What We’re Listening to This Week
Jeffrey St. Clair
Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Functional Arrythmias (Pi Recordings, 2013)
Free funk at its most cerebral, which doesn’t mean that these abstracted grooves won’t make you want to swing your ass off. Chicago alto phenom Steve Coleman, once hailed as the next Charlie Parker, proves himself on this pulsating recording to be something of a hybrid of Ornette Coleman and that other Parker, a fellow named Maceo.
Zara McFarlane: If You Knew Her (Brownswood / Kartell, 2014)
In a musically deflated era when Diana Krall is considered a notable jazz singer, it’s arresting to come across the real thing. Zara McFarland, a British virtuoso of Jamaican descent, has a voice as nuanced as Dinah Washington and as soulful as Mary Wells. This incandescent record throbs with the after hours rhythms of the Caribbean night. Her cover of Junior Murvin’s “Police and Thieves” is a masterpiece of musical concision.
Lone Justice: This Is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes, 1983, (Omnivore , 2014)
For a brief moment in the early 1980s, the feisty cowpunk of Lone Justice seemed poised to inaugurate a fresh (and much desired) new current in American music. A year later the LA-based group was kaput, fatally riven by internal tensions. But these demo tapes and early live recordings capture the raw, brash and cocky sound of a band, fronted by the riveting Maria McKee, who thought they just might conquer the world.
Jeffrey St. Clair once played two-chord guitar in a garage band in Naptown called The Empty Suits.
Linton Kwesi Johnson, In Concert with the Dub Band, 1985 (LKJ Records, 1985)
Poetry, radical politics and dub rhythm. What else do you want, man?
Beachwood Sparks, Desert Skies (Alive Naturalsound Records, 2013)
Psychedelic ear candy recorded in the 1990s (released last year) by the West Coast’s greatest cosmic country band.
Point Blank, Second Season, (Arista Records, 2006)
You may write off the Lone Star State, but don’t write off Texas’ own guitar slinging Point Blank. Straight up bar room blues rock, just as boozy and sublime as a hot summer night in Waco.
Joshua Frank is managing editor of CounterPunch.
Ethiopiques Volume 13: Ethiopian Groove (Buda Musique, 2003)
Bardo Pond – Lapsed (Matador, 1997)
Warren Zevon – Excitable Boy (Asylum, 1990)
Kristen Kolb writes the Daydream Nation column for CounterPunch magazine.
Louie Vega and Elements of Life: Eclipse (Fania, 2013)
Dierks Bentley: Home (Capitol, 2012)
Eric B and Rakim: Follow the Leader (Geffen, 2005)
Lee Ballinger co-edits Rock and Rap Confidential.
La Caita…a somewhat reclusive flamenco singer featured in Tony Gatlif’s film on Roma culture, “Latcho Drom (Safe Journey)”. Here’s a clip of her in the movie, beyond that there’s little out there which is a great shame.
Koudede: Guitars from Agadez Vol 7 on the wonderful Sublime Frequencies Label in Seattle. Highly influential Tuareg singer and guitarist who sadly died in a road accident last year. Parallels the fuzzed-out hill country blues of RL Burnside etc. Available here.
Sally Timms is a singer, songwriter and member of The Mekons. Her most recent solo record is ‘World of Him.‘ She lives in Chicago.
John Stetch: Off with the Cuffs (Addo records, 2014)
This recording marks the extraordinary jazz pianist’s always imaginative and often irreverent encounters with beloved keyboard works of Mozart, Bach, Chopin, and Shostakovich, along with polyrhythmic rag thrown in as a coda.
David Yearsley once played the world’s oldest piano and didn’t damage it … much.
Kevin Alexander Gray
Les McCann & Eddie Harris: Swiss Movement (Atlantic, 1969)
The Patti Smith Group: Radio Ethiopia (Arista, 1976)
A little of this, a little of that…
Suzanne Vega, Jenny Scheinman, Tracy Chapman.
Becky Grant is CounterPunch’s business manager.
Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding (Columbia, 1967)
Jorma Kaukonen and Tom Hobson: Quah (Sbme, 1974)
Muddy Waters: Electric Mud (Chess, 1968)
Ron Jacobs’ book on the Seventies, Daydream Sunset, will published by CounterPunch this summer.