CD/LP/Track Review

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sean Jones: Im•pro•vise-Never Before Seen

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Sean Jones, the former lead trumpeter of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, never hides behind anything or anyone when he plays. That being said, it's still worth noting that he's pulled back the curtain on this one, revealing more of himself than in the past. This album--his seventh album in ten years on the Mack Avenue imprint--has no overdubs, no percussive window dressing, no other horns sharing space in the front line, and no guests. It's Jones at his most pure and powerful, delivering, as he himself says, “A reintroduction of who I am." Jones' range ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jason Ajamian: A Way A Land Of Life

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While the talented cast dazzles, what comes across most strongly on this 42-minute LP is the controlling mind of bassist Jason Ajemian. Part of the fertile underground scene in Chicago, Ajemian has featured with Ken Vandermark and Matt Bauder, as well as cornetist Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star Orchestra. But none of that really prepares one for the strength of this quartet date. The spirited interaction he draws from a front line of Mazurek and tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby is one of the main pluses on this excellent set, effortlessly underpinned by drummer Chad Taylor who covers all bases between texture ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jerrold Dubyk Quintet: Invitations

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Canadian saxophonist Jerrold Dubyk delivers his third album as leader on Invitations , where he blends an array of fresh original music with a few cover tunes in forging an audacious musical experience of modern-styled jazz. An educator by profession, Dubyk is the Director of Music at Strathcona High school as well as serving on the faculties of Macewan University and the University of Alberta. However, recording has been keeping the educator busy as he also unveils an album of semi-improvised music entitled PREQUAL by his Edmonton-based quartet. On this project, the saxophonist reunites with his Vancouver bandmates ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gianni Gagliardi: Nomadic Nature

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Barcelona-born, Brooklyn-based tenor saxophonist Gianni Gagliardi has long been a wanderer. He left his homeland in his teens, relocating to the Netherlands to further his jazz knowledge at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. Later moves found him soaking up information at SUNY Purchase in New York, Le Conservatoire National Superior de Paris, Boston's Berklee School of Music, and Berklee's Valencia, Spain-based branch. Those experiences, along with international touring, make it clear that Gagliardi knows a thing or two about the nomadic nature of the modern day jazz musician. He willingly shares that knowledge on his debut album. Nomadic ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kenny Lavender: Conscious Journey Part 1 & 2

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"Big D, Texas!" If that's the “Final Jeopardy" answer based on this recording, the obvious and very correct question would be: “Where does the featured artist on Conscious Journey Part 1 & 2 come from?" Yep, it's where everything is expansive, free-wheeling and hot--and ditto this recording. Spanning two CDs and offering a dozen superbly-performed selections with nine originals, this is a Longhorn Steer of quality music--most of it exciting, swinging and all of it definitely entertaining. Here, Lavender--now a mainstay in the New York Broadway and freelance scenes--shows he is a high-energy, multi-talented artist on the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Denny Zeitlin: Stairway to the Stars

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Pianist Denny Zeitlin's Stairway to the Stars recording sparkles to life on the familiar Great American Songbook jewel, “There Will Never Be Another You." This version has everything that the best piano trio efforts offer: elegance, inspired three-way interplay, a vivacious groove--thanks to drummer Matt Wilson and bassist Buster Williams--and Zeitlin's always supple touch and endless inventiveness. Zeiltin, has rolled in a creative high gear since his teaming with Sunnyside Records in 2009, beginning with In Concert with Buster Williams and Matt Wilson. Since that Sunnyside debut, he has released on the label two masterpieces of solo piano, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

J.J. Wright: Inward Looking Outward

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Pianist J.J. Wright has catholic tastes in more ways than one. He's the Director of Music at Sacred Heart Parish, the crypt church beneath the University of Notre Dame's Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and his musical interests range far and wide; Wright's inspired and influenced by everything from the music of J.S. Bach to the work of Thelonious Monk to the songs of Sufjan Stevens. His debut album--a piano trio session with the highly capable Ike Sturm on bass and the rhythmically engaging Nate Wood on drums--hints at some of these influences and points to Wright's faith without ever ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tigran Mansurian: Quasi Parlando

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Armenian composer Tigran Mansurian's poignant and introspective Quasi Parlando on ECM consists of four string concertos. Two penned almost three decades apart and two others that he wrote specifically for each of the soloists on the album; violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and cellist Anja Lechner. The unifying theme of this splendid disc, and one that recurs throughout most of Mansurian's opus, is a sublime, almost effortless, narrative sense endowed with a timeless mysticism. The music is laced with both sorrow and solace, often simultaneously as is clearly heard on the penetrating and profound “Four Serious Songs For Violin And ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jeff Cosgrove: Alternating Current

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Drummer Jeff Cosgrove certainly knows how to draw attention to himself. For his third album the DC area-based drummer enlists the services of two avant jazz icons in pianist Matthew Shipp and bassist William Parker. Just what a coup this is can be gauged from the fact that Shipp's previous sideman dates have included the legendary saxophonists David S. Ware and AACM iconoclast Roscoe Mitchell. Cosgrove has studied with masters like Andrew Cyrille and Paul Motian, and has covered the latter's tunes on Motian Sickness: For The Love Of Sarah (Self Produced, 2012). It was Cyrille who hooked him up ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Matana Roberts / Sam Shalabi / Nicolas Caloia: Feldspar

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An exceptional improvised meeting between American saxophonist Matana Roberts, known for her Coin Coin project--Chapter One: Gens de Couleur Libres and Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile (Constellation, 2011 and 2013)--and two left-of-center, free improvisers from the Canadian, Montreal scene--guitarist Sam Shalabi, known for his Middle-Eastern-tinged band Shalabi Effect and his orchestral works with Land of Kush, and double bassist Nicola Caloia, who leads the improvising Ratchet Orchestra. Feldspar, titled after Earth's rock formations, was recorded in studio in Montreal in 2011 and features the conflicting approaches of Roberts on one hand and Shalabi and Caloia on the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Hedvig Mollestad Trio: Enfant Terrible

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While making noise with her debut, Shoot! (Rune Grammofon, 2011), it was with All Them Witches (Rune Grammofon, 2013)--and subsequent touring that took her from her home country of Norway, playing at festivals like the 2013 Molde International Jazz Festival, to a short North American tour this year--that guitarist Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen's career really took off. Alongside Pixel, Hedvig Mollestad Trio represents some of the most exciting music from a new generation of Norwegian musicians, though the two groups couldn't be more different. And with “Enfant Terrible" released just prior to its 2014 North American tour, Hedvig Mollestad Trio is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kristian Borring: Urban Novel

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Danish guitarist Kristian Borring has been based in London since 2006, establishing himself as a leader and sideman on the UK scene. Urban Novel is his second album, his first for the small indie label Jellymould Jazz. Recorded in London in December 2012, Urban Novel is filled with Borring's original compositions and performed by the guitarist in the company of some of the best sidemen in Britain. It's an album that readily enhances Borring's reputation. Borring's debut release, Nausicaa (Ultra Sound Records, 2011), showed him to be a strongly melodic player. On Urban Novel he continues to demonstrate ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Roberto Magris Septet: Morgan Rewind: A Tribute To Lee Morgan Vol. 2

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Italian-born pianist Roberto Magris gets deep into the music of his influences. He recorded two volumes of the music written by or associated with the somewhat overlooked bop pianist Elmo Hope, and in 2011 he released Morgan Rewind: A Tribute to Lee Morgan, Vol. 1 (JMood Records) , an exuberant nod to the hard bop trumpeter Lee Morgan (1938- 1972). He follows now the initial Morgan tribute with the aptly named Morgan Rewind: A Tribute to Lee Morgan, Vol. 2, a double disc set that explores with a thoroughness and reverence and joy--with some modernizing tweaks--the sound that the too-soon-gone ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Freda Payne: Come Back to Me Love

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In 1970, the spirited R&B/pop singer Freda Payne had a monster success with “Band of Gold," a bouncy love-gone-wrong song that was probably the first top-40 hit ever written about impotence. Decades later, with undiminished pipes, beauty, and impressive energy, Payne returns to the spotlight with this big-band outing from Mack Records on its Artistry Music imprint. Arranged and conducted by the brilliant pianist Bill Cunliffe, Come Back to Me Love features a full complement of brass and horns together with a cushion of violins, violas, cellos, and a guitar, vibraphone, and harp. It's an elaborate yet tasteful ...



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