Swedish Azz's Azz Appeal

Peter Margasak, Reader music critic

Swedish Azz’s Azz Appeal: Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson leads an excellent quintet through sincere but freewheeling interpretations of tunes from his homeland’s golden era of mainstream jazz in the 50s and 60s.

Stickmen’s Insatiable: Once every year or two I pull out this CD, which collects every recording by Philadelphia’s brilliant, criminally overlooked Stickmen, who emerged from no wave’s dying embers in the early 80s. Spastic, wildly original, and insanely weird punk-funk.

Marcelo Camelo’s Toque Déla: The second solo album from the former Los Hermanos singer is my favorite pop album this year, with elegant arrangements by his backing band Hurtmold (and guests including Chicago cornetist Rob Mazurek) perfectly cradling his beautifully crystalline, quietly soulful singing.

See where Bettina Richards, owner of Thrill Jockey Records, finds new music…

Bettina Richards, owner of Thrill Jockey Records

Experimedia.net: One of my favorite places to find and buy good music. It is a great place to small-print records you’re looking for—and to take a risk and discover something new. What they have in many cases might be hard to find even in a city like Chicago with many great record stores.

Gog: I will use another’s words to describe them because I think that description captures what I like about the band best: “Glacial movements that crawl by … Noise as dense as the planets.” This is some lovely heavy expansive drone. Pretty addictive stuff.

The Music of Africa Series, No. 27: Just got this from my twins (their dad, really) for my birthday. I am going to invest a good deal of time (and put off any retirement fund again) trying to complete this set on LP. It is incredibly naked and beautiful music.

What’s visual artist Carol Jackson singing to her cats these days?

Carol Jackson, visual artist

Baby DeeCredit: Robert Loerzel

Baby Dee chamber quintet—with bassoon—at the Hideout, April 5: Only when ferociously well-crafted does humor succeed in art.

Jingles from my childhood turned into songs to sing to my cats: “Rice-a-Roni the San Francisco Treat” becomes “Stripey kitty, you’re in your little suit.” And “I’d like to teach the world to sing…in perfect harmony” is now “The fuzzy gray man runs away … his lamb chops are so cute.”

Adam Vida playing drums at the Hideout, April 22: Performing with Relaxation Record and dressed in suit and tie, Vida resembled Gene Krupa while the rest of the band appeaared to be wearing clothes they’d found in a trunk at a burlesque theater. All of it was a pleasant decoy for a mesmerizing and beautiful 24-minute tune.