Mavis Staples – If All I Was Was Black (2017)

FrontCover1.jpgIf All I Was Was Black is the thirteenth studio album by American R&B, soul and gospel singer Mavis Staples. It was released on November 17, 2017, by ANTI- Records. The album was written and produced by Jeff Tweedy.

The album’s announced on September 11, 2017. The album consists of 11 songs, all of which were written by Jeff Tweedy. Staples said she hoped the album will “bring us all together as a people. That’s what I hope to do. You can’t stop me. You can’t break me. I’m too loving. These songs are going to change the world.” Tweedy described the message of the album, saying, “I’ve always thought of art as a political statement in and of itself—that it was enough to be on the side of creation and not destruction. But there is something that feels complicit at this moment in time about not facing what is happening in this country head on.”

The lead single, “If All I Was Was Black”, was released on September 11, 2017, along with the album’s pre-order. “Little Bit” was released as the second single from the album on October 12, 2017. The third single, “Build a Bridge”, was released on November 7, 2017. “Ain’t No Doubt About It” was released as the fourth and final single on November 14, 2017. A music video for “If All I Was Was Black” was released on February 12, 2018.


The year 2017 has been full of political unrest and growing racial division in the United States, but for good or ill, Mavis Staples has seen days like these before. As a teenager, she was a member of the Staple Singers, who in their days as a gospel group were close friends and allies with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the struggle for civil rights was at its peak. They also experienced more than their share of violence and hostility as an African-American family band touring in the Deep South in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Mavis Staples was too strong to let hatred and narrow-mindedness break her when she was a twenty-something, and at the age of 78, she still isn’t about to back down. Released in 2017, If All I Was Was Black finds Staples once again collaborating with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, who produced the sessions and wrote the bulk of the songs, and while the lyrics tend not to focus on the specifics of the chaos that’s marked the time it was made, it’s definitely an album intended to speak to troubled times.


As a woman of deep spiritual beliefs, Staples is the ideal vehicle for these songs, which often deal with hatred, inequality, and indifference while making clear that love and understanding have the capacity to heal America’s wounded spirit. Staples’ vocal style here is informed by equal parts vintage gospel and classic soul, and together they fill these messages with strength, compassion, and a much-needed sense of hope. The lyrics sometimes reflect Tweedy’s usual tropes as a writer, but Staples gives them a musical and emotional force that sets them apart.


Her voice is in splendid shape for a septuagenarian, still supple and able to navigate the twists of the melodies while sailing confidently over the arrangements that fuse indie rock with the feel of ’70s soul. And if this set of songs is a bit short on specific answers to our problems, well, “We Shall Overcome” never explained how that would happen either. What’s most special about If All I Was Was Black is the way Staples and her collaborators confront the challenges of a distraught world while filling the listener with the belief that all is not lost, that we can get past bad times and build a better future if we try. Quite simply, this is an album America needs. (by Mark Deming)


Stephen Hodges (drums, percussion)
Rick Holmstrom (guitar)
Glenn Kotche (percussion)
Scott Ligon (keyboards, clavinet, guitar)
Mavis Staples (vocals)
Jeff Tweedy (guitar, bass, percussion, vocals)
Spencer Tweedy (drums, percussion)
Jeff Turnes (bass)
background vocals:
Donny Gerrard – Kelly Hogan – Akenya

01. Little Bit (Tweedy) 3.51
02. If All I Was Was Black (Tweedy/Staples 3.55
03. Who Told You That (Tweedy) 2:48
04. Ain’t No Doubt About It (featuring Jeff Tweedy) Tweedy 3:18
05. Peaceful Dream (Tweedy) 3.20
06. No Time For Crying (Tweedy/Staples) 4.36
07. Build A Bridge (Tweedy) 3.37
08. We Go High (Tweedy/Staples) 3.26
09. Try Harder (Tweedy) 3.51
10. All Over Again (Tweedy) 1.54





Ill Considered – Ill Considered 3 (2017)

FrontCover1.jpgIll considered are a band comprising four musicians interacting with each other to create freely improvised music, based loosely around simple pre-written themes or composed on the spot. Deep grooves and plaintive melodies ranging from whispered chants to monstrous climaxes, the group react to the mood of the audience and the sonics of the room to create music that is unique to the moment. (Press release)

The third album from Ill Considered has been a revelatory part of the journey for its members. While the first album was completely improvised in a two hour session involving all four musicians and no pre-written tunes, the second album was a live gig recorded at The Crypt Jazz Club, London, involving mainly compositions ( taken from the first album, as well as new tunes and some from Wildflower (the other band in which Leon Brichard and Idris Rahman collaborate with drummer Tom Skinner). The creation of Ill Considered 3 was quite different again.
A session was booked at the same studio in which Ill Considered’s first album was created, and the four musicians met (this time with Satin Singh on percussion) with a view to recording some pre-written melodies as well as some fresh, improvised material.
The band soon realised that although the pre-written tunes were to some degree working nicely, there was no comparison with the vibe, energy, spontaneity and overall freedom of the fully improvised material.

Ill Considered03.jpg

There is a musical freedom that this particular combination of musicians needs to express – throwing caution to the wind they create soundscapes, atmospheres, dreamy groove based journeys immediately in the moment, held together by deeply felt musical interaction and the interspersion of hooky bass lines and melodies. Using simple but effective motifs, the band again manage to build from delicate, intimate moments of emotion to screaming climaxes and drum and bass inspired head-bangers.
Meditative and spiritual in essence, there are a wide range of textures in this album:
Djinn has an ethereal, mystical calm about it, whilst the bass harmonics and minimal percussion of Nada Brahma give an almost Gamelan-like texture. Delusion and Meditation have a head-nodding, deep and dirty jazz-funk-inspired restless energy punctuated by abstract melodic hooks that stay with you long after you’ve finished listening.
Along with the improvised band tracks, there are three short solo tracks from bass, drums and sax – again created in the spirit of freedom. (

In other words: One of the most exciting new jazz group we have !

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Leon Brichard (bass)
Idris Rahman (saxophone)
Emre Ramazanoglu (drums)
Satin Singh (percussion)


01. Djinn (Brichard/Rahman/Ramazanoglu/Singh) 3.29
02. Incantation (Brichard/Rahman/Ramazanoglu/Singh) 5.35
03. Nada Brahma (Brichard/Rahman/Ramazanoglu/Singh) 6.38
04. Retreat (Brichard) 1.28
05. Scatter (Ramazanoglu) 1.15
06. Delusion (Brichard/Rahman/Ramazanoglu/Singh) 7.28
07. Meditation (Brichard/Rahman/Ramazanoglu/Singh) 6.7
08. Perplexity (Rahman) 1.06



Ill Considered02.jpg


Laura Cannell – Hunter Huntress Hawker (2017)

FrontCover1.jpgOn the dark edges of folk music lingers Laura Cannell, a violinist and recorder player who uses traditional instruments to evoke unearthly, ageless narratives. Her fourth album is a series of improvisations recorded in a church on the crumbling coast of Covehithe in Suffolk, roaring into life under her fiddle’s curved, baroque bow. This technique involves the four strings being played simultaneously and the effect is aggressive, unsettling, but also primordially beautiful, the harmonies of the drones often clashing cruelly before resolving themselves. Many moments are also unapologetically, uncompromisingly difficult. The harsh, stabbing playing in Blacksmith is like a metalworker’s studio in sound, while Air Splinters Through feels freshly torn from a horror soundtrack. It’s not a record for early mornings. But while this music feels ancient, it also feels brutally alive, as if a giant was waking from long slumbers, about to make its way in the world. (Jude Rogers)

The musical explorations of British fiddler and composer Laura Cannell travel between early music, folk traditions, and earthy avant-garde improvisations. A native of Norfolk, Cannell studied at the London College of Music and University of East Anglia before founding the inventive folk ensemble Horses Brawl with guitarist Adrian Lever and cellist Jonathan Manton in 2003. Following the group’s 2005 debut, Manton departed and Horses Brawl remained a duo on subsequent releases like 2007’s Dindirin and 2011’s Wild Lament.

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For their fourth LP, 2012’s Ruminantia, multi-instrumentalist Andre Bosman replaced Lever, while later that year Cannell embarked on a new collaboration with experimental harpist Rhodri Davies. Setting down her fiddle, she focused on recorder and vocals for the duo’s Feathered Swing of the Raven.

Her solo debut, Quick Sparrows Over the Black Earth, was released in 2014 and featured ten live improvisations recorded in single takes in a Norfolk church. A haunting mix of overbowed fiddle compositions and eerie double recorder pieces, several of the album’s songs were later remixed on the Black Earth Remixes EP. Her follow-up, Beneath Swooping Talons, arrived a year later via the Front + Follow label, marking a rare release issued outside of her own Brawl Records imprint. Released in 2016, Simultaneous Flight Movement continued her evolution with more deeply nuanced performances that drew from her eclectic influences and ample imagination. In addition to her solo work, a new collaborative project emerged called Oscilanz, which featured Ralph Cumbers (Bass Clef) and drummer Charles Hayward (This Heat, About Group). Cannell’s fourth solo outing, Hunter Huntress Hawker, arrived in 2017. (Timothy Monger)

Laura Cannell03

Laura Cannell (violin)

Laura Cannell02

01. Speckled and Dappled 0.42
02. Gathering 0.46
03. Blackwater 6.56
04. Persuasion 3.13
05. Awaken Waken 2.38
06. Breathe Now 0.56
07. Blacksmith 4.53
08. Air Splinters Through 0.57
09. Under Deep Leaves 0.37
10. Nordhalla 4.10
11. Lines Of Copper Gold 2.54

Music composed by Laura Cannell



Bob Seger – I Knew You When (Deluxe Edition) (2017)

FrontCover1I Knew You When is the eighteenth studio album by American rock singer-songwriter Bob Seger. It was released on November 17, 2017.

The album was recorded in Nashville and Detroit and produced by Seger himself. The first song that became available from the album was “Glenn Song”, which was written by Seger as a tribute to his friend Glenn Frey of the Eagles, who had died one year before. On January 18, 2017—eight months before the album was announced—Seger released “Glenn Song” for free on his official website. The song recounts his long friendship with Frey that began in 1966.

When the album’s track listing was revealed on October 13, 2017, “Glenn Song” was listed as one of three bonus tracks that can be found on the deluxe edition of I Knew You When. Along with the track listing, the album covers of both the 10-track standard edition and the 13-track deluxe edition were revealed as well, and the album became available for pre-order the same day. The standard edition is available on CD and 130-gram vinyl, while the deluxe edition is available on CD, as a digital download, and via select streaming services.


Along with the announcement of I Knew You When on September 22, 2017, a cover version of Lou Reed’s “Busload of Faith” was released as the first single taken from the album. The song was originally released by Reed on his 1989 album New York. Seger recorded his version of the song at a studio session in Nashville during May 2017 and premiered it with his Silver Bullet Band at a concert in Cincinnati on September 21, 2017, as part of his Runaway Train tour. Besides Reed’s “Busload of Faith”, Seger included another cover song in the album, namely “Democracy”, which was written by Leonard Cohen and originally released on his 1992 album The Future.

A number of Seger’s own compositions for the album were written and originally recorded many years or even decades ago but remained unreleased at the time. The oldest one is the uptempo rock song “Runaway Train”, which was first recorded in 1993 for Seger’s fifteenth studio album, 1995’s It’s a Mystery. The upbeat “Blue Ridge”, which has been compared to Seger’s “Sightseeing” from 1991’s The Fire Inside, and the album’s title track, “I Knew You When”, both date back to 1997 and were potential candidates for Seger’s 2006 album Face the Promise. The anthem-like “Forward into the Past”, a song in the vein of Seger’s “American Storm” or “Even Now”, is from 1999 and was once to be the title track of his sixteenth studio album, while the ballad “Something More” is from 2001. The two tracks “I’ll Remember You” and “The Sea Inside”, the latter of which Seger described as “very Led Zeppelin”, were mentioned in interviews with Seger as early as 2011. They were to be included on his then upcoming seventeenth studio album, 2014’s Ride Out, but ultimately did not make it onto the album.

Bob Seger1

Initially, the November 17 release date of I Knew You When would have marked the last day of the Runaway Train tour—named after the song of the same name from the album—that began on August 24, 2017, but Seger had to postpone all concert dates starting September 30 due to “an urgent medical issue with his vertebrae”. Of the 32 scheduled tour dates, Seger could complete 13 and had to postpone 19. (by wikipedia)

Mortality is on Bob Seger’s mind on I Knew You When, an album dedicated to his departed friend Glenn Frey. I Knew You When contains two tributes to Frey — the sepia-toned title track and “Glenn Song,” the latter available only on the album’s Deluxe Edition — but the onetime Eagle isn’t the only dead rock star to haunt the album. Seger covers Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen, both selections — “Busload of Faith” and “Democracy” — nodding to the American mess of 2017, another element that adds a sense of immediacy to the record. Despite these undercurrents of sentiment and politics, I Knew You When can’t quite be called a meditative, melancholy record, not with roughly half the record devoted to fist-pumping arena-fillers that feel piped in from several different eras.

Bob Seger2

“Runaway Train” is confined by a robotic pulse that channels “Shakedown,” “The Highway” is dressed with ’80s synths, and “The Sea Inside” is a clumsy nod to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” sounds that not only fight with Seger’s protests and tributes but fight with each other. These old-fashioned album rockers are so loud and awkward, they overshadow the excellent singer/songwriter album that lurks at the core of I Knew You When. Such imbalance makes I Knew You When a bit incoherent, yet in its quietest and angriest moments, it offers some of the best music Seger has made in the 21st century. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)


Jim “Moose” Brown (yynthesizer)
Tom Bukovac (guitar)
Mark Byerly (trumpet)
Chris Campbell (bass)
John Catchings (cello)
David Cole (guitar)
J.T. Corenflos (guitar)
Chad Cromwell (drums)
Eric Darken (percussion)
Craig Frost (clavinet, synthesizer)
Kenny Greenberg (guitar)
Richie Hayward (drums)
John Jarvis (synthesizer)
Bob Jensen (trumpet)
Jim Kaatz (guitar)
Keith Kaminski (saxophone)
Christopher Lee Lyons Design
Rob McNelley (guitar)
Tim Mitchell (guitar)
Greg Morrow (drums)
Steve Nathan (keyboards, synthesizer)
Billy Payne (piano, background vocals)
Carole Rabinowitz (cello)
Alto Reed (saxophone)
Deanie Richardson (fiddle)
Michael Rojas (piano)
John Rutherford Trombone
Bob Seger (vocals, guitar)
Jimmie Lee Sloas (bass)
Gerard Smerek (percussion)
Rick Vito (guitar)
Biff Watson (guitar)
Glenn Worf (bass)
Reese Wynans (keyboards)
background vocals:
Herschel Boone – Terena Boone Vocals – Bekka Bramlett – Rosemary Butler – Laura Creamer – Donny Gerrard – Seth Morton – Shaun Murphy – Barbara Payton


01. Gracile (Seger) 2.48
02. Busload Of Faith (Reed) 4.32
03. The Highway (Seger)  3:38
04. “I Knew You When (Seger) 3:53
05. “I’ll Remember You (Seger) 3:48
06. “The Sea Inside (Seger) 4:14
07. “Marie(Seger) 3:26
08. “Runaway Train” Craig Frost, Tim Mitchell, Bob Seger 4:10
09. “Something More” (Seger)3:47
10. “Democracy” Leonard Cohen 6:32
Total length: 40:48
Deluxe edition bonus tracks
No. Title Writer(s) Length
11. “Forward into the Past” Mark Chatfield, Frost, Seger 4:12
12. “Blue Ridge (Seger) 3:50
13. “Glenn Song (Seger) 2:49




Molly Kien – Pyramid – Song of Britomartis – Smarginatura (2017)

FrontCover1.jpgMolly Kien is a Swedish composer new to me, but one with an impressive and distinctive voice. The idiom of these orchestral works is undoubtedly and unabashedly modern, but with moments of particular beauty. I look forward to hearing more of her work: she has something very distinctive to say.

The three works here are different from each other, but each demonstrates excellent command of orchestral colour and also of mood.

Pyramid was inspired by “Altar Painting No. 1”, a work by Hilma af Klimt which shows a colourful pyramid rising to the sun. The piece starts with high notes, followed by drum beats—a theme which recurs and provides rhythmic impetus. There is a touching solo for violin at the heart of the piece.

For me, the highlight was the second work, the Song of Britomartis, here performed live by the Canadian, Laura Stephenson, principal harpist of the Stockholm Philharmonic. It was premiered in 2009 and was also played in London later that year. This recording is of a revised version. There is so much to admire, not least the understanding of the capabilities of the harp. The inspiration for the work was classical – Britomartis is a Minoan goddess – as represented by a rug in the Stockholm Concert Hall. One hears echoes of fauns playing flutes and mermaids with their lyres.


The longest work, Smarginatura, is based on a series of novels by Elena Ferrante. In the first, My Brilliant Friend, a character experiences “smarginatura”, a dissolution of margins. The music contains various blending effects, with changes of phrases and dark undertones. I have not heard it sufficiently often to uncover more than a few of its insights, but each hearing has revealed more riches.

Recording quality is excellent, and notes are informative, but the main joy is the music itself. (Michael Wilkinson)


Laura Stephenson (harp)
Västeras Sinfonietta conducted by Eva Ollikainen (01. + 03.) and Anna-Maria Helsing (02.)

01. Pyramid 11.57
02. Song Of Britomartis 19.53
03. Smarginatura 24.27

Music composed by Molly Kien



Viktoria Tolstoy & WDR Big Band – ScanJazz – Live In Düsseldorf (2017)

FrontCover1.jpgLouise Viktoria Tolstoy (born Louise Viktoria Kjellberg, 29 July 1974 in Sigtuna Municipality, Sweden) is a Swedish jazz singer of Russian ancestry. She is the daughter of Erik Kjellberg and the great-great-granddaughter of Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy was a housemate in season one of the television series Big Brother in 2000.

She was married to designer Per Holknekt from 2001 until they divorced in March 2008. (by wikipedia)

An artistic disposition runs in the family of Swedish singer Viktoria Tolstoy. Her great-great-grandfather was the legendary Russian novelist Leo Tolstoi. No wonder young Viktoria made an impact in Stockholm jazz clubs with leading Swedish musicians like Svante Thuresson and Putte Wickman. She recorded her first album in 1994, aged 20. Two years later, with the album För Älskad, she became an overnight pop sensation in Sweden. This prepared the ground for her collaboration with Esbjörn Svensson, who produced and wrote the songs for White Russian, the first Scandinavian album released by the legendary Blue Note label.


Around that time Tolstoy also worked with Nils Landgren, and in 2003 she followed him and Svensson as an exclusive ACT-artist. Since then, she has established herself as one of the leading voices in jazz today. Crystal clear, dynamic, untamed and vibrating, but also down-to-earth – her voice is probably the most brilliant of all Scandinavian singers. If Viktoria Tolstoy sings a song, it is not simple interpretation; she shapes and marks it in her own way. (by act music)

And hre´a pretty good radho show with many jazz standard and a lot of Swedish traditional tunes, played in a fascinating Big Band sound !

Recorded live  at theRobert-Schumann-Saal, Dusseldorf, Germany; December 6, 2017
Very good satellite broadcast.


Hakan Broström (saxophone)
Viktoria Tolstoy (vocals)
WDR Bigband conducted by Hakan Broström


01. Intro (in German) 1.13
02. All Of Me (Marks/Simons) 5.19
03. Talk 0.32
04. Jag Jet En Dejtig Rosa (Traditional) 6.37
05. Ack V’rmland Du Sk’na (Traditional) 5.07
06. Talk 0.28
07. May Night (Broström) 9.18
08. Sophisticated Lady (Ellington/Mills/Parish) 4.20
09. Talk (in German) 1.22
10. Kling Klang Klockan Slar (Traditional) 6.05
11. The Way You Look Tonight (Traditional) 4.49
12. Talk (in German) 0.58
13. I Can’t Help It (Wonder/Greene) 5.47
14. Den F’rsta Gang Jag Sag Dig (Traditional) 5.16
15. Talk 0.40
16. Polska Fran Horn/Jag Alls Ingen (Traditional) 6.34
17. Talk 0.25
18. Cronelis (Broström) 7.38
19. Memories Of You (Blake/Razaf) 4.20
20. Talk 0.29
21. Vem Kann Segla F’rutan Vind (Traditional) 4.55
22. Band introductions 2.18
23. Caravan (Ellington/Tizol) 4.41
24. Outro (in German) 3.34



WDR Big Band

Uncle Jimmy (Moondaze) – Moon Child (2017)

FrontCover1On friday night I saw in Leverkusen/Germany a band, that was announced as “Uncle Jimmy” … but since August 03, 2018 they called Moondance:

MOONDAZE is an energetic bluesrock band from the Netherlands. Kick-ass drums, solid bluesy vocals, virtuoso guitarlicks and hammondsolo’s on fire! If you like the ‘s60, ‘s70 and ‘s80, this band is a must-see for you! Their energy is contagious. They already have seen much of the world, they are not only playing in their home country, but also in Germany and Luxembourg. And many more to follow..

Playing as much as they can is their ultimate goal. MOONDAZE is something new, something refreshing, something really nice to look at. Before they changed their name to MOONDAZE on the 3rd of august (2018), they were called Uncle Jimmy. That name didn’t fit the personalities of the bandmembers anymore. People got wrong expectations with that name, so they decided to change it to MOONDAZE!

And it was a pretty good concert … including a killer version of “Magit Carpet Ride” (you know … Steppenwolf !)


And here´s their last EP from 2017 …

Two chicks and two gentlemen make sure that the blood flows through your veins! They give you the energy to go wild all night on their filthy and sexy bluesrock. They are giving a twist to the 70s. The tough, bluesy vocals of the chick on bass flank the virtuoso guitar and screaming Hammond, completed with a bed of killer drums!

Stand up and SHOUT!! They are influenced by Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and the Black Crowes. (by


Moondaze (formerly Uncle Jimmy) take their influences from Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and the Black Crowes, making the most raw and sexy Blues Rock you could wish for. Take rock-solid drums, add strong Bluesy vocals from the lady on the bass, combine with virtuoso guitar and Hammond solos, to produce a masterly Rock ‘n’ Roll sound.

They hit the ground running in 2014, performing at the 3FM Festival and releasing their mini album ‘Stand Up and Shout’. Moondaze’s (Uncle Jimmy) reputation has continued to grow with concerts throughout their native Netherlands and many ventures into Germany.

To quote David Wolgen on Suksawat ´This band has a groove, this band has soul, this band is bursting with energy, Moondaze (formerly Uncle Jimmy) is sexy and Rock ‘n’ Roll. (by neimë


ENERGETIC bluesrock with a touch of Hammond Organ. This is 70’s rock in a new jacket, inspired by legends like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. The album Moon Child is about the child in yourself and how a child can experience good and bad situations.

This band is fronted by a female leadsinger/bassplayer. Featured by an amazing Hammond Organ (also played by a lady), this band puts the 70’s in a whole new perspective! They are inspired by Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. All four of them are very young, but are 100% dedicated to what they create. Everybody needs to see Uncle Jimmy live, because that will be an experience to remember. Their EP Moon Child is just a small hint of what they can do! They are most known by their high energy on stage and let the audience dance like never before.

Even though they are from the Netherlands, they already play a lot in Germany where they are slowly becoming famous, bit by bit.

Oh yes … it´s time to discover one of the finest bands of this year !


Tom Beemster (drums, background vocals)
Marja Boender (bass, vocals)
Julia Driessen (organ)
Sebastiaan Fledderman (guitar)

01. Play Around 3.23
02. Pink Hawk 3.38
03. Custom Made Man 3.32
04. Sinister 4.29
05. Moon Child 4.43
06. Optical Illusion (new single as Moondaze) 3.59