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CD/LP/Track Review

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anders Ahlen Unit: Lines and Dots

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I hope it's not too silly to say that Lines and Dots, the new album by guitarist and composer Anders Ahlén, is really cool. But it is; both in the colloquial sense and in the jazz sense. The music goes down with nary a wasted note, the cover art is hip and minimal, and it comes-self-produced on the artist's own label- from Sweden. The vinyl is heavy and luxurious, and if you miss the limited-edition LP, there's also a CD. The whole package just reeks of... cool. Stylishness aside, the music on Lines and Dots is subtle yet ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ananda Gari: T - Duality

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The young Italian drummer Ananda Gari has been solidifying his credentials in some prestigious company. As part of the quartet Fool Circle, he recorded Moving Thoughts (Rai Trade--Videoradio, 2011) with pianist Stefano Battaglia. With his brother, pianist Govinda Gari, he recorded Incipit (Goodfellas, 2013) featuring saxophonist Mark Turner. On T-Duality--his first outing as a leader--Gari has surrounded himself with a cadre of downtown New York notables whose disregard of convention pushes his capabilities as both composer and drummer. Joining Gari are saxophonist Tim Berne and double-bassist Michael Formanek, long-time collaborators whose work in Berne's cutting edge Bloodcount dates ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wadada Leo Smith: The Great Lakes Suites

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Trumpet and composer Wadada Leo Smith remains in one of the most fertile phases of his long and storied career. His prodigious output now enjoys the outlets it needs, courtesy of the Finnish TUM imprint and the US-based Cuneiform Records. And other recordings appear on a variety of independent labels. At least in part that is likely due to the prestige of the Pulitzer Prize recognition for his momentous Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform, 2012) extravaganza. For this latest extended work inspired by the Great Lakes of North America, Smith enlists the help of fellow AACM alumnus Henry Threadgill, an acclaimed ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lucas Niggli - Andreas Schaerer: Arcanum

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Whether leading his Drum Quartet, seven-piece Zoom ensemble or supporting fabled improvisers, bassist Barry Guy and guitarist Fred Frith, Swiss drummer Lucas Niggli is not one to play it safe or dodge risk-taking processes. His mantra is firmly implanted in a musical world that is assuredly outside the box, after appearing on nearly two-dozen albums for Intakt Records. On Arcanum, Niggli takes another leap of faith by teaming with free-form vocalist Andreas Schaerer. Besides the drummer's colossal sound and enviable technique, the twosome sparks esoteric dialogues, perhaps signaling tribal music for the modern era with an air of antiquity, especially ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Northwest +1: Minor Suggestions

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Northwest + 1 is a group of five jazz musicians, all educators that were brought together in a routine guest artist appearance at Spokane Falls Community College in June of 2013, by trumpeter/educator Kevin Woods. Woods along with his SFCC colleague pianist Danny McCollum, assembled a rhythm section of Washington's finest with Jon Hamar on bass and Julian MacDonough on drums to fill out the group of Northwestern based musicians. Saxophonist Damani Phillips was invited to round out the group's horn section. Phillips currently serves as Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies and African-American Studies at the University of Iowa, where ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Childs: Map To The Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro

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The latter day jazz community, by and large, has embraced songwriting icons from the other side of the fence. Numerous artists associated with jazz have visited in on Bob Dylan's iconic work, explored the dark soul of Tom Waits, reshaped the poetic work(s) of Leonard Cohen, and/or tapped into the Joni Mitchell well. But what of Laura Nyro? The woman behind such under-appreciated classics as “Stoned Soul Picnic," “And When I Die," “Eli's Comin,'" and “Wedding Bell Blues" has largely been ignored in jazz circles, but that all seems to be changing. Vocalist Mark Winkler got the ball rolling by ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Gary Urwin Jazz Orchestra: A Beautiful Friendship

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Sometimes, just when it seems things couldn't possibly get any better, they do. That is certainly the case with A Beautiful Friendship, the spectacular new recording by arranger Gary Urwin's superlative southern California-based Jazz Orchestra. Having released three earlier albums showcasing the exceptional artistry of tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb and / or trombonist Bill Watrous, Urwin has upped the ante and pulled out all the stops on this one, not only re-enlisting Christlieb and Watrous for a consistently pleasing encore performance but enlivening the menu with yet another appetizing component, namely Carl Saunders, one of the most versatile and creative ...



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