sprint Center


Chris Brown is still a jerk.  I was considering rejoining #teambreezy when I purchased a $30 cheap seat for the infamous star’s return to the Sprint Center on Tuesday.  My potential change of heart was completely thwarted three hours later when the spectacle concluded with a series of resounding explosions.  With no corresponding visual effects, the gratuitous blasts seemed specifically intended to damage the eardrums of fans.

On stage about an hour, Brown sparingly doled out his brilliant talent.  Even so, he remains equal parts Michael Jackson and Rick James.

An elaborate production that incorporated a few of the most appealing elements of the recent stage shows of Drake and Kanye West made me feel as if my $30 ticket was a bargain.  I just wish I’d left five minutes before the show ended.

Aaron Randle reviewed the concert for The Kansas City Star.


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I wrote an extended concert preview about John Mayer for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I named Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle KCUR’s Band of the Week.

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John Geils Jr. has died.  I sold and marketed Geils’ solo blues projects in the 1990s.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Concert Review: Lawrence Brownlee and Eric Owens at the Folly Theater


Lawrence Brownlee’s powerful singing and enthralling emoting impressed me as I sat in the rear balcony of Carnegie Hall two years ago.  When I discovered that I could secure front row seats for my cousin’s April 6 show at the Folly Theater at an 80% discount, I jumped at the deal offered by the Harriman-Jewell series.  I was rewarded for my nominal investment with my favorite show of 2017 to date.  Yet it was Brownlee’s fellow opera star Eric Owens who I most appreciated during the program of arias, Great American Songbook tunes and gospel selections.  Less flashy but more stirring than Brownlee, Owens reduced me to tears as he delivered “Give Me Jesus.”  Jovial duets on uptempo selections like the ridiculous “Dolores” caused my face to ache from smiling so strenuously.  Libby Hanssen reviewed the concert for The Kansas City Star.


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I reviewed Kris Kristofferson’s return to the Uptown Theater for The Kansas City Star.

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I reviewed Judah & the Lion’s concert at the Uptown Theater for The Kansas City Star.

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I wrote extended concert previews about Radiohead and Chris Brown for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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My latest rounds of weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine are here and here.

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I recently designated Second Hand King and Katy Guillen & the Girls KCUR’s Band of the Week.

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Donny McCaslin floored me at the Folly Theater on Friday.  My notes are at Plastic Sax.

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I did some work with Lonnie Brooks in the 1990s.  The Chicago blues artist was a warm, generous man.  Brooks died last week.

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Until I read his obituaries, I didn’t know that Arthur Blythe was married to the one-time Kansas City based vocalist and actress Queen Bey.

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“I took my roof off at the red light!”  I’m not too proud to admit that I can’t get enough of Rick Ross’ noxious Rather You Than Me.  Here’s ”Trap Trap Trap”.

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I ordinarily don’t have much patience for newly recorded mainstream jazz albums.  Heads of State’s All in One is an exception.  The septuagenarian saxophonist Gary Bartz is in top form.

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Raekwon’s The Wild may be the strongest album by a Wu-Tang Clan member other than Ghostface of the last five years.  Here’s ”This Is What It Comes To”.

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F*cked Up’s “Year of the Snake” has restored my faith in 23-minute songs.  RIYL: MC5, kicking out the jams, Dwarves.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Quarterly Report


I’m embarking on a brief blogging break.  Before I get out of Dodge, I’ll leave you with three arbitrary lists.

My Ten Favorite Concerts of 2017 (so far)
1. Charlie Wilson, Fantasia and Johnny Gill- Sprint Center
2. Jazz 100 featuring Danilo Pérez, Lizz Wright and Avishai Cohen- Yardley Hall
3. Joseph- Madrid Theatre
4. Patti LaBelle- Muriel Kauffman Theatre
5. Ramsey Lewis- Gem Theater
6. Ben Folds with the Kansas City Symphony- Helzberg Hall
7. Gaelynn Lea- Folk Alliance International Conference at Crown Center
8. Jessica Care Moore- Black Archives of Mid-America
9. Pure Disgust- Encore Room
10. Simone Porter- Folly Theater

My Ten Favorite Songs of 2017 (so far)
1. Calvin Harris featuring Frank Ocean and Migos- “Slide”
2. Valerie June- “Astral Plane”
3. Sunny Sweeney- “Bottle by My Bed”
4. Craig Finn- “God in Chicago”
5. Lorde- “Liability”
6. Young Fathers- “Only God Knows”
7. Alejandro Fernandez- “Agridulce”
8. José James- “To Be With You”
9. Brother Ali- “Own Light (What Hearts Are For)”
10. Chronixx- “Majesty”

My Ten Favorite Albums of 2017 (so far)
1. Miguel Zenón- Tipico
2. Tinariwen- Elwan
3. Yelena Eckemoff- Blooming Tall Phlox
4. Future- Hndrxx
5. Uniform- Wake in Fright
6. Mark Eitzel- Hey Mr. Ferryman
7. Víkingur Ólafsson- Philip Glass: Piano Works
8. Code Orange- Forever
9. Ibibio Sound Machine- Uyai
10. Noah Preminger- Meditations on Freedom



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I reviewed Rodney Crowell’s appearance at Knuckleheads.

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I reviewed Patti LaBelle’s concert at Muriel Kauffman Theatre.

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I reviewed the Jazz 100 concert at Yardley Hall at Plastic Sax.

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I discussed Victor & Penny on my weekly segment for KCUR.

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I wrote an extended preview of Xenia Rubinos’ concert for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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Craig Finn’s We All Want the Same Things is a mixed bag.  The standout tracks are “God in Chicago” and “Jester & June.”

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Tedeschi Trucks is my all-time favorite jam band.  Here’s a ten-minute interpretation of ”Keep On Growing" from Live From the Fox Oakland.

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Havok’s Conformicide is RIYL Megadeth, political metal, Revocation.  Here’s ”Intention to Deceive”.

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Spoon’s Hot Thoughts and Sinkane’s Life & Livin’ It could be the first and second discs of the same sprawling modern pop album.  RIYL: dancing, the Isley Brothers, fun.

(Original image of Charlie Wilson, Johnny Gill and band by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Chuck Berry, 1926-2017


Prior to buying The Great Twenty-Eight as a new release in 1982, I thought of Chuck Berry as the guy responsible for the novelty hit “My Ding-a-Ling.”  The compilation rectified that misleading impression.  The euphoric aggressiveness of Berry’s earth-shaking songs was of a piece with a few of my other favorite albums of 1982, including the Clash’s Combat Rock and George Clinton’s Computer Games.

I attended my first Berry concert a year or two later.   It was terrible.  He was clearly going through the motions.  Yet I didn’t give up.  My persistence paid off the third or fourth time I saw Berry.  Lou Whitney and his cohorts in the Skeletons and the Morells acted as Berry’s backing band at Parody Hall in Kansas City.

Fondly remembered in these parts as ”the best bar band ever”, the quality of Whitney’s group clearly surprised Berry.  The legend became increasingly elated as his exceptional pickup band survived each of his challenges.  Against his contrary inclinations, Berry went all-in on that memorable night.  I never saw him try half as hard again.  Berry died yesterday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Juke


Rather than shedding tears of grief upon learning of the death of the aged blues harmonica titan James Cotton yesterday, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for living during an era that enabled me to catch multiple performances by the luminary.  I first witnessed Cotton at the original incarnation of Antone’s in Austin. I heard him for the last time at the Uptown Theater in 2011.  Thanks to the blues scare of the late 1980s and early 1990s, I also attended plenty of gigs by John Lee Hooker, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Rogers, Albert Collins, B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Honeyboy Edwards, Koko Taylor, Johnny Copeland, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Z.Z. Hill and many other since-departed giants.  The blues was alright.


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I reviewed last night’s outstanding concert by Charlie Wilson, Fantasia and Johnny Gill at the Sprint Center.

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I reviewed Ben Folds’ concert with the Kansas City Symphony.

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I reviewed the Quality Hill Playhouse production “Unchained Melody.”

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I named Everette DeVan the KCUR Band of the Week.

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I wrote an extended concert preview about Ariana Grande for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I reviewed the one-man play Live Bird at Plastic Sax.

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Evan Johns has died.

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Joni Sledge has died.

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Tommy LiPuma has died.

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New albums by the Kansas City based artists Samantha Fish, Hermon Mehari and Matt Otto were released today.

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The heavy Kansas City rock band Hyborian is off to an auspicious start with ”As Above, So Below”.

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Based on the stellar quality of the three advance tracks from Valerie June’s new album The Order of Time, I was hoping for a modern-day Astral Weeks.  It’s not even close.  The remainder of The Order of Time is merely good.  RIYL: Van Morrison, celestial boogie, Iris DeMent.

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I thought I’d outgrown 1980s college rock, but the Rolling Blackouts' The French Press makes me swoon in spite of myself.  RIYL: The Windbreakers, 1985,  the Go-Betweens.  Here’s ”Julie’s Place”.

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Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives’ Way Out West is a showcase for guitarist Kenny Vaughan.  RIYL: Dick Dale, spaghetti westerns, Marty Robbins.  Here’s the title track.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)