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Robert Plant: lullaby and …The Ceaseless Roar

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Singer Robert Plant's interesting and colorful journey in music continues further with a brilliant new outing named lullaby and ... The Ceaseless Roar. For one thing, this record shows that as Plant gets older he does wondrous things but settle down. His former band casts a long shadow in today's music, with Led Zeppelin as popular as ever, and in a year that saw the band's albums re-released in lavish box sets and various audio formats, Robert Plant takes a new turn with this record. When he embarked on a solo career he seemed to be deliberately distancing ...

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Marko Churnchetz: Devotion

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Recorded in Brooklyn in April 2012 this excellent modern Quartet session led by Slovenian born pianist and composer Marko Churnchetz (native spelling is Črnčec) only recently saw the light of day in July 2014 courtesy of London's enlightened Whirlwind label. The delay is all the more inexplicable given the prominent contributions of hot saxophonist Mark Shim, who played on those wonderful recent Steve Lehman records Mise en Abime and Travail, Transformation & Flow. While this is Churnchetz's Whirlwind debut, he has released two previous albums as a leader Moral Interchange and Signature (both in 2010) and a couple ...

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Jason Jackson: Inspiration

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Jason Jackson is an outstanding versatile and well-heeled New York-based trombonist. Somehow, you don't hear his name mentioned along with peers like Robin Eubanks, Steve Turre, Steve Davis, John Fedchock, and Conrad Herwig. Perhaps that's because Jackson plays first chair in big bands, studio work, and Broadway musicals. He doesn't often link up with small groups or front his own, where musicians achieve their notoriety. In addition, his style represents the by now “classic" meld of swing, bebop, and post bop rather than being exhortative, exploratory, and experimental. He hones well-crafted improvisations within the legacy of one of his mentors, ...

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Phil Haynes’ “No Fast Food” Trio: In Concert (2014)

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A jazz trio called “No Fast Food" is more likely to appeal to a sophisticated audience rather than attract the legion of average jazz fans, and this album will no doubt appeal to just such serious listeners who will take the time to digest it. Phil Haynes, Dave Liebman, and Drew Gress are seasoned players, all of whom strive for a synthesis of mainstream jazz with rich innovation, while mostly avoiding the free and avant garde connotations. This album, recorded at live venues, is, despite its abstract and exploratory quality, remarkably listenable and even infused with humor. That is because ...

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Mark Turner: Lathe of Heaven

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Given that he's participated on no fewer than six recordings on ECM over the past six years-- two this year alone, with drummer Billy Hart's sophomore effort for the label, One is the Other (2014), and pianist Stefano Bollani's career-defining Joy In Spite Of Everything (2014)--it's no surprise to find Mark Turner finally getting his own date on the venerable German label. That Lathe of Heaven is the saxophonist's first recording under his own name alone since 2001's Dharma Days (Warner Bros., 2001) only speaks to an approach to recording that is as painstakingly well thought-out as Turner's approach to ...

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Hiromi: Alive

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If jazz has become a niche market in the music industry (and it is), a contributing factor for its slide into cultural irrelevance is a failure to promote and support new artists. No matter what sub-genre of jazz you personally love, across the board there is no sustained effort to develop a roster of first-tier talent in jazz. Every so often along comes a Esperanza Spalding who joins the long list of previous “saviors" of jazz such as Wynton Marsalis or Robert Glasper and is saddled with the unasked-for responsibility of reviving interest in the incredibly shrinking jazz field.

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Erik Honore: Heliographs

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If patience is a virtue, then Erik Honoré is, indeed, one virtuous man. Over the past few decades he's built a busy career as a novelist and record producer in his home country of Norway, and has come to increasing international attention as co-Artistic Director of the Punkt Live Remix festival--that globe-trotting festival with a philosophy that is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary in its hometown of Kristiansand in September, 2014. He's also become a more active participant on recordings over the past few years, performing on recordings by trumpter Arve Henriksen like Cartography (ECM, 2008) and Places of ...

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Chick Corea Trio: Trilogy

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Remember when CDs were so expensive to make that record companies would release double albums and remove a track or two, just so that it could fit on a single CD? Well, there may be many negatives about the state of the music industry today---despite this being a time when so much music is being made that, like the glory days in the 1960s/70s, it seems like anything is possible...there's just no more industry support to help any of it reach the same number of people--but one good thing is that the price of manufacturing a CD has dropped so ...

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The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra: OverTime: Music Of Bob Brookmeyer

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Trumpeter Thad Jones and drummer extraordinaire Mel Lewis may have given birth to the band that's now known as The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, but the late Bob Brookmeyer gave the group artistic independence at a time when it was sorely needed. When Jones left the fold and departed for Europe at the tail end of the '70s, things could've gone a very different way for this storied outfit: it could've simply carried on as a pretty good band that covered Thad Jones' music, endlessly recycling songs of the then-recent past. The Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, né Thad ...

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Julie Kelly: Happy to Be

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Julie Kelly is a talented singer whose talents are a fairly well-kept secret except on the West Coast, where she makes her home. Happy to Be is Kelly's eighth album, the first on Graham Carter's Colorado-based Jazzed Media label, and as has been her custom in the past, she chooses for the most part interesting songs that aren't heard nearly often enough. Compositions by Dave Frishberg, Bob Dorough, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Richard Rodney Bennett and even Phoebe Snow are here, hanging out alongside engaging themes by such lesser-known but no less able writers as Bill Peterson, Jim Tomlinson and Susan ...

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Ira B. Liss: It's About Time

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So are there any first-rate big bands worth hearing in California outside of the Los Angeles area? So happy you asked. As a matter of fact, San Diego is solidly entrenched in that position thanks to the superb Ira B. Liss Big Band Jazz Machine which, coincidentally, has recorded a spectacular new album, It's About Time. Even though the Jazz Machine is now thirty-five years old, its various working parts remain untarnished, ensuring that no mishaps or glitches arise to impair a consistently bright and exhilarating studio session. To further underwrite its success, Liss persuaded a number ...

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Arve Henriksen: The Nature of Connections

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Few artists could call an album The Nature of Connections with as much veracity as Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen. There's been the myriad of collaborations on his own albums--just a small handful of the contributors to recordings including Places of Worship (Rune Grammofon, 2013), Cartography (ECM, 2008), Strjon (Rune Grammofon, 2007) and Chiaroscuro (Rune Grammofon, 2004) including producers/Punkt Festival co-directors Jan Bang and Erik Honoré; bassist Lars Danielsson; drummer Audun Kleive; Supersilent mates, keyboardist Ståle Storløkken and guitarist Helge Sten; singers David Sylvian and Trio Mediaeval's Anna Maria Friman; guitarist Eivind Aarset; and pianist Christian Wallumrød. And that doesn't account ...

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Offering: Live At Temple University

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Discovering unheard John Coltrane material is the Holy Grail for serious music devotees, and the imminent release (Sept.23,2014) of a 1966 live date in the form of Offering: Live at Temple University on the Impulse! label (in conjunction with Resonance Records and Universal Music) to join The Olatunji Concert and One Down, One Up Live at the Half Note in the Coltrane archive is good news, indeed, for those wishing to explore the iconic saxophonist's later years. Adding significantly to the first-class feel of this production is the inclusion of a 23-page liner booklet written by the always perceptive Ashley ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Stefano Bollani: Joy in Spite of Everything

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Anyone who's had the pleasure of watching pianist Stefano Bollani in concert--whether it's in duo with fellow Italian, trumpter Enrico Rava, at the 2009 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival; in the trumpeter's New York Days quintet at the ECM 40th Anniversary celebration, part of the 2010 Enjoy Jazz Festival; or in one of his own various contexts (solo, trio, large ensemble)--knows that, above all, joy is fundamental to the music he makes. Sometimes it's blatantly obvious, as on his 2013 duo release with bandolim master Hamilton De Holanda, O Que Sera (ECM), where these two virtuosos could barely contain themselves and ...



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