B.F. Egypt, Esophagus Sarcophagus
David Lee definitely went it alone on this album, perhaps with a little too much creative control. The result? Ten bizarrely unstructured surf-rock tracks with nonsensical lyrics (and occasional cackling). Under the moniker B.F. Egypt, Lee handles the guitar, drums, keyboards, songwriting, production, and vocals. Most songs are mumbled, and sound more like impromptu thoughts than pre-written scripts. (Birth Mark Records)
Art Elliot, Earth Abides EP
I regret ever having compared Bart Davenport to Barry Manilow. That honor actually belongs to Art Elliot, a wheedly-voiced Oakland artist who specializes in piano ballads with dystopian themes. Consider the title track of his new EP, which includes the lyric The elders knew what they had done/Sold us into extinction/I'm the only one. Ouch. Rest assured that it also has a rather glorious string section. This album might have gone over better if the world really was about to end. Oh — wait. (self-released)
Megan Keely, Acorn Collection.
Earnest, liquid-eyed Megan Keely is clearly someone to look out for. Check out her live show if you're able, but if not, this eight-song artifact should suffice. Buoyed by potent songwriting and choice orchestrations, it's a phenomenal piece of work. Most songs are old-timey, gypsy-jazz love ballads. "Gepetto's Song" is a folk tune-turned-chorale. "Daydream Ditty" features some nimble dialogue on trumpet and kazoo. (self-released)
David Ginsberg, Tribute.
This year's Jazzschool pick of the week is another lost gem from 1980, featuring a seven-piece combo with David Ginsberg leading on trumpet. He does five originals and an agile rendition of Clifford Brown's "Sandu." The leadoff track, "Eye to Eye," is a fast-paced scorcher in which the two saxophonists (Bishop Norman Williams on alto and David Schnitter on tenor) supply equally elaborate solos, if only to keep the energy up after Ginsberg's flamboyant entrance. (Jazzschool Records)