Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: The Owen/Cox Dance Company's "A Body of Work"


As the rest of an audience of about 100 watched five athletic dancers at La Esquina on Sunday, October 5, I studied Brad Cox as he manipulated sound at the back of the room.  I have nothing against ballet, but Cox's stunning score for The Owen/Cox Dance Group's production "A Body of Work" demanded my full attention.  Using a combination of prerecorded backing tracks, ambient beats derived from the dancers' movements, a drum machine and the live vocals of Victoria Botero, Cox crafted a compelling soundscape.  Additional percussion emanating from four hanging columns and a quadrophonic mix made the experience even more dizzying.  Cox's exceptional performance was a civilized version of the futuristic work of groundbreaking acts like Marijuana Deathsquads.


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I reviewed Tuesday's concert by Gaslight Anthem, Against Me! and Cory Branan.

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The Kronos Quartet's performance at Helzberg Hall floored me on Saturday. 

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Ikey Owens of Mars Volta has died.  Owens recently produced Various Blonde's Summer High album.

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John Holt of the Paragons has died.

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Here's a video tour of the Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven.

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Local Customs: Cavern Sound, a compilation of forgotten bands from Independence, will be released this week.  The only name that rings a bell is Morningstar, a band I hadn't thought about in at least 25 years.

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Iceage's Plowing Into the Field of Love is shockingly raw.  RIYL: The Fall, drunken stupors, the Birthday Party.  Here's "How Many".

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The video for Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's "Quail and Dumplings" is almost as good as the song.

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It's not fair to Vince Staples, but almost all I could think about as I listened to Hell Can Wait was how much I still love Earl Sweatshirt's Doris.  RIYL: OFWGKTA, Los Angeles, the Cool Kids.

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On Worker, the latest studio album by Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, the Oklahoma band veers into electronic territory.  RIYL: Soulive, acting on impulses, Galactic.

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SZA's fine new album Z is RIYL: Sade, slow motion, Frank Ocean.  "Babylon" is the best track.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Concert Review: Lalah Hathaway at KC Live


I've witnessed performances by Tony Bennett, Deborah Brown, Joyce DiDonato and Bettye LaVette this year.  Lalah Hathaway out-sang all of them at the KC Live stage in the Power & Light District on Sunday.  About 5,000 people attended the free concert.

From the vocal trickery of the Grammy-winning "Something" to the emotional histrionics of the big hit "Forever, For Always,  For Love", Hathaway's repertoire allowed her to demonstrate that she's among the best vocalists in popular music. 

Poor Ruben Studdard didn't stand a chance against Donny's daughter.  He and Hathaway shared a band.  The concert was successful in part because the needless ambient noise I complained about in my review of Eric Benét's recent concert in the same space was blessedly silenced on Sunday. 


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I reviewed the 18th & Vine Jazz & Blues Festival.

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Paul Revere has died.

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Flying Lotus's stunning new album You're Dead! is equal parts hip-hop, jazz and electronic music.

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Jason Moran's All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller RIYL: Meshell Ndegeocello, high concept, Joni Mitchell.  Here's a recast rendition of "Ain't Misbehavin'.

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It was nice to see the longtime There Stands the Glass favorite Lazerbeak support Lizzo on the Late Show with David Letterman.  (My notes on Lizzo's 2014 appearance at the RecordBar are here.)

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Mark Kozelek has jokes.

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Bill Frisell's new surf-oriented Guitar in the Space Age is RIYL: The Ventures, baby boomers, Steely Dan.

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The self-titled album by Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn is wondrous.  RIYL: banjer, Raymond Fairchild, no frills.

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My selections among the recently nominated candidates for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in order: Chic, N.W.A., Lou Reed, Kraftwerk and War.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Lou Whitney


Chuck Berry still maintained a heavy tour schedule when I became old enough to sneak into nightclubs.  What a disappointment!  The first two times I caught him, the legend was clearly going through the motions. 

Ever the glutton for punishment, I once found myself at Parody Hall to give the man another go.  Berry's demeanor shifted from contempt to delight upon recognizing the expertise of the pickup band.  That outing remains the only time I've seen Berry give a damn.  Lou Whitney and his cohorts in the Skeletons/Morells were the men responsible for inspiring Berry.

I spent several nights dancing to Whitney's bands during the next few years.  On the two or three occasions I spoke with him, he was funny and gracious.  Whitney died this week.  C.J. Janovy wrote a nice piece about the beloved Missourian. 

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Album Review: Sturgill Simpson- Metamodern Sounds in Country Music


I'm skeptical when people who wouldn't know Ray Price from Luke Bryan rave about a country artist.  Having been raised on albums by Waylon, Willie and Kris, I take it personally when jokers subvert those sounds to amuse people who look down on the form.  That's why I avoided Sturgill Simpson's fashionable Metamodern Sounds in Country Music for months.  I'm finally willing to admit that it's really good.  With lyrics that could have been written by Jimmie Dale Gilmore and production modeled on Honky Tonk Heroes, the album sends me back to my smoke-filled childhood home.


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I reviewed the Zombie Pub Crawl.

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I participated in a discussion about Kansas City's jazz scene on KCUR's Central Standard last week.

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D/Will and Stik Figa made a video for "Work".

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Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar are at their best on "Never Catch Me".

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Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood is my favorite jam band.  Juice is RIYL: Garage a Trois, outdoor festivals, Umphrey's McGee.

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It really goes without saying, but Prince's messy new Art Official Age contains about 20 minutes of brilliance.  RIYL: Controversy, freaks, Sign o' the Times.

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Yelawolf's "Till It's Gone" is one of my favorite songs of 2014.  RIYL: Lindsey Buckingham, classic rock, Tech N9ne.

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Roni Size is back.  His new album Take Kontrol is RIYL: 1997, video game soundtracks, Orbital.

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Jazz can be a chore.  It took four sessions for me to work my way through Joris Roelof's Aliens Deliberating.  RIYL: Eric Dolphy, nails on chalkboards, Ned Rothenberg.

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Everclear's spoof of U2's partnership with Apple is perfect.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Concert Review: Eric Benét at KC Live


I couldn't have imagined the sexually-charged mayhem I was about to experience when I entered Kemper Arena to see Marvin Gaye in 1983.  I've since been part of dozens of similarly fevered audiences.  It never gets old.  Sunday's free Eric Benét concert on the KC Live stage in the Power & Light District was one of the best of the type I've attended.  As Halle Berry's ex-husband crooned ballads like the sensitive "Sometimes I Cry" and the sultry "Chocolate Legs", many in the audience of 9,000 screamed deliriously.  While earsplitting, their shouts and the fine work of Benét's five-piece band competed with the canned music that blared from many of the adjacent taverns and restaurants, an inexcusable insult that's plagued concerts in the district since 2008.


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I reviewed the Preservation Hall Jazz Band's concert at the VooDoo Lounge.

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In the previous There Stands the Glass post I lamented the lack of truly great new music.  The Architects may have rescued me.  At first listen, Border Wars (Episode II) sounds magnificent.  RIYL: The Clash, rock and roll lifers, Sham 69.

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Here's Ces Cru's amusing video for "Jimmy Stewart".

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Lou Whitney, one of the greatest living Missourians, is ailing.  Here's 75 minutes of prime Morells.  (Via D.W.)

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The video for Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood's "Juicy Lucy" is solid.




(Original images by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Kendrick Conundrum


Where in tarnation is my album of the year?  I've found plenty to like but little to love among the hundreds of albums I've heard in 2014.  (Perhaps my lack of focus plays a role in this conundrum.)  I prefer the top seven titles in my year-end 2013 list in the column to the right to anything I've encountered during the past nine months.  Where's the stuff that turns my world upside down?  Kendrick Lamar's disappointing new song "i" sent me into panic mode.  C'mon Kanye.

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I reviewed concerts by Spoon and Living Colour.

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Here's the video for Josh Berwanger's "Enemies".

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Kenny Wheeler has died.

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George Hamilton IV, a staple of the Opry, has died.

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Highway Robbery, the new album by Freeway and the Jacka, is RIYL: J. Stalin, thug life, Messy Marv. The Real Rick Ross and Freddie Gibbs are in the video for "Cherry Pie".

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Jerry Douglas, Rob Ickes and the late Mike Auldridge sound great on The Three Bells.  RIY:: dobro, Gene Wooten, pickin' and grinnin'. 

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Goat's formula- equal parts the Doors, the Velvet Underground, Tinariwen and Toumani Diabaté- is irresistible on Commune.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Concert Review: Brother Ali at the Granada


I went to a hip-hop concert and an Occupy Wall Street rally broke out.  Lacking a backpack filled with spray paint and Howard Zinn tracts, I felt a bit more out of place than usual at the Granada on Sunday.

Backed only by DJ Last Word, Brother Ali, Bambu and Mally performed over two hours of old-school hip-hop for the 100 or so people who had ponied up $15 to gain entry.

Ali explained that he embarked on a tour without a new album or promotional support in an effort to reconnect with his real fans.  He added that he selected his tour mates partly because they were good fathers to their children.  The Minneapolis rapper is so painfully sincere that I had to take him at his word.  Coming from most anyone else, the assertions would have seemed like weak rationalizations for the pitiful turnout.

Long one of my favorite MCs, Ali performed most of his best known material, from the scathing political attack "Uncle Sam Goddamn" ("Obama is killing people with drones") to the self-esteem anthem "Forest Whitiker" ("you ain't gotta love me").  A rap about raising children in the aftermath of the Mike Brown incident was the clear highlight of the evening.

The contradictory messages espoused by Los Angeles' Bambu irritated me so much that I considered giving him a piece of my mind after the show.  Minneapolis' Mally was likable enough.  The trio issued an informal performance of "Home Away" earlier this week.


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I reviewed a concert by the Flaming Lips and Electric Würms.

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The video for Kansas City Bear Fighters '"You're In Kansas" is clever.  (Via Tony's Kansas City.)

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Here's the video for Farout's "Bittersweet".

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Marc Myers' remembrance of Joe Sample is invaluable.

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Howard Reich reports on Steve Coleman's genius grant.

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Polar Bear is better on paper than on headphones.  In Each and Every One is RIYL: Radiohead, jazz for people who don't like jazz, the Pat Metheny Group.  Here's "Life and Life".

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Cold Specks' Neuroplasticity is another album I'm supposed to like.  I loathe it.  RIYL: Patti Smith, "Art", Neneh Cherry.  Here's "Absisto".

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Steve Arrington continues to funk everything up.

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From the Why Didn't Any of You Jerks Tell Me About This Department- GoGo Penguin's excellent v2.0 is RIYL: Esbjörn Svensson Trio, European jazz, the Bad Plus.  "Hopopono" is a representative track.

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The Mark Turner Quartet's Lathe of Heaven looks promising.

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Donnie McClurkin's Duets is RIYL: Sunday mornings, the Winans, clapping.

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Bahamas' Bahamas is Afie is RIYL: Jimmie Spheeris, lite rock, Dan Fogelberg.

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Death Metal Angola.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)