CD/LP/Track Review

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Vance Thompson's Five Plus Six: Such Sweet Thunder

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For the mathematically challenged, Vance Thompson's Five Plus Six equals eleven. In other words, it's Thompson's working quintet, the Marble City Five, amplified by half a dozen horns. On its debut recording, the Knoxville, TN-based ensemble performs music by Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Thelonious Monk and--brace yourself--country singer Dolly Parton. In fact, Parton's “Little Sparrow," the album's longest-playing track at 10:21, lends itself surprisingly well to the jazz idiom, thanks in part to Thompson's engaging chart, as does the Appalachian folk song “He's Gone Away" (dedicated to bassist Charlie Haden who died July 11, 2014). The session ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rob Mazurek and Black Cube SP: Return the Tides: Ascension Suite and Holy Ghost

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Return the Tides is a heart-felt tribute to Rob Mazurek's mother, Kathleen Mazurek, who died on May 4, 2013, just days after receiving a diagnosis of late stage cancer. Her sudden and unexpected passing motivated Mazurek to honor her generous spirit through music that would, in his words, “clear a path for my mother into the unknown to ensure her safe journey to the next." Although currently based in Chicago, Mazurek returned to Brazil, where he lived from 2000-2008, to call upon his closest friends and associates for help with this project. In addition to his Sao Paulo ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chad Eby Quartet: The Sweet Shel Suite

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Reading poet Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree once again as an adult, it is improbable that one would take away the same message as you did reading the book as a child. The boy in the story grows up playing in the branches of the tree and eating its fruit, eventually cutting the trunk for wood. In the end, the giving tree has nothing left to give, except for a stump to sit on. Is the book about unselfish friendship, or man's eco-terrorism? Is it counterpart to Siddhartha and unconditional love? The answer of course is yes, yes, and yes. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

InterStatic: Arise

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British-reared keyboardist Roy Powell (Mumpbeak, Naked Truth)has called Norway home for several years while serving as a prime motivator for this futuristic UK-based, record label via sideman duties, and co-leading groups such as Interstatic. The band pushes the envelope yet again on this psycho, acid-rock slant on the jazz organ trio format. Nonetheless, the trio ups the ante a bit on its third album, featuring ECM Records recording artist Jacob Young and notable session drummer Jarle Vespestad. A little genre-busting goes a long way, as the musicians project a no-holds-barred line of attack, incited by Davis' old school like wah-wah ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

George Gee: Swing Makes You Happy!

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The George Gee Orchestra swings in the manner of Gee's friend and mentor, Count Basie, albeit on a somewhat smaller scale (Gee's group numbers only eleven, and that includes vocalists Hilary Gardner and John Dokes). Even so, the Basie spirit is ever-present, and if Swing Makes You Happy, Gee's eighth album as leader (and first for Rondette Records) should put a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Thanks to resourceful charts by trombonist / music director David Gibson, the ensemble generates a larger-than-expected sound while swinging its way through nineteen buoyant numbers, four associated with Basie ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Harvey Wainapel: Amigos Brasileiros Vol 2

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The beautiful, gentle musical spirit of the late Thiago de Mello--a most influential composer, instrumentalist, arranger and producer from the Amazon (and leader of the Brazilian large ensemble Amazon)--floats like a friendly ghost throughout Amigos Brasileiros Vol. 2. Harvey Wainapel boasts serious jazz chops, on clarinet and saxophone; and serious jazz credentials, including work with saxophonists Joe Henderson and Joe Lovano, vibes master Gary Burton and pianists McCoy Tyner, Ray Charles and Kenny Barron (whom Wainapel honored with Ambrosia: The Music of Kenny Barron [1996, A Records/Challenge Records]). But a different musical flame sparked inside Wainapel the first ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

konstruKt and Joe McPhee: Babylon: The First Meeting of Istanbul

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Taken at face value, konstruKt's catchphrase, “Free Jazz from Turkey," seems a tad pedestrian. But, if one considers Turkey's place in the world-literally the crossing point between Asia and Europe-its crazy-quilt ethnic diversity, and its continued religious and political unrest, it's a fitting metaphor. Oddly, most of the band's recorded output features invited guest artists from the US and Europe. In addition to multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, featured here, konstruKt has collaborated with Evan Parker, Marshall Allen, Peter Brotzmann and Eugene Chadbourne among others, and their next album is a collaboration with Japanese saxophonist Akira Sakata. Such collaborations can be artistically ...



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