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All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Multiple Reviews

April 18, 2014

The Wild, Eclectic World of Koichi Makigami's Hikashu Band

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By EYAL HAREUVENI

Japanese vocal artist Koichi Makigami's main musical vehicle has been his band Hikashu since the late seventies. This band embodies Makigami's colorful eclectic tastes and myriad vocal personalities. They succeed in tying together eccentric collective improvisations, Japanese theater traditions or elements from Japanese films and pop songs, references to progressive rock and wild, virtuoso vocal acrobatics. Hikashu's 21st album Bankan and the following EP Chakra Biraki [Chakra Opening] show that when it comes to Makigami and Hikashu, you can only expect the unexpected, but you are guaranteed to have tons of fun. Hikashu Bankan Makigami ...

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April 16, 2014

Celebrating Blue Note Records 75th With Delicious Vinyl

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By MARK CORROTO

Everything old is new again. Except of course for the timeless music of Blue Note Records which celebrated its 75th anniversary this year. The recordings Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff produced starting in 1939 have been collector's items since day one. While much of the label's music has been re-released in digital format, CDs and in iTunes, current chief Don Was decided to celebrate the 75th by compiling a list of 100 Blue Note Records to be released as remastered vinyl LPs. While half the fun of this list is arguing which other titles should have been included on the ...

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April 3, 2014

Swedish indie label Volenza relaunches

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By CHRIS MOSEY

At the age of 82, Torgil Rosenberg has decided that the time has come to take a back seat in the running his Swedish independent jazz label Volenza. “It's time for a new generation to take over," he says, “My future role in the company will be a purely advisory one." Daughter Lovisa and son Johannes have taken over the running of Volenza, with pianist Jan Lundgren tasked with finding and recording new talent, based largely, it seems, on his experience as a lecturer at the Academy of Music in the southern port city ...

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March 22, 2014

Latest Releases of Aural Terrains Label

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By EYAL HAREUVENI

The British label Aural Terrains continues to explore the extreme sonic terrains of electro-acoustic spontaneous improvisations, each different in its vivid atmosphere and suggestive sounds. The label's recent pair of releases feature two distinct outfits that present the arresting results of a careful, balanced mix of acoustics and electronics. Thanos Chrysakis / Ken Slaven / James O'Sullivan / Jerry Wigens Zafiros en el Barro Aural Terrains 2013 Zafiros en el Barro ("Sapphires in the Mud" in Spanish) was recorded in Madrid, Spain and features founder Thanos Chrysakis on laptop ...

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March 4, 2014

Four From The Posi-Tone Pile

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By DAN BILAWSKY

Some labels release a few records a year; some put out a record every month or two; and then there are those, like the Los Angeles-based Posi-Tone Records, that prefer to push even more music through the pipeline. As 2014 came into being, Posi-Tone began an ambitious release schedule, putting out a new album every few weeks. Those who cover jazz and follow the scene intently can't seem to turn around these days without bumping into one of their discs. Everything from groove dates to post-bop parties to beyond-the-norm entries fly under the banner of this small-but-thriving ...

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February 26, 2014

Two Intonema Releases: Lucio Capece and Vile Cretin

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By JOHN EYLES

The Intonema label released its first CDs in 2011 and has maintained a steady stream of noteworthy releases since, the current pair bringing the total to ten. One of the more remarkable features of Intonema is that it is a Russian label, based in St Petersburg--surely a measure of how far the world has evolved since the days when the only improvised music that emerged from the USSR (as it was at the time) had been smuggled out before being released on the nascent Leo label and championed by its redoubtable proprietor, Leo Feigin. Now that the Iron Curtain has ...

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February 24, 2014

Criss Cross Jazz Roundup

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By C. ANDREW HOVAN

In the past several years there has been a marked change in the jazz landscape that has somehow managed to further spread the demarcation lines between those musicians who practice mainstream leanings and those with a hyper vigilance towards the new avant-garde. Oddly enough, leave it to Criss Cross Jazz, a label that has historically been a harbinger of straight ahead diligence, to somehow bridge a healthy gap between the two camps with its roster of new talent. Three recent releases on the label eloquently illuminate the breath of scope possible with an approach that takes in all muses.

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February 21, 2014

Jonas Kullhammar Old and New Ways

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By EYAL HAREUVENI

Swedish great saxophonist Jonas Kullhammar always knew to position his musical activities in a rich historical, musical and artistic context, often with a sharp sense of humor. His tenor playing owes much to such great American post-bop sax players as John Coltrane (and his quartet covered recently Coltrane seminal A Love Supreme), but also to iconic Swedish fire-blowers Lars Gullin, Bernt Rosengren, with whom he recorded recently, and Gilbert Holmström. The two albums with Holmström New Quintet and his last one with his own quartet mark a conclusion of an era and opening of a new one for the ever-resourceful ...

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February 18, 2014

Ulysses Owens Jr.: Of Odysseys And Evolution

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By DAN BILAWSKY

The back panel of drummer Ulysses Owens Jr.'s Onward & Upward is adorned with a telling quote from spiritual teacher/writer Ernest Holmes. His statement, that “evolution is proof of an irresistible urge which pushes everything onward and upward," could be applied to myriad topics, but it truly captures the essence of jazz drumming through time; it also speaks of the protean pulsations produced by one of the instrument's rising stars. Owens' musical odyssey has taken him from Jacksonville, Florida to Julliard to the stages of the world, and though he's come quite a way in a relatively ...

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February 14, 2014

The Founder Effect Signals That Treader Is Alive And Well!

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By JOHN EYLES

The Treader label released its first CDs in late 2004. The label's distinctive Frauke Stegmann-designed sleeves, featuring embossed gold pictures of animals on plain backgrounds, made them instantly recognisable and collectable design classics. Rather than singly, the label always put out releases in series of three, the animals of each series sometimes being connected--mammals or birds, for instance. The music was made by a close-knit group of musicians centred around the label's proprietors and producers, Ashley Wales and John Coxon (together a.k.a. Spring Heel Jack), and never featured an ensemble larger than a quartet, with solos and duos predominating. For ...

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February 10, 2014

Latest from Danish Barefoot Records

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By EYAL HAREUVENI

The 2012 edition of the Copenhagen Jazz festival offered a musical snapshot of the vibrant and varied Danish improvisational scene and its strong ties with other European improv scenes. The festival hosted 18 concerts, organized by the music collective and record label Barefoot Records. Half of those concerts were recorded, enjoying the presence of many guests and ad-hoc outfits. The following albums feature a few of the highlights from that festival, with prominent members of this collective and two similar live recordings of collective members presenting mostly improvised music. Various Artists Ears On / Socks Off ...

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February 5, 2014

Live At Montmartre Series

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By CHRIS MOSEY

Recordings are now being made in Montmartre, the legendary Copenhagen jazz club, which--thanks largely to the efforts of pianist Niels Lan Doky--reopened in 2010. The original Montmartre started in 1959 as a venue for trad, which Scandinavians call “happy jazz." Stan Getz, who lived in the Danish capital from 1958-1961, introduced more modern sounds, followed by other expatriate Americans, including Ben Webster and Dexter Gordon. The club moved to larger premises and from 1976-1989 was a major European jazz venue, hosting many of the music's leading figures, including Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins ...

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February 5, 2014

INSUB Records Arrives

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By JOHN EYLES

Since 2006, the Geneva-based Insubordinations label has issued over sixty albums dedicated to experimental, improvised, electroacoustic and composed music, all of which remain freely downloadable under creative commons license. Now the label has launched an innovative new imprint, INSUB records, with two impressive releases. Strangely, the concept of the new venture is at odds with the inclusion of the word “records." For many of us, that word still conjures up images of vinyl discs (usually twelve inches in diameter) housed in cardboard sleeves decorated with artwork and, maybe, sleeve notes--objects which still attract a great deal of emotional attachment and ...

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January 26, 2014

Dominic Lash and Ricardo Tejero together

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By JOHN EYLES

Among a host of other activities too numerous to catalogue, bassist Dominic Lash and saxophonist / clarinetist Ricardo Tejero are both long-standing stalwarts of the London Improvisers Orchestra, so it was almost inevitable that they would gravitate towards each other in a smaller grouping at some point, as had happened with other LIO regulars. But, as these recordings illustrate, they now collaborate not just in one grouping but two with similarly eclectic repertoires. Lash has history in jazz and free improvising groups but, in recent years, has increasingly performed more modern compositions, notably by Wandelweiser members. Tejero began as a ...

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