Hank Shteamer on André 3000 at the Blue Note

Is André 3000 in his jazz era? | NPR

When sessions for New Blue Sun began, he was still figuring out how to operate the digital woodwinds that feature heavily on the album. As it turns out, it’s precisely this aspect that makes New Blue Sun so appealing as a live show.

One of my favorite music writers and creative music thinkers, Hank Shteamer, wrote this terrific piece for NPR. He had a companion piece looking more broadly at the current spiritual jazz renaissance (“spiritual-jazz-aissance”) in his newsletter which is also worth a look.

Rail Band: Nantan

The Point Is to Create Useful Utility

The Dumbphone Boom Is Real | Kyle Chayka

I’ve cut myself off from such meaningless digital stimuli but preserved my ability to answer texts or phone calls if necessary. (I’m too much of a millennial to actually leave the house without any phone.) I find myself looking more at my surroundings, which are particularly enjoyable in springtime, and I am more relaxed when I return from the excursions. When I switch the sim card back into my iPhone, the device seems momentarily absurd: an enormous screen filled with infinite entertainment and information that follows me wherever I go. Then I open all my usual apps in quick succession—e-mail, Instagram, Slack—to see what I’ve missed.

The rationale behind dumbphones isn’t lost on me but it’s a phenomenon that doesn’t appear to reach Generation X as a point of serious interest or concern, which is not to say it shouldn’t of great concern but simply that it isn’t. Oh, well, whatever. Never mind.

She’s a Freight Train, Man, Watch Her Swing

Kimberley sent this to me earlier this evening. I’ve been waiting to stream TANGK until we tear the shrink from the LP but that’s starting to seem like unnecessary depravation. What a wonderful song!

The Precipice of Becoming a Musical Dinosaur

When Do We Stop Finding New Music? A Statistical Analysis | Stat Significant

I’m an outlier with regard these statistics, which is to say they don’t really apply to me. It’s probably the way I seek music, which is usually to come upon a style or genre or artist and then dig in exhaustively. Another factor is determined by what kind of music I want to make myself. So, for example, the last 10 or 15 years, roughly ages 40-55, have been a time of breathless discovery, ranging from West African and high life music to Salsa to the drone compositions of Lamonte Young and Tony Conrad to creative and improvised music of all sorts. I listened to almost none of this stuff prior to my 30s, a decade spent in discovery of other kinds of improvisation, jazz, americana, post-rock, and more. What does ring true for me is “From 30 onward, we listen to more music outside the mainstream.” I think the statement originally refers to listening to music from mainstreams past, but in my case its application is my journey into much farther out territory than I used to occupy.

I imagine that some of the despair the author faces stems from listening habits and streaming as one would have listened to radio, from trusting the algorithm(s) to do the legwork.

But it’s still interesting to think about, to consider how much of what we’re after sticks with us from earlier and more formative times. I’m doing this myself in a way with My Life with Peter Gabriel, following a single artist through my own life and music, examining the formation and extension of that influence.

Many White People Misunderstand

The O.J. Verdict Reconsidered | Jemele Hill for The Atlantic

The fact that we’re still arguing about O.J. shows that we haven’t come as far as we should have, in part because too many white people misunderstand the reaction among many Black people to his acquittal in the first place.

What they miss is that if Black people cared about Simpson’s trial and the way it exposed cracks in the criminal-justice system, they never cared much about Simpson the man.