Multiple Reviews

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Two Konstantin Ionenko Releases

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Two recent releases from the Russian Fancy Music label feature bassist Konstantin Ionenko (they also have drummer Pavel Galitsky in common). Ionenko holds down the low end with an electric bass guitar, but the group sound on these recordings is primarily acoustic, with a bass approach similar to what a double bassist would play--no slapping or popping here. If these albums are indicative of the general quality of Russian jazz playing, there must be a deep bench. ...

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Dom's Duos: Dom Minasi Meets Blaise Siwula, Chris Kelsey, And Hans Tammen

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Improvising musicians all pay lip service to the idea of working without a net, but most end up building safety precautions--no matter how slight or subtle they may be--into their work. Dom Minasi, however, isn't one of those musicians. The indefatigable guitarist has no interest in sonic safeguards or insurance. He's a law unto himself, creating music that speaks to his intelligence, fearlessness, and mischievous nature. And while Minasi has been at it for half a century, he shows no ...

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Brooklyn Jazz Underground: A Trio of Hits

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Modern jazz has a problem. And Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records' recent slate of releases illustrates the growing dilemma: a surfeit of excellence. Across the spectrum, artists are innovating at such a high level and plumbing the depths of musical expression with such regularity that it's hard to keep pace (or avoid hyperbole). Jazz's aperture is wide open and BJUR's cultivation of creative music's cutting edge underscores that fact. The label's efforts also remind us that periodically throughout history ...

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Three contrasting Bertrand Denzler releases

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It seems that Swiss-born tenor saxophonist Bertrand Denzler is already involved in so many contrasting groupings that he would have no need to be joining or creating yet more. Active groupings of which he is a member include Hubbub, Mark Wastell's The Seen, Trio Sowari, Zoor, plus a trio with Eddie Prevost and John Edwards. Some others seem dormant, but not actually extinct, including the saxophone quartet Propagations, his own Bertrand Denzler Cluster, and a duo with Hans Koch. In ...

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Two INSUB releases

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When Switzerland's INSUB records issued its first two releases in a new format in early 2014, that innovative format got nearly as much attention as the music itself. Solving the download vs. physical object debate, its combination of attractive packaging (including A3 poster-size artwork) with a download code gave customers the best of both worlds. That solution was also compatible with the Insubordinations label's history; since 2006 its netlabel for improvised music has issued a steady stream of impressive downloads, ...

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Three From Intonema

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When the ninth and tenth releases on St. Petersburg's Intonema label were released, it was noteworthy that neither of them featured a Russian musician, despite the label's catalogue previously featuring such notable Russians as saxophonist Ilia Belorukov, bass guitarist Mikhail Ershov and pianist Alexey Lapin alongside a distinguished cast of fine overseas players. Happily, the label's three subsequent releases, below, have not continued that trend, as two of them feature Russians, including one solely by the Russian Andrey Popovskiy. And, ...

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The Art of the Guitar: Samo Salamon, Christer Fredriksen, Rez Abbasi & Juan Pablo Hernández

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The guitar is an instrument that continues to inspire musicians around the world and since early pioneers like Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian showed the endless possibilities of the instrument, the guitar has also been an important part of the evolution of jazz. One can certainly speak of a genre called jazz guitar, with characteristic chord shapes and patterns, but the thing that is noticeable about many of the new jazz guitarists is that they break away from standards and ...

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Eric Hofbauer Quintet: Prehistoric Jazz – Volumes 1 & 2

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With sure workmanship and untamed inquisitiveness, Boston-based guitarist Eric Hofbauer is no stranger to confronting unusual yet stimulating music. Examples include 2008's uncharacteristic guitar duo The Lady of Khartoum with Garrison Fewell or the striking American solo series--American Vanity (2004), American Fear (2010) and American Grace (2013)--which crossed distinctive terrains of improvisation and covers of iconic pieces such Louis Armstrong's “West End Blues," Cindy Lauper's “True Colors" and a raucous take on rock group Van Halen's “Hot for Teacher."



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