Playlist: January 9, 2013

First time on the air since August.  A two-hour show, lots of fun as usual, and piled with albums recently reviewed on here.

Among the discoveries in KZSU rotation this time:

  • I hadn’t yet heard William Parker’s Essense of Ellington. Wow. It’s an Ellington tribute, obviously, played live by a big band that packs a serious punch, swings like hell, and of course adds some out-there soloing and some crazed moments (free-improv duet phases, for instance). “Take the A Train” evolves out of a seemingly unrelated, hard-digging riff; just as you’re settling into the riff’s swing, up comes the “A-Train” melody. Serious fun.
  • I liked what I heard from the new Weasel Walter, Mary Halvorson, and Peter Evans collaboration, Broken Toy. Offbeat composing made even more prickly by the trio. They’ve got a good sound going.
  • Chris Forsythe is in there as my way of promoting his in-studio appearance at KZSU: Sunday, Jan. 13, 6:00-7:00 p.m. Pacific time. Did I mention that before? No? Well, it’s happening, the day after his appearance at Berkeley Arts. He’ll bring his solo guitar act, his gorgeous shimmering images of blues/psych waves pulsing outward in slow motion, to our inner sanctum. Tune in at

The full playlist is on Zookeeper (KZSU’s music database), or, what the heck, here it is in full. Album titles link to Zookeeper entries (indicated by the little “i” boxes) or to entries on this blog.

Artist Track Album/Label
Yao, John Quintet In The Now Album Review In The Now
Innova Recordings

Goldberg, Ben Habituary Speech Communication
Klare, Jan Vamp Album Review Shoe
Red Toucan
Johnston, Darren Broken Edge of the Forest
Clean Feed

Coleman, Ornette School Days Broken Shadows
Shuffle Demons, The Shanghai Shuffle Album Review Cluster Funk

New Monsters Mirror Earth New Monsters
Walter / Halvorson / Evans Broken Toy Album Review Mechanical Malfunction
Thirsty Ear Communication
Formanek, Michael Pong Small Places

Romus, Rent / Lords Of Outland If Ornette Grew Cacti Album Review Thee Unhip
9 Winds Records
— (11:00 a.m.) —
Abbasi, Rez Trio Divided Attention Album Review Continuous Beat
Enja Records
Evangelista, Karl/Grex Hymn Taglish

Philips, Dave & Freedance Pyramids Album Review Confluence
Innova Recordings
Emily Hay, Brad Dutz, Motoko Honda Biting Ants Polarity Taskmasters

Parker, William Orchestra Essence Of A Train / Take The A Train / Ebony Interlude Album Review Essence Of Ellington: Live In Milano
Aum Fidelity

Forsyth, Chris East Kensington Run Down Album Review Kenzo Deluxe
Northern Spy
Rudd, Xavier Butterfly Spirit Bird
Side One Dummy Records
Green Mitchell Trio, The Coom De Craw Album Review Green Mitchell Trio, The
Edgetone Records

Rivers / Holland / Altschul First Set: Part 4 Album Review Reunion: Live In New York
Pi Recordings

(I’d stopped posting complete playlists because they screw up the search results. Not Google’s results, but the searches within this site itself — a function you probably don’t use, but I sure as hell do! and it wasn’t useful to me to search for “Tim Berne” and get one or two entries buried among a dozen playlists. It was too much like a Highlights find-the-pictures puzzle. Now that my on-air appearances have become so infrequent, I figure I can give it another shot.)

Fred Frith Supplementary Playlist

Fred Frith performs at Slim’s tonight, Aug. 25, performing the album Gravity with Dominique Leone’s band and Aaron Novik’s Thorny Brocky. Opening acts include the ROVA Saxophone Quartet. More info here, or check out the podcast interview.

It’s been so long since I posted a radio playlist, I forgot to do one this time.

I followed up my Aug. 20 Fred Frith special with an hour of related music. The full playlist, including a “regular” hour of non-Frith-related music, is on KZSU’s Zookeeper site. The post mortem is below.

Dominique Leone — “Sometimes You’ve Got To Be Happy” — Abstract Expression (Important, 2011) ….. I started out with Leone and Novik’s bands, since they’ll be performing Gravity with Frith. Of the songs on this list, this is the only one that was sampled for the special, only because I improvised this playlist and couldn’t get this one out of my head. Actually, I’d wanted to play “Tension,” but it’s got some clearly questionable FCC content right up front.

Aaron Novik’s Thorny Brocky — “Igor Stravinsky’s Memorial BBQ” — (unreleased, 2012) ….. A band that combines upbeat jazzy sounds, a touch of Klezmer (or maybe everything with clarinet sounds like Klezmer), and bits of rock and, for want of a better word, experimentalism. Aaron sent me three tracks to use with the special. During an intermission, I’d played one that sounded more typical of the band. This one opens up noisy and rocking. Based on the title, I would guess Frank Zappa had some influence on this song.

Samla Mammas Manna — “Andra Satsen” — Supernatural Fairy Tales (Rhino, 1996) ….. The only Samla (pronounced “Zamla”) track we’ve got in the KZSU library. It comes off a six-CD Rhino compilation of prog rock. The track selection is watery (Golden Earring? Moody Blues??) but it’s got some gems and, as you can see from the Samla inclusion, some nice discoveries, not to mention Roger Dean cover art.

The Muffins — “Come With Molten Cloud” — Chronometers (Cuneiform, 1994) ….. The Muffins are a new discovery for me, and the biggest surprise is that they did so many prog songs that are only 3 or 4 minutes long! The title track to “Chronometers” does span 23 minutes and includes lots of Rock in Opposition goodness, but they also did lots of snippets, like this one, that suggest prog didn’t have to be about 8-minute-long “singles.” My mind is blown.

Fred Frith — “A Spit in the Ocean”/”Navajo” — Speechless (Ralph, 1981) ….. Hey, look, an actual Frith track! Speechless was the followup to Gravity and used the same scheme of a different band on each side: Etron Fou Leloublan on Side 1, and Frith’s New York band Massacre (Bill Laswell on bass, Fred Maher on drums) on Side 2.

Cosa Brava — “The Wedding” — The Letter (Intakt, 2012) ….. Second album from Frith’s “pop” band, seen here in a more instrumental and less “pop” light. It’s a moodier album; I remarked to Fred that it felt like a stronger Carla Kihlstedt influence, but he countered that it’s Zeena Parkins whose musical voice and ideas came to the fore this time. Hoping to write a little more on this album later.

Henry Cow — “Half Asleep, Half Awake” — Unrest (East Side Digital, 1995; orig. released 1974) ….. During the Frith interviews, much was made about how un-dance-like and un-peppy Henry Cow and Art Bears were. Which is true, but then again, I find some of Henry Cow’s work to be quite uplifiting, such as this track. After some moody piano, there’s a quice dancy-y bassoon solo from Lindsay Cooper. Frith noted that Cooper was his model for the kind of musician who can straddle the classical and jazz worlds — specifically, that line between rigorous reading or interpretation and the freedom to explore and improvise.

Toychestra & Fred Frith — “Grover Rides a Happy Honker/3 Elephants and a Cow” — What Leave Behind (SK, 2005) ….. Movements three and four of a five-movement concerto for toy instruments and electric guitar, written by Dan Plonsey. Founded by Paula Alexander in 1996, Toychestra was an all-women, all-toy-instrument band. By 2004, the five-woman band had had enough turnover that most of the actual musicians were out, leaving artists who were learning music on the fly. Inspired by that naive sound, Plonsey wrote the concerto, “What Leave Behind,” which I saw them perform at the Starry Plough sometime around 2004. The two movements I played here capture a little of everything: a serenade by the toys alone, followed by lots of scribbly Frith electricity. (For more on Toychestra, look here.)

NOT included on the show: Fred Frith and Evelyn Glennie, The Sugar Factory (Tzadik, 2007). I’d forgotten about this one. The duo played at Stanford in 2008, and I previewed the show by building a playlist around the album. You can read about that on my pre-blog site.

Day of Noise Has Not Yet Ended

UPDATE: I’ve now got a set of photos posted to Flickr. Other KZSUers will be posting photos there and elsewhere, I’m sure, and plenty are on Twitter (like this one). I’ll add photos to the blog somehow — either this entry or another one — in the coming days as the Day Job permits.

I’m in the Green Room for KZSU’s Day of Noise. Yes, there is a thing; we’re borrowing the Stanford Drama Department’s green room, just upstairs from the station.

Abode, the duo of Caroline Pugh and Paul Stapleton, are about to start their set; I’m watching the Ustream feed and seeing them setting up. Megabats, from Seattle, just got done performing; this is one of the few breaks during the day when we’re spinning CD music between acts. We’re managing to fill more than 90 percent of the 24 hours with live performance.

I haven’t been at the station all 24 hours, although some have (some with no sleep at all, it seems). Here’s some of what I’ve caught so far (and photos will be coming later):

* Brian B. James and crew started the day with a performance piece (as noted last night), the “score” of which was available on fliers at the station. It culminated in the performers literally preparing a meal — making sushi, specifically, with contact mics on every feasible tool and implement.

* One part I actually didn’t see: Voice of Doom playing his Machinery of Doom, at about 4:00 a.m. Doom was a KZSU DJ in the ’90s, the one who organized the first several Days of Noise, back when. Great to have him involved in this one.

* David Leikam and Joe Straub attacked a bass and a guitar with bows and random objects for a partly-toneful barrage of sounds.

* Leikam later brought his z_bug free-psych band into the studio for a good heavy set that culminated with a strong actual rhythm (oh no!) on drums. It was a well timed, soaring coda to the whole set, actually.

* Bill Orcutt, of Harry Pussy, attacked a four-stringed acoustic guitar with precision and abandon. A peg on one of the strings has been malfunctioning, so it became three-stringed guitar after a while.

* I was not able to hear much of Jessica Rylan‘s set, as I was attending to other duties around the station, but I’ll note that she has a pink mixing board.

* Frank Rothkamm played the world debut of his newest song set, titled K5, to be released later on his Flux record label. We had a fun interview as well, where he talked about his love for older technologies: vinyl records, analog synths. He’s got one of the very first (if not the first) Hewlett-Packard oscillators in his possession, it seems. And on his way out of the station, he was intent on visiting the Computer History Museum, which seemed fitting.

* Matt Ingalls and John Ingle played a terrific duo set that I heard in the car, with woodwinds playing off one another, sometimes in scribbly quick sounds, sometimes savoring the dissonant beats arising from simultaneous long tones. They got joined by Matt Davignon and Abode for a terrific second set. Paul Stapleton brought an array of insruments, including percussion; Caroline Pugh does a lot of inventive vocalizing, sometimes enhanced with props (an electric toothbrush, e.g.), sometimes in odd texts (a recitation of a recent dream). She has a lot of personality in her vocalizing; it’s not too over-the-top serious.

* Megabats turned in a couple of good electronic improvisations, the last one being heavy on tone and melody. (Again: oh no! But seriously, we don’t mind a touch of those qualities during Day of Noise.) Right now, they’re in the Green Room with a stack of CDs they brought, and DJ Adam (who led the coordination of the whole Day) and others are geeking out with them over bands and CDs. It’s pretty cool, and it’s the kind of vibe that college radio should be all about: sharing common joys and new discoveries.

Photos later, as I noted. I’ll tack some onto this post and/or put them into a separate post, and I might add annotations and links (and proofreading) to this post as well. The bands White Pee, The Lickets, and Vulcanus 68 — KZSU favorites all, especially among noise-minded students — are yet to perform tonight, and Thea Farhadian is due to be up right now. It’s been a tremendously successful Day of Noise. Big props to the staffers, especially the students, who did most of the organizing, and of course a big thank you to all the artists for coming down to perform.

Playlist: January 3, 2012

I filled in for a couple of hours Tuesday night on KZSU. You’ll find the playlist here.

I’d decided to alternate sets of experimental music (we have lots of drone/ambient in rotation at any given time) and classical. Found a couple of interesting things looking through the library.

The big discovery: The San Francisco rock band Battlehooch. A group I certainly didn’t expect to be adding to my classical/experimental show.

I wanted to pick a show to give away tickets to, and the info sheet for this one indicated that Battlehooch might be something weirder than ordinary rock. OK, then — I randomly grabbed the Oof Owf EP, spun the track “Boog Woogily,” and — yowza. Fast cartoony rock with saxes beating out the bassline and wacky percussion. Signs of serious musicianship behind a clown-punk exterior. They’re one of those bands that I can’t believe I’ve missed for all these years.

I couldn’t not play this stuff after falling in love with it, so I used a few noisy tracks to lead up to a Battlehooch ticket giveaway. (Credit one assist to Liz Allbee, whose nifty little track “Drill Sergeant, Drunken Revolt” ends with the same kind of vocal hoots that “Boog Woogily” starts with — nice transition there.)

Battlehooch plays at Slim’s on Saturday, Jan. 7. I just might go. Hear these guys on Soundcloud.

In my show, Battlehooch led to an art-rock phase with the newest from Cheer-Accident (highly poppy stuff, but still progged out and a little weird, just how the band’s fans like it), and old stuff from 5UUs (a mellower track with bassoon-sounding synths, comparatively stripped-down)

I got back to classical music with a performance by solo saxophone and tape from Susan Fancher. Her album In Two Worlds, on Innova, shows off a lot of jazzy dexterity in a spare, modern-classical environment.

Having said all that, I did manage to get some classical music spun, and that led to another nice discovery.

In rotation, we’ve got In Memoriam, a collection of performances by Emanuel Vardi, considered a modern master of the viola. It was released by the Cembal d’Amour label last year after Vardi’s January 2011 death. I’d never heard of Vardi, I have to admit, but he was well respected — and he’d been living a second career as a painter, after a 1993 shoulder injury ended his music-playing career. It’s a bittersweet story. He and his wife both painted, and you can some of their pieces at (That’s one of them, to the left of the next paragraph.)

Anyway. We’ve got one overenthusiastic DJ who’s been stuffing the rotation with Brahms, Bach, Chopin kinds of classical music — stuff that’s damn near impossible to fit into an eclectic show — but I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Vardi CD focuses on 20th century pieces. I played Michael Colgrass‘ “Variations for Four Drums and Viola,” recorded by Vardi and Colgrass in 1959; it’s got a stern strength despite the spare duet setting.

I followed that up with a solo viola sonata by Paul Hindemith, off the Lawrence Power collection of Everything Hindemith Ever Wrote For Viola (not the actual title) on Hyperion.

From a poster for the Jan. 7 Battlehooch show at Slim’s. Click to go to The Bay Bridged, from whence I copied this.

Coltrane, R.E.M., Beginnings, Endings

September 23 is John Coltrane’s birthday, right?

It’s for that reason that when the last-minute opportunity came up to sub for DJ Fo early Friday morning, Sept. 23, on KZSU, I took it, against my better judgement. (Because I’d have to get up early, because I have a job… stuff like that.)

I figured I could make it easier on myself by celebrating Coltrane’s birthday with a couple of long tracks and an album I’d picked up a couple of years ago: Live in France, July 27/28, 1965, a two-CD set on Gambit Records.

All the jazz greats have scads of random, piecemeal albums in their names — live sessions, “best-of” compilations, that sort of thing. The reason I bought this one: It’s got “Ascension” on it, twice. Played by just the classic quartet (Coltrane, Tyner, Garrison, Jones), not the full, screaming version. It was too much to resist.

And you know what? Pared down, “Ascension” comes across like a normal Coltrane song. The solo has its overblowing and dissonance, but it feels more polished. McCoy Tyner’s piano, eclipsed by the band on the Ascension album, comes back to being the center of gravity.

Anyway. “Naima,” “Ascension,” and “My Favorite Things” — the latter two segueing into each other via a tremendous Elvin Jones solo — made for a 40-minute block that I could use to work on other tasks, unobtruded, while legitimately spreading the word the way college radio is supposed to. I’d originally planned to let the CD continue into the 21-minute version of “Impressions,” but I was mentally ready to step back into DJ mode by then, so I decided to cut things short.

It turns out these July 1965 recordings are indirectly famous, partly for not being released before Gambit’s CD pressing in 2009, and partly because they’d happened one and two days after the only known live performance of the complete “A Love Supreme.” You can read more about it at JazzWrap (or in the liner notes of the CD.)

(I’m listening to the original “Ascension” now. Coltrane’s solo is so primal, so intense. It’s as if he needed the energy of that large grouping to get the escape velocity he wanted. Dewey Johnson turns in a more-than-capable trumpet solo — gotta find out more about him someday — and then Pharoah Sanders comes in like a chainsaw.)

I did one other thing on this show that I thought was cool. It’s customary for jazz radio hosts to celebrate musicians who have recently passed. In that spirit, and because R.E.M. had split up less than 24 hours earlier, I broke format for about 4 minutes to spin “Wolves, Lower,” off the Chronic Town EP from so very long ago. It was a celebration partly of my own youth and partly of the influence and effect R.E.M. had on college radio. They were part of the era that, for me, really defined what college radio is supposed to be, a spirit that’s fading fast. I hadn’t heard this song in years. Those four minutes meant a lot to me.

Full playlist can be found in KZSU’s database, here. I stuck to Fo’s format, which is a wider spectrum of jazz than I play, so you’ll see a more accessible selection of music than on my normal playlists.

Playlist: September 21, 2011

Between work duties, parental duties, and a summer cold over the weekend, I’ve had little time for listening to music, let along blogging. I’m still here!

Program note: I’ll be on the air for one extra week, so there’ll be a Memory Select show on Sept. 28, 9:00 a.m. to noon Pacific time. Bonus baseball, as they would say if this were, uh, baseball.

Full playlist for my Sept. 21 KZSU show can be found here.  Some notes:

John Carter & Bobby Bradford — “In the Vineyard” — Mosaic Select 3-CD box set (Mosaic, 2010; orig. recorded 1969) ….. I’d been meaning to blog about this box set but haven’t had the time to give it a thorough listen. It’s a document of L.A. free jazz circa 1970, and there’s some fantastic stuff in here. This track, like many others, features Carter’s sax/clarinet and Bradford’s trumpet in head-spinning unison lines and/or improvised interplay.

Raphe Malik, Joe McPhee, and Donald Robinson — “Resolving a Quote” — Sympathy (Boxholder, 2004) ….. Dang, it’s been a while since I’ve listened to Malik. He can really spout on the trumpet. I’d bought this one on a whim not just on the strength of the two horn players, but on Robinson’s presence. His strong, light touch on the drums is a sound to be treasured.

For the show’s final hour, I let myself depart strongly from jazz, into weirder experimental material.

(etre) — “We Do Boring Things Together” — Inferno From My Occult Diary (Porter, 2011) ….. A one-(wo?)man artist doing collages of loops and sounds, with piano and acoustic guitar plentiful in the mix. I was worried this might slow things down too much, but this track got a caller, someone interested in tracking down a copy. Calls that that always make a college radio DJ’s day.

Xela — [Side 2, excerpt] — Heirs of the Fire (SMTG, 2009) ….. On vinyl, an experimental piece in two side-long parts. I could have gone with the clamorous, stormy ending, all dark and almost gothy, but I liked the sounds at the beginning of this side, with chimes and wine-glasses and the feel of a cold metallic wind cutting through your soul.

Anthony Davis — “Particle W” [excerpt] — Middle Passages (Gramavision, 1984) ….. A 16-minute piece for piano and tape, composed by Earl Howard. Quoting the liner notes: “The piano part consists of a set of detailed instructions which explain how to improvise each section. All the electronics for ‘Particle W’ were created on a Serge Modulator Music System.” Aside from the tape part here, Middle Passages is a solo piano album with a very classical-music seriousness. At the same time, it’s one of several Davis albums that KZSU owns from the ’80s, and the ‘fro he’s rocking with his conservative black suit is to die for.

Playlist: September 14, 2011

KZSU, 9:00 a.m. to noon. Full playlist can be found here.  Some notes:

Bunky Green — “Tunex” — The Salzau Quartet Live at Jazz Baltica (Traumton, 2008)
Bunky Green — “Playin’ for Keeps” — Playin’ for Keeps (Cadet, 1966)

….. Playing tribute to an old cat while he’s still alive. I probably should have spun a track off of Apex, his CD with Rudresh Mahanthappa, but I really wanted to spotlight just Bunky. “Tunex” is a jumping bebop tune that quickly gets into the other-dimensional soloing that makes Bunky an artist worth watching. The older “Playin’ for Keeps” (from KZSU’s vinyl collection!) is closer to a traditional form but with a riff that I think is in an odd time signature. My older posts about Bunky can be found in these places:

Claudi Scolari — “Movement Inspiration” — Colors of Red Island (Principal, 2011) ….. Interesting album that pains widescreen lyrical backdrops, as in the prettier albums on ECM, and puts almost rock drumming over them. Interesting combination, and closer to serene than bombastic. This track has some lingering Tangerine Dream moments before the vibes and crazy drums steop in; another track called “Variation of Movement” includes some strong trumpet playing over a very ECM-like backing.

Agusti Fernandez and Mats Gustafsson — “Critical Mass 1” — Critical Mass (Psi, 2005) ….. The improv world is full of these arbitrary pairings, with so many recordings available that it’s easy for some to get lost or buried. This was a nice one to resurrect. Dark piano and prepared piano to go with Gustafsson’s punk sax attack. This track starts out all quiet and exploratory but later drags us through buzzy, noisy terrain. Cool.

Branford Marsalis — “Xavier’s Lair” — Bloomington (Columbia, 1993) ….. Selected this one because we had tickets to give away for Branford’s Yoshi’s appearance (Sept. 21 in San Francisco). Branford’s isn’t a name associated with the avant-garde, but still. The polished precision (sometimes with unexpected twists buried inside long, fast scribbles), the quilted pillowy sound — there’s something to be said for all that. Eva, a KZSU DJ very into avant-garde music, reviewed this one for the station in the ’90s, noting Marsalis had talent and ideas but didn’t say that much, and I can see that argument. I also miss an element of rawness in the playing, as I noted on a review of mine for Footsteps of Our Fathers, where Marsalis covered an Ornette tune. Still, it’s good to be reminded that some of these big-name players really did do something to earn their names.

Playlist: September 7, 2011

Full playlist is on file here. Some notes:

Wooley/Looney/Smith/Walter — “Anglewise Blind” — Scowl (ugExplode, 2011) ….. Recorded in 2008, when Weasel Walter (drums) and Damon Smith (bass) were still in the Bay Area (along with Looney), this is a nice slice of free improv, with Walter showing off some of the agile, restrained jazz-influenced drumming that he’s so good at. This one reminds me: I keep meaning to give air time to Scott Looney (piano), maybe his Urban Ruminations album with Oliver Lake, Paul Smoker, and Lisle Ellis.

Sir Roland Hanna — “20th Century Rag” — Colors from a Giant’s Kit (Ipo, 2011) ….. This album features solo piano recordings from a few sessions in the years before Hanna’s death. It ranges from poignant ballads to jovial standards. This is one of the Hanna originals, a ragtime tune with some chromatic colorings and a classical-recital air. It’s playful and modern — not avant-garde-angular modern, but still modern.

Matana Roberts — “Rise” — Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens De Couleur Libres (Constellation, 2011) ….. In listening to snippets of this one, it struck me as emotionally uneven, often raw. Which isn’t bad; it just makes for an awkward fit in some sets. This week, I paid attention and realized it’s an album about slavery — about the injustice, the heartache, the anger, and the stain that remains on the present as well as the past. That explains the keening cry at the start of this song, rough yet soulful and with a touch of blues. Actually, it’s a wonderfully emotive start to the album — a cathartic sax blast at first glance, but with subtle shadings and depth. Almost a product of acting more so than musicianship. This track ends with a quieter, gentle mood, maybe a thankful mental pause after the struggle. For a nifty writeup with more background, see Pop Matters.

Bela Fleck — “Life in Eleven” — Rocket Science (Entertainment One, 2011) ….. I admire Fleck’s music, but his smooth jazzy sympathies don’t blend well with my show. Still, it was fun to give this a spin — I mean, come on, it’s called “Life in Eleven,” and it’s so fast that you can’t immediately count out the elevens. I might also play “The Secret Drawer,” which is a 2-minute track of Futureman‘s Drumitar.

Ornette Coleman — “Sounds and Forms for Wind Quintet” — The Great London Concert (Arista, 1975) ….. A 24-minute piece that almost resembles a take on minimalism, or maybe Anthony Braxton’s Ghost Trance Music (which I don’t think existed in 1975). The winds play in little pulses, with occasional long pauses as if they’ve come to the end of a sentence. And so it goes… for quite a long time. I used this one as the sound bed during mic breaks, but the long pauses made it awkward. I also played the final 7 minutes or so, which wrap up with some quickly spun phrases, a very jazzy coda that got the audience hollering.

Playlist: August 31, 2011

Full playlist is viewable here. A few notes:

Donnie McCaslin — “Mick Gee” — Seen from Above (Arabesque, 2000) ….. Blast from the past. I remember this album didn’t make me a McCaslin convert; some of the melodic tracks and soaring, dramatic swells were too much for me. But he’d assembled a crack band: Ben Monder (guitar), Jim Black (drums), and Scott Colley (bass).  They don’t push boundaries on many of the tracks, but this one’s a cooker, and it opens with some of Black’s trademark drum propulsion. Overall, I do prefer McCaslin’s more recent stuff (such as Perpetual Motion on Dave Douglas’ Greenleaf label). McCaslin’s playing at Yoshi’s Oakland on Sept. 12, so I might be spinning him next week in conjunction with a ticket giveaway.

Danielle Roger — “India Which Is Not India”/”Deception… and Melancholy” — Pinta, Nina & Maria (Ambiances Magnetiques, 2008) ….. Interesting brew of classical music, electronics, and improvisation. This pairing, which ends the album, starts with a crinkly electronics sound but then bursts into a full-on chamber composition, with jumpy brass criss-crossing against madrigal woodwinds. Ren Faire plus modern classical plus abstract electronics.

James “Blood” Ulmer — “High Yellow” — Forbidden Blues (DIW, 1998) ….. I blew it here.  A caller raved about the loud, chaotic Joe Morris track I’d played last week and mentioned that he was into Ulmer as well.  So, into the library I went.  But I decided to go with this track for its catchy opening rather than with the searing, cosmic-ocean-wave sound of “What Is.”  The result worked well as far as radio transitions go (especially going from this track to the steady Klez-funk of Ben Goldberg’s Go Home), but I got bored of the track quickly. Good stuff, just not what I was looking for at the moment.

Evan Parker & John Wiese — “No Shoes” — C-Section (Second Layer, 2011) ….. Evan Parker is Evan Parker: saxophone sounds that flutter and continually change, like a flame. He’s teamed with electronics, tapes, and computer patches by Wiese. I’m having a hard time getting into this one; the electronics seem abrupt and disruptive. The session is meant to have a loud aesthetic, which is great. I’m just not sure the blend works for me.

Playlist: August 24, 2011

A consciously “jazzier” show this time. It’s just the mood I was in.

Full playlist can be seen here. Some highlights:

* Steve Coleman & Five Elements — “Formation 1” — The Mancy of Sound (Pi, 2011) ….. KZSU’s own DJ Fo finds this “more cohesive and successful than 2010’s Harvesting Semblances and Affinities.”  I haven’t given it a full listen yet, so I’ll be interested to see if I get the same impression.

* Nathan Clevenger Group — “Fossil Strategies” — The Evening Earth (Evander) ….. Always good to give a little love to local musicians. I discussed this album in January. I wonder if the title has anything to do with the swingy, old-fashioned elements of the composed head.

* Cecil Taylor — “Enter Evening (Soft Line Structure)” — Unit Structures (Blue Note, 1966) ….. I was going to go with “Steps,” the album opener, which goes more for the jugular. But it felt too aggressive after the swingy Clevenger piece. I’ve always liked this track, which is soft but not actually slow, when you concentrate on it. Hope listeners had the patience to drift with it for 11 minutes.

* Monoswezi — “Xai Xai” — Monoswezi (Parallell [yes, with four ‘L’s] 2011) ….. African music augmented by sax and clarinet. The African part comes from the Shona people of Zimbabwe — very percussion-heavy stuff, as you’d imagine. A liquid and serious sound, and the horn additions don’t try to turn it into soupy jazz.

I’ll be on every Wednesday through Sept. 21, with a possible gap on Sept. 14 (I’ll let you know more as I know more). Please tune in — 9:00 a.m. to noon at 90.1-FM in the Bay Area, or