CD/LP/Track Review


Scott Jeppesen: Wonders

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Ancient history and current times collide on the sophomore release from California-based tenor saxophonist Scott Jeppesen: with Wonders, he offers up an intelligent, semi-programmatic look at the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World as seen through a modern jazz lens. Jeppesen, a once-upon-a-time protégé of saxophonist Joe Henderson and a jazz studies doctoral student at the University of Southern California, fuses his passion for history with some serious composing and playing chops. Descriptive writings and drawings documenting ...


Ken Vandermark Resonance Ensemble: Double Arc

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For the most part, we only follow the trajectory of an artist's career many years after his work has been completed. Looking back at the career of Miles Davis, you can now play connect-the-dots from bebop to Gil Evans to modal jazz to electric Miles. Certainly, back in the day, many a listener knew not where Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970) came from. We are fortunate today to have access to so much more music and an artist like saxophonist Ken ...


Matthew Shipp Trio: The Conduct of Jazz

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A glance at pianist Matthew Shipp's discography reveals that small group work has long been a focus. Indeed in recent times one of the prime outlets for his artistry is his classic piano trio, which ranks among the pre-eminent outfits in modern jazz. The Conduct Of Jazz represents Shipp's twelfth release in the format. Although there has been gradual change in personnel over the years--Newman Taylor Baker makes his debut on the drum stool alongside monster bassist Michael Bisio, replacing ...


Five Play: Live at the Deer Head Inn

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I haven't been to the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania in years. But if I make it there, I hope to time my visit to coincide with Five Play at theDeer Head Inn, which bills itself as the “oldest continuously running jazz club in the country." Long may it prosper, for there are good musical things happening there. Big bands and their leaders have always had small groups:from Benny Goodman to Stan Kenton, and Woody Herman and Tommy ...


César Cardoso: Bottom Shelf

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"Além" starts unceremoniously, almost mid-tune, tenor sax and guitar evoking a sultry Stan Getz mood. The labyrinthine structure of the title track adds to its appeal and benefits from strong playing with a feisty guitar solo. César Cardoso's soprano on “Ónica" evinces a delicate interplay between the sax and the guitar. It might be a bit too much to suggest that the essential pairing of this saxophonist and guitarist is as effective as that heard on John McLaughlin's classic album ...


Dave Douglas Quintet: Brazen Heart

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Leading a quintet whose debut recording, Be Still (Greenleaf Music, 2012) was an elegiac song cycle dedicated to his late mother, Dave Douglas' Brazen Heart, sadly, finds the trumpeter / composer in mourning once again. Damon Douglas, Dave's brother, passed away in June 2015. Yet, the overall tenor of Brazen Heart is completely different than Be Still and its direct antecedent Time Travel (Greenleaf Music, 2013). There are no vocals on Brazen Heart. Also, after many months of touring and ...


Double Basse: This Is Not Art

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Although the group moniker might suggest two bull fiddles, in fact it describes the French pairing of bassist Benjamin Duboc and contrabass clarinetist Jean-Luc Petit. No strangers to each other (Petit appears on the bassist's leadership debut under his own name on Primare Cantus (Ayler, 2011)), they nonetheless pile up the challenges for themselves: no charts; restricted palette; exposed situation; and difficult instrumentation, especially the unwieldy woodwind. The two lengthy spontaneous inventions were recorded in the pre-Romanesque chapel of Saint ...


Filip Jers Quartet: Filip Jers Quartet Plays Swedish Folk

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A difficult one, this: harmonica player Felip Jers and his quartet the latest in a long line of artists attempting to put a jazz slant on Swedish folk music. It all started in the 1960s when pianist Jan Johansson scored a massive hit with an EP and later an LP titled Jazz På Svenska (Jazz In Swedish). Johansson's name is repeatedly invoked in the sleeve notes. His bassist, Georg Riedel, even contributes a whimsical foreword and two ...

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