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CD/LP/Track Review

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sketches: Volume 2

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Same musicians, same winning concept, great new songs: that's what awaits on the second volume of music from the quintet collective known as Sketches. This Brooklyn-based outfit works a unique angle with its own brand of cross-pollinated composition, whereby one musician brings in a tidbit of music that serves as the seed for a piece from the pen of another band member. It's a form of collaborative writing that allows both parties to work alone together. To some, the band and its concept may smack of gimmickry, but those thoughts belong with the pure ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Paragon: Cerca

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It's been a decade since Anglo-German quartet Paragon formed. Cerca, recorded on an unspecified two days in Cologne, is the band's third release. The sax and Rhodes frontline, backed up by Matthias Nowak's bass and Jon Scott's drums, creates an elegant repertoire of tunes that draws on influences as diverse as '60s spiritual jazz and hip-hop grooves. Although the band's been around for ten years, Paragon's members can still be classed as part of the younger generation of contemporary jazzers. Their wide-ranging roll-call of collaborators and employers includes established players like Mike Walker and Nils Wogram, contemporaries such ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Anthony Natural Instincts Trio: Nostalgia

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Guitarist Michael Anthony, whose warm salute to mentor and friend Howard Roberts, Recollections, was reviewed here in June, recorded another tribute album seven years earlier (2007), this one dedicated to another longtime friend and colleague, the late Al Viola, who passed away in February of that year. Anthony says he was fortunate to have met Roberts and Viola during his formative years on the West Coast, forming friendships that helped point him toward a long and successful career as a jazz guitarist and Hollywood studio musician. As was the case on Recollections, Anthony's choice of material and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jax Jazz Collective: Lotus Blossom: The Music of Billy Strayhorn

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Duke Ellington (1899-1974)--Americas's finest bandleader, America's finest composer--released his own tribute to Billy Strayhorn, his partner in music and tune smithing. It was called ...And His Mother Called Him Bill (RCA, 1967). Ellington and Strayhorn's music was so intertwined that the Duke's less that fanatic fans might think that “Lush Life," “Take the A Train" and “Lotus Blossom" are Ellington tunes. But those classics, and many more, came from the prolific and always elegant pen of Strayhorn. Now the Jax Jazz Collective, under the leadership of pianist Joshua Bowlus, offers up Strayhorn in a small group outing with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Frank Kimbrough: Quartet

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The majority of pianist Frank Kimbrough's albums have focused on the piano trio format, but he's certainly willing to try other things; he made that clear by recording in a duo with vibraphonist Joe Locke on more than one occasion, putting together a bass-less quartet for Noumena (Soul Note, 2000), and going it alone on Air (Palmetto, 2007). Now, with the plainly-titled Quartet, Kimbrough does it again. This time he's at the helm of a foursome that includes a pair of his colleagues from the Maria Schneider Orchestra--bassist Jay Anderson and saxophonist Steve Wilson--and drummer Lewis Nash, who Kimbrough first ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Heckman Quintet: Search for Peace

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Steve Heckman says he was inspired to play the tenor saxophone after hearing John Coltrane, especially Coltrane's A Love Supreme. Luckily, Heckman did not follow his mentor completely off the deep end but remained instead true to his bop-bred roots while developing a singular voice of his own on the tenor. On Search for Peace (a title Coltrane would no doubt have endorsed), San Francisco-based Heckman's fourth album as leader, Trane's impact is never far away but has been tempered by Heckman's experience and exposure to a number of other exemplars including (but not limited to) Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Louis Sclavis Quartet: Silk and Salt Melodies

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After reinventing himself with a completely revamped ensemble on Sources (ECM, 2012), reed multi-instrumentalist Louis Sclavis expands the purviews and possibilities of his Atlas Trio by adding percussionist Keyvan Chemirani to the mix for Silk and Salt Melodies. Sclavis has, in his 33-year career as a leader--and since coming to ECM Records in 1991 with the recording of Rouge (1992)--made a life's work of regular reinvention, both contextually in terms of lineup and stylistically through a broad cross-section of projects ranging from the fully unplugged, improv-heavy but still composition-based Acoustic Quartet (1994) and image-inspired blend of form and freedom on ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Adam Meckler Orchestra: When The Clouds Look Like This

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The image that adorns the cover of When The Clouds Look Like This--three weathered valves rising from the mist, a finger button inexplicably missing from the middle valve--is something of a mystery. Is it a riddle? A metaphor of some sort? Or is it simply an image that appealed to these musicians? Only those involved with the project can answer those questions, but the cover is certainly thought provoking, just like the music that sits beneath it. Adam Meckler--a composer-educator-trumpeter who's toured with Todd Clouser's A Love Electric, Youngblood Brass Band, and numerous other groups--brought together a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Philip Corner: Satie Slowly

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Pianist Philip Corner slows down Erik Satie and shows where Philip Glass, Terry Riley and Steve Reich came from. Satie Slowly is exactly that: the piano music of Satie vastly slowed down compared to most contemporary performances and recordings. The lengthy subtitle to the release says it all: “Avoid All Sacrilegious Exaltation." The large insert, assembled from Corner's papers over the last 40 years, note: If his piano pieces are so easy why are they so badly played? What they have this must not be violated is an objectivity allthemore solid for being so fragile...they resist all ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tyshawn Sorey: Alloy

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From an early age composer/drummer/educator Tyshawn Sorey has found creative outlets in not just music but in painting and literature as well. Never one to compartmentalize his own imagination, he has enthusiastically explored blues, gospel, classical and music for dance so it seems quite natural that his current music defies categories. Whether listening or writing, he takes a non-judgmental approach to the way he engages with music, preferring possibilities over prescription. Sorey has recorded or performed with a veritable who's-who of modern music including trumpeters Wadada Leo Smith and Dave Douglas, saxophonists Anthony Braxton, John Zorn and Tim Berne, and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tommy Igoe: The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy

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Jazz audiences in the Bay Area are starting to realize what their New York counterparts have known for years--namely, that drummer Tommy Igoe puts together a hell of a band and puts on a hell of a show. Igoe, the man who gave rhythmic life to Broadway's The Lion King and changed the face of drum set pedagogy with his Groove Essentials books, has been tearing it up on Friday nights with The Birdland Big Band since 2006; now he's out to conquer the other coast. Igoe still drops in at Birdland when he can, living something ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Roseanna Vitro: Clarity: Music of Clare Fischer

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Roseanna Vitro is a “singer's singer." What does that mean? It means she is so excellent and still warranting much more attention. Her deep and precise alto is perfectly tuned and balanced. Her phrasing is textbook. This is what a jazz singer sounds like. But Vitro's skill set does not stop at vocal prowess. She is also a crack arranger, programmer and music journalist. That is a wealth of grace and talent from Hot Springs, Arkansas. Vitro's projects are also well-considered and assembled. Throughout her career, she has been intelligently judicious in selecting artist and artistic themes ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Pete Roth Band: Circus In The Sky

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It's virtually impossible for any contemporary musician to have emerged in isolation--to have developed a style or technique unaffected by those who have gone before. Guitarist Pete Roth is no exception--the press release name checks John McLaughlin, Jonathan Kreisberg and John Scofield as contributing to the German-born, London-based player's approach to his chosen instrument. On Circus In The Sky, Roth's second album, he makes use of these influences--and more--to craft some skilfully written and played tunes. Roth's writing encompasses a range of styles. “Little Mr X"--dedicated to Roth's young son--and the swinging “Smile" are bright and joyful. Roth's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eric-Maria Couturier / Henri Roger / Emmanuelle Somer /Bruno Tocanne: Parce Que!

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The cover of French pianist Henri Roger's latest album, Parce Que! , delivers no information about its title, musicians, the recording etc. Just a plain dark painting and a barcode on the back cover. The mysterious cover, designed by Anne Pesce, is the inspiration for a set of collective improvisations by Roger, together with cellist Eric-Maria Couturier, woodwinds and reed player Emmanuelle Somer and drummer Bruno Tocanne, all participants in previous Roger projects. The improvisations, as can be found in Roger website, are inspired by the Outrenoir series of about 30 paintings by one of France ...



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