This is a J.C. Kuhl appreciation post.
I realized on Wednesday night that I’d been hearing Kuhl’s saxophone with a remarkable regularity over the course of the last week. Thought I’d share the timeline:
Last Friday, I set a new personal record for earliest Record Store Day arrival time, motivated primarily by Known About Town: Library Music Compendium One — the snazzy Coke-bottle-green vinyl compilation that pulled together tracks from the quarterly Library Music cassettes the Spacebomb House Band released throughout 2018. How motivated was I? Back on February 28, the day Spacebomb announced Known About Town, I emailed Bill at BK Music to say “I may end up setting a new personal record for earliest RSD arrival time this year.” I made it to BK a little before 5:30 a.m., when it was still dark and raining cats and dogs. Fortunately the Stratford Hills Shopping Center has a covered walkway perfect for a line of lawn chairs, and even more fortunately, I was near enough to the front to snag one of a few signed copies of Known About Town. Guess who contributed sax to the album? J.C. Kuhl.
Two days later, in the considerably comfier environs of my couch, I took in a live set by Mekong Xpress & the Get Fresh Horns. The band has started streaming their regular Monday night sets at The Answer via Facebook, and joining in has become a weekly ritual. It’s not the same as being there in person, which happened more regularly when the YHT crew lived just a short bike ride from the Mekong/Answer epicenter, but I love that I can still stay connected to the group, which is as stacked and sensational as any in town. And who’s there on sax, whipping songs into a frenzy with screaming solos that make you feel like you are there in person? J.C. Kuhl.
Two days later, Mrs. YHT and I made it out — got a babysitter and everything — to the Tin Pan, excited to see fellow University of Richmond alum (and my former bandmate, briefly) Andrew Schutte play bass with the Latin Jazz Messengers, a group led by trumpeter and UR professor Michael Davison. We were seated front and center and treated to an excellent set, which ranged from standards like “Caravan” and “Guantanamera” to a few unfamiliar tunes I’m looking forward to getting to know better. (I’m especially excited about having heard “The Preacher” and “Sister Sadie,” a pair of Horace Silver compositions that I’m hoping will serve as an overdue entry point to Silver’s body of work.) And guess who was there — and I mean right there, just a few feet away from our table, sipping red wine and trading solos with Davison and the rest of the gang? I think you see where I’m headed here.
J.C. Kuhl: a player for whom “known about town” couldn’t be more fitting.
The return of CD Monday! Well, not really. This is a more of one-off, given that my daughter is still threatening to melt down if she doesn’t get to determine the playlist during rides to and from work/daycare. (Potential DJ name: DJ Emotional Blackmail.) But I can listen to whatever I want while running lunch errands (!), and this week I’m getting reacquainted with Side Trips: Volume One, which is being issued for the first time on vinyl as part of this year’s Record Store Day: Black Friday event.
It’s a pretty snazzy album. Howard Wales wails (GET IT?!?) on Hammond organ and Fender Rhodes, and you get to hear how Jerry Garcia acts and reacts in a jazz setting. Parts can feel less like jazz and more like the middle of a Dead jam, but whatever. The vibe is fun and intuitive and exploratory, and it makes for great unfocused listening. Zone in. Zone out. Your call. It’s also perfect dinner music, assuming your guests are cool with meandering, guitar-driven jam-jazz. OK so maybe it’s better this is being reissued after Thanksgiving.
See y’all in line at BK Music on Friday!
Jerry Garcia & Howard Wales — “Space Funk” [YouTube]
Lots of fun stuff going on this week — including a ticket giveaway below!
- I picked this past week’s Off Your Radar album — Devin Sproule’s I Love You, Go Easy — and I want to thank the other writers for taking a listen. I’d also like to officially and publicly cop to not knowing that “Runs In The Family” was a Roches cover. Doug Nunnally may never forgive me. Click here to read this week’s issue.
- Speaking of Doug, I can’t wait to read the RVA Magazine article he wrote about Andrew Cothern and his efforts with Virginia Tourism. Might have to go hunting for a copy after work today.
- It has begun — the Record Store Day lust started welling up last night when I saw that this collaboration between Light in the Attic Records and the Aquarium Drunkard blog will be released on Black Friday. It collects Lagniappe Sessions — informal covers recorded for the blog — including Matthew E. White covering Randy Newman.
- I picked up a copy of Nels Cline’s Lovers album last weekend, and it’s an absolute monster. I listened to it around when it came out in the summer of last year, but I guess I wasn’t listening intently enough, because it is so broadly and consistently brilliant.
- Lucy Dacus did a Take Away Show. Lucy Dacus did a Take Away Show. [tries to catch breath] Lucy Dacus did a Take Away Show.
- Just got my ticket for Helado Negro’s show at Strange Matter on 11/7 and was surprised to see another band listed as the headliner: Kikagaku Moyo. Checking them out now, both their album from this year — House in the Tall Grass — and this Revolt of the Apes profile.
- Speaking of tickets, remember how I interviewed Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre? Exciting news — Richmond Navigator is giving away two tickets to tomorrow night’s show at The Tin Pan! Be the first to comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook and they’re yours!