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John Engels: Looking Back, Moving Forward

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Drummer John Engels has the energy of two forty-year olds, which is pretty impressive, since he will soon be turning 80. He will celebrate this auspicious occasion with the Vogel Vrij (Free as a Bird) tour, a series of concerts at diverse venues throughout jny: the Netherlands (with saxophonists Benny Golson and Benjamin Herman) which began in April and continues through October. A book was also recently published in Dutch: Hé Vogel, Wanneer Spelen We Weer?: Het Muzikale Leven van ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Two Konstantin Ionenko Releases

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Two recent releases from the Russian Fancy Music label feature bassist Konstantin Ionenko (they also have drummer Pavel Galitsky in common). Ionenko holds down the low end with an electric bass guitar, but the group sound on these recordings is primarily acoustic, with a bass approach similar to what a double bassist would play--no slapping or popping here. If these albums are indicative of the general quality of Russian jazz playing, there must be a deep bench. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Harris Eisenstadt: Golden State II

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Drummer Harris Eisenstadt's Golden State--the avant-chamber group that he formed while he was in residence at the California Institute of the Arts in 2012--is a meeting of minds and instincts. In its initial form, with bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck, bassist Michael Moore, and flutist Nicole Mitchell, this ensemble created music that was smart and offbeat. Logic and surprise were both at play in the sounds that these four made together. They refused to draw out clear distinctions between pre-composed thought and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Milford Graves/Bill Laswell: Space / Time - Redemption

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Music is a mysterious thing, and in a sense, all music that ever was and ever could be exists right now, just waiting for the right musician to bring it forth. Music is meant to be experienced and not merely listened to. Its power is in its emotional content which is conveyed to us by rhythm, melody and harmony. Those musicians who can tap into this energy are the ones who move audiences and even change ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brainticket: Past Present & Future

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In 2015, Cleopatra Records reissued fabled experimental Krautrock band, Brainticket's 1973 album, Celestial Ocean. However, keyboardist and flutist Joel Vandroogenbroeck has abided by a slow pace when releasing subsequent material for mass consumption. Known as a risqué unit that mirrored some of the avant musings evidenced by fellow 70s band, Can and Amon Duul, the musicians are back in action with a rather urbane and radiantly produced musical statement. Highlighted by thrusting grooves, layered electronics, and ethereal flute ...

THE BIG QUESTION

What is your preferred music listening format?

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Compact disc sales are in steady decline as most younger listeners opt for streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube. Millennials are also the driving force behind vinyl sales growth (since 2008) as 9.2 million units were sold in 2014, up 51.8% from 2013. I was a heavy vinyl collector growing up, made mixtapes, dropped cassettes and vinyl in favor of CDs in the mid 1980s, then years later reintroduced vinyl into my collection while increasing streaming through ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Vocal Jazz: 1969-2001

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The Dark Age followed by the Renaissance. The tumultuous changes of the 1960s radically changed the American musical landscape. Jazz fell off the American cultural radar, nightclubs closed their doors and record companies moved on to rock. With few opportunities to work and little money to be made, jazz became a music played by the dedicated for the devoted. Jazz singers, who had always acted as a bridge between the jazz and non-jazz audience, found that the middle ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Oded Lev-Ari: Threading

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There's more to music than often meets the eye. While educated jazz fans often laud and focus on the artists whose names adorn the cover of albums and the sidemen that support and converse with them, far fewer people applaud the work of figures like Oded Lev-Ari--those men of many hats who work out of sight, producing, arranging, and orchestrating for the better-known names. Over the past decade, Lev-Ari's guiding hands have helped to sculpt the sound ...



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