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The Big Takeover Issue #90

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.

Todd Marcus Jazz Orchestra - In the Valley (Stricker Street)

28 June 2022

Composer Todd Marcus has two things that immediately set him apart: he’s one of the very few bandleaders to focus on the bass clarinet as his main instrument, and he draws on his Egyptian American heritage for textures not usually found in the jazz idiom.

Righteous Fool - s/t (Ripple Music)

27 June 2022

The brainchild of the late drummer and Corrosion of Conformity co-founder Reed Mullin and HR guitarist Jason Browning, Righteous Fool added Mullin’s erstwhile COC bandmate Mike Dean on bass during the stoner punk icons’ hiatus, and Righteous Fool was born.

Fabulous - Get Fucked By Fabulous (Supermegabot/Slovenly)

24 June 2022

Unless you were a dedicated reader of the British music press circa 1991-1993, you’ve probably never heard of Fabulous.

Joey Alexander - Origin (Mack Avenue)

23 June 2022

A mere eighteen years old, pianist Joey Alexander already has five albums, three Grammy nominations and performances for two presidents on his resumé. Origin earns a special place in his discography, however.

Caleb Nichols - Ramon (Kill Rock Stars)

22 June 2022

Is Ramon a thoughtful, intricate study of queer relationships in twenty-first century culture, or is it just an excellent pop record? The answer, unsurprisingly, is both.

NYO Jazz - We’re Still Here (Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute)

21 June 2022

An outgrowth of the lauded National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, NYO Jazz is, obviously, the organization’s jazz outreach arm, recruiting hardworking and prodigious 16-19 year olds to keep the flame of one of America’s greatest contributions to culture burning.

Keith Hall - Made in Kalamazoo (Trios and Duos) (Zoom Out)

20 June 2022

Drummer Keith Hall has a diverse resumé: Betty Carter, Sir Roland Hanna, Kenny Wheeler, Janis Siegel, New York Voices, TRI-FI and several years with singer/saxophonist Curtis Stigers.

Wild Up - Julius Eastman, Vol. 2: Boy Joy (New Amsterdam)

17 June 2022

The second in a planned seven-volume series dedicated to Eastman’s compositions, particularly those not performed in his lifetime, Julius Eastman, Vol. 2: Boy Joy showcases the earmarks of the composer’s style.

Stephen Philip Harvey Jazz Orchestra - Smash! (Next Level)

16 June 2022

Though music eventually overtook his interest in superheroics, his childhood infatuation remains a creative inspiration.

Payton MacDonald, Billy Martin, Elliott Sharp & Colin Stetson - Void Patrol (Infrequent Seams)

15 June 2022

Void Patrol combines the talents of saxophonist Colin Stetson, guitarist/electronicist Elliott Sharp and Medeski Martin & Wood drummer Billy Martin, at the behest of Alarm Will Sound percussionist Payton MacDonald.

Vadim Neselovskyi - Odesa: A Musical Walk Through a Legendary City (Sunnyside)

14 June 2022

The Berklee-trained musician blends his two disciplines – jazz and classical – into a series of musical poems paying tribute to Odesa’s landmarks and historical occurrences alike.

Pasqualo Grasso - Be-Bop! (Sony Masterworks)

13 June 2022

Grasso continues his journey through pre-hard bop jazz with Be-Bop!, concentrating on the work of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.

Roxy Music - Siren/Manifesto (half-speed vinyl remasters) (Virgin)

10 June 2022

Four albums in, Roxy Music was about to enter its most commercially successful phase – but with a twist.

Billy Mohler - Anatomy (Contagious Music)

9 June 2022
Mohler and company make it all sound so easy – it’s clear that these musicians are comfortable with each other and trust their leader.

Chet Baker Trio - Live in Paris: The Radio France Recordings 1983-1984 (Elemental Music)

8 June 2022

Though more for completists than casual Baker fans, Live in Paris is a worthy addition to the Baker catalog.

The Dirty Truckers - The Tisbury Joneser (Rum Bar)

7 June 2022

Singer/songwriter Tom Baker knows how to make loud, roots-informed, bar band rock & roll tunes that catch your ear, nod your head and, when you’re not looking, tear up your eye.

Charles Mingus - The Lost Album From Ronnie Scott’s (Resonance)

6 June 2022

Anyone even slightly familiar with jazz knows that Charles Mingus was a genius.

Frank Sinatra - Watertown (UMe)

3 June 2022

When Watertown first came out in 1970, Frank Sinatra fans didn’t know what to make of it – which, in retrospect, seems odd.

J. Peters Schwalm & Stephan Thelen - Transneptunian Planets (RareNoise)

2 June 2022

Though German composer, musician and sound designer J. Peter Schwalm and Swiss guitarist, composer and Sonar bandleader Stephan Thelen are well known for their consistent journeys into the outer limits, somehow the pair have not collaborated until now.

The Clams - The Complete Clams/Cindy Lawson - New Tricks (Rum Bar)

1 June 2022

Considering the embarrassment of riches that was the Minneapolis alternative rock scene in the eighties and nineties, it was inevitable that some cool acts would get lost in the shuffle. Enter the Clams.

Will Bernard - Pond Life (Dreck to Disk)

31 May 2022

As Pond Life, his seventh album as a leader, proves, when given his head he’s very much a notable creative force.

Thomas Dollbaum - Wellwood (Big Legal Mess)

30 May 2022

A master carpenter with a master’s in poetry, singer/songwriter Thomas Dollbaum does indeed keep one foot in the real world and the other in the ephemeral on his debut Wellwood.

Nduduzo Makhathini - In the Spirit of Ntu (Blue Note Africa)

27 May 2022

A beloved icon at home, South African jazz pianist Nduduzo Makhathini made a big splash outside of his country last year with Modes of Communication: Letters From the Underworlds. He follows it up with the even stronger In the Spirit of Ntu, a record that’s one of the best blends of jazz and African music this side of Randy Weston.

Blue Heron - Ephemeral (Seeing Red/Kozmik Artifactz)

27 May 2022

Rumbling out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, stoner rockers Blue Heron makes a strong impression on their debut LP Ephemeral.

David Virelles - Nuna (Pi Recordings)

26 May 2022

The songs on Nuna encompass a State of the Piano recital.

Martin Bejerano - #CubanAmerican (Figgland)

26 May 2022

For his fourth album #CubanAmerican, Miami pianist Martin Bejerano continues his quest to infuse his father’s Cuban heritage with North American jazz.

Steve Davis - Bluesthetic (Smoke Sessions)

25 May 2022

For his latest album Bluesthetic, trombonist/composer Steve Davis recruits a gang of old friends, many of whom he’s been playing with for decades.

The Jazz All Stars - Vol. 2 (Le Coq)/Chicago Soul Jazz Collective - On the Way to Be Free (JMarq)

16 May 2022

In the jazz world, it’s not unusual for players of a certain caliber and renown to assemble for supersessions. Minus the hype it would bring in the rock and pop worlds, these kinds of sessions can often be relaxed affairs featuring old and new friends, united by love of the music and mutual respect.

Roxy Music - Stranded/Country Life vinyl reissues (Virgin)

13 May 2022

Roxy Music’s groundbreaking first two albums would be hard to follow up by anyone, let alone the band that created them.

Jacob Garchik - Assembly (Yestereve)

12 May 2022

Outside of some fusion groups, there aren’t that many jazz artists that use the studio and its gear as an instrument. On Assembly, his seventh album, trombonist Jacob Garchik and his band of trusty sidekicks aim to change that.

Jonathan Barber & Vision Ahead - Poetic (self-released)

11 May 2022

A veteran of ensembles led by trombonist Steve Davis, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and saxophonists Julieta Eugenio and JD Allen, drummer Jonathan Barber also leads his own band, Vision Ahead.

Oded Tzur - Isabela (ECM)

11 May 2022

Born in Tel Aviv, reborn through the sonic mantra of Indian ragas, and born again in New York City, saxophonist Oded Tzur explores the cosmopolitan nature of spiritual jazz on his fourth album Isabela.

Eucalyptus - Moves (Telephone Explosion)

10 May 2022

Armed with eight players, a widescreen compositional vision and a propensity toward musical freedom, Toronto ensemble Eucalyptus gets busy the moment “Infinity Bananas,” the first track on the band’s sixth album Moves, begins its spin.

Chase Elodia - Portrait Imperfect (Biophilia)

10 May 2022

Drummer and composer Chase Elodia spent the pandemic reading books on media theory, which lead to his debut album Portrait Imperfect.

Chris Church - Darling Please (Big Stir)

9 May 2022

Church made Darling Please alone in his basement following the death of his beloved brother and bandmate Mike, a terrible occurrence that drenches the songs in bruised emotion, whether or not they directly address the situation.

Ches Smith - Interpret It Well (Pyroclastic)

6 May 2022
If COVID broke the eggs, Interpret It Well is the omelet made from the results.

Kalia Vandever - Regrowth (New Amsterdam)

5 May 2022

Joined by guitarist/producer Lee Meadvin, bassist Nick Dunston, pianist Paul Cornish and drummer Connor Parks, Vandever unfolds her pieces at a deliberate pace, never jumping straight in, but never letting lanquidity take over.

John Scofield - s/t (ECM)

4 May 2022

Though he’s been recording albums under his own name since 1978 (and as a sideman since 1974), guitarist John Scofield, astonishingly, has never recorded an album of unaccompanied guitar.

Whit Dickey Quartet - Astral Long Form: Staircase in Space (TAO Forms)

3 May 2022

The loosely linked quintet of songs explore space, as indicated by the title, but it’s not just the cosmic variety.

Benji Kaplan - Something Here Inside (Wise Cat)

2 May 2022

Something Here Inside is a warm love letter to the Great American Songbook.

Miles Okazaki’s Trickster Quartet - Thisness (Pi Recordings)

29 April 2022

Faced with only the loosest of structures, the musicians used their improvisatory skills and deep understanding of their partnership to create songs that ebb and flow like water over the ocean bed, seemingly shifting at random, but in reality following an internal logic.

Detective - s/t (ORG Music)

28 April 2022

One of the many journeyman supergroups populating the arena rock circuit in the 1970s, Detective never quite found the success it deserved.

Bill Evans - Morning Glory/Inner Spirit (Resonance)

28 April 2022

Presented in Resonance’s usual sterling packages, with extensively researched booklets in each, both Morning Glory and Inner Spirit are musts for any Bill Evans fan.

Erik Friedlander - A Queens' Firefly (Skipstone)

27 April 2022

Cellist Erik Friedlander has been out front of the vanguard of his instrument’s potential for decades.

Eri Yamamoto/William Parker/Steve Hirsh/Chad Fowler - Sparks (Mahakala Music)

26 April 2022

Pianist Eri Yamamoto, bassist William Parker, drummer Steve Hirsh and woodwindist Chad Fowler congregated to cut loose and see what happened, and what happened was remarkable.

Video premiere: "These patterns" by Jerome Begin & David Friend

26 April 2022

One of the finest records released so far in 2022, Post- is a collaboration between two stalwarts of twenty-first century contemporary classical music: pianist David Friend and composer Jerome Begin.

Kind Folk - Head Towards the Center (Fresh Sound New Talent)

25 April 2022

Named in tribute to late trumpeter Kenny Wheeler (after a Wheeler tune from the album Angel Song), Kind Folk has grown into a formidable force.

Bleeding Hearts - Riches to Rags (Bar/None/Fiasco)

22 April 2022

Unsurprisingly, Riches to Rags sounds a lot like mid-eighties Replacements, with melodic songs, bar band energy, Leonard’s whiskey-toned rasp and Stinson’s distinctive hard pop flash guitar.

Michael Leonhardt Orchestra - The Normyn Suites (Sunnyside)

21 April 2022

We can’t say for sure how multi-instrumentalist, composer and bandleader Michael Leonhardt felt when his fifteen-year-old dachshund Normyn passed away. But on his latest album The Normyn Suites, he’s trying to tell us.