Song of the Day, And How

As well as a strong early candidate for “local number of the year.”

Dan Pugach Nonet’s debut, Plus One (Unit Records) includes an inspired remake of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” with a vocal by Nicole Zuraitis and an arrangement that at once transform and preserve the musical and emotional landscape of the work. Highly recommended.

(And I was deeply out to lunch to not know about Zuraitis — though a couple other performances here are more artsy-intellectual than “Jolene”.)

First 2017 Year-End Disc — “Related Internationals”


  1. David Lopato, “Ladrang”
  2. Joyce/Dori Caymmi, “Joaozinho Boa Pinta”
  3. Hermeto Pascoal, “Mavumvavumpefoco”
  4. Pandang Food Tigers, “Barely a Breath In Your Parenthesis”
  5. Sabrina Malheiros, “Em Paz”
  6. Miguel Zenon, “Academia”
  7. Lila Downs, “Urge”
  8. Anat Cohen/Marcello Goncalves,“Otra Coisa”
  9. Rudesh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition, “Alap”/”Snap”
  10. Amjad Ali Khan/Amaan Ali Bangash/AyaanAli Bangash/Elmira Darvarova, “Gentle Sunset” (Raga Marwa)

The Soundtrack That Was Supposed To Have Sustained Me in NYC

  1. Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet, Landfall (Nonesuch — coming out Feb. 16)
  2. Courtney Barnett/Kurt Vile, Lotta Sea Lice (Matador, etc.)
  3. Kit Downes, Obsidian (ECM — coming out January 19)
  4. Vijay Iyer Sextet, Far From Over (ECM) — which I didn’t put on my Top Jazz lists only because I figured everybody else would.
  5. Jaguares, [45] (BIKO/EMI, 2008) — these guys gave one of the most overwhelming shows D & I ever saw (saying something), and I happened to find out we did not have this, their last record to date.
  6. Khruangbin, Con Todo El Mundo (Night Time Stories). Poised, transcendent peace centered on voices.
  7. Populous, Night Safari (Bad Panda). See the Dean’s comments.
  8.  Steven Wilson, To The Bone (Caroline). Porcupine Tree guy mixes pop and progressive brilliantly. Prize winner in UK, strong cult figure in US. Hey, he had me with a song called “People Who Eat Darkness,” after the unbeatable, nonfiction murder mystery set in Japan.


End of an Era for Cuneiform

One of my all-time favorite labels.  Intelligent, experimental, all high-quality even on the rare occasion the music wasn’t my thing. Thanks to all — esp. ace publicist Joyce — for generous promotional material and enlightening sounds for many years.

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R.I.P.: Roswell Rudd

Now playing, one of my favorites — Blown Bone.

Let’s start by talking about the Bone. I grew up thinking of it as cartoonish, almost a novelty instrument, not least because of the peculiar motions made playing it. Then one of the smartest kids I knew in high school turned out to be easily the best trombone player. He was quite articulate explaining the difficulty of getting the positions right, quickly, and though he was deeply reserved, even inexpressive, he sounded downright soulful on the horn.

Later when I had moved to Cambridge and was starting to explore jazz, I picked up Flexible Flyer as my initial taste of Rudd. (Believe it was the first time I heard Sheila Jordan, as well.) About the third time through it was BLAMMO — this guy has a voice and a half. It’s there on the French Horn, but he was born for the Bone. Played him two or three times every year. I recommend especially the other items I have on vinyl — Everywhere (1966); Inside Job (1976); Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, Play Numatik Swing Band (Composed and Conducted by Roswell Rudd) (1973).


Excellent obit with especially fine music selections.

NPR Jazz Critics Poll 2017

The results are in.

My selections were a lot closer to the second 10 choices …

Best New Releases

Various, Celebrate Ornette (Song X)
Tim Berne’s Snakeoil, Incidentals (ECM)
Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan, Small Town (ECM)
Wadada Leo Smith, Najwa (TUM)
Paul Jones, Clean (Outside Music)
J.D. Allen, Radio Flyer (Savant)
Wadada Leo Smith, Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk (TUM)
Ron Miles, I Am a Man (Yellowbird)
Kirk Knuffke, Cherryco (SteepleChase)
Greg Abate, Road To Forever (Whaling City Sound)
Reissues or Historical
The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane: Turiyasangitananda (Luaka Bop)
Thelonious Monk Quintet, Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960 (soundtrack) (Sam/Saga)
Best Vocal
Dominique Eade/Ran Blake, Town and Country (Sunnyside)
Best Debut
Jaime Branch, Fly or Die (International Anthem)
Best Latin
Miguel Zenon, Tipico (Miel Music)