Glenn Astarita joined All About Jazz in 1997
Longtime contributor to AAJ and Downbeat, Jazz Review, EjazzNews, Radio DirectX.
Saxophonist David S. Ware's relevance as a composer is highlighted on this outing performed by his longstanding supporting trio. Pianist Matthew Shipp's climactic chord clusters sometimes mimic Ware's strenuous phrasings and complex means of building a melody. Anyone familiar with Ware's recordings should be aware of the freer aspects enveloping his musical totality. But generally somewhere amid the often hyper-mode group interplay are tuneful themes embedded amid his methodology. To that end, this release presents a very effective, yet contrasting twist to the saxophone's artistry.
DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid
Celestial Mechanix: The Blue Series Master Mix
Thirsty Ear Records
DJ Spooky has undeniably emerged as one of the more imaginative artists of the new millennium. He crosses genres such as hip-hop, ambient electronica, jazz, funk and more. However, the DJ's muse is also founded upon wit and social commentary, witnessed here on this most compelling two-CD extravaganza. The artist produced, mixed, and arranged this outing, featuring remixes of pieces performed by fellow Blue Series artists Matthew Shipp and violinist Mat Maneri. Spooky's latest projects a tone and vibe that might suggest a history of contemporary music that has become dissimulated and reengineered from scratch.
The Richard Leo Johnson Trio
Poetry Of Appliance
Guitarist Richard Leo Johnson is primarily self-taught. However, there wouldn't be a hint of that here on this superlative effort. Along with keyboardist Andrew Ripley and electric/acoustic violinist Ricardo Ochoa, the guitarist fuses a starkly organic foundation with ringing electronic overtones. Johnson's unique tuning practices on his various acoustic guitars offer a point of interest, besides his starkly recognizable technical faculties. With this release, Johnson and his trio intermingles lush melodies with sprightly choruses. Yet there's a prevailing sense of movement and excitement that envelops this gorgeously recorded production. The band soars into the red zone on occasion. And it's partly rooted within an underlying sense of structure, augmented by the artists' bustling dialogues. Dynamics abound, even within pieces that are built upon quaint melodies. Count this among the top ten productions for 2004, regardless of any rigidly defined musical classifications.
British finger-style guitar master Adrian Legg's latest effort includes strings accompaniment and solo spots. Legg's curvy, intersecting lines and gorgeously constructed melodies shine forth like narratives, or perhaps picturesque little tone poems. Other than a few tear-jerker themes, Legg's craft includes English folk and slices of Americana. Listening to this recording is akin to being absorbed by a stirring, cinematic documentary.
Kent Carter String Trio
The Willisau Suites
Highly regarded bassist Kent Carter's resume includes stints with some of the finest modern jazz improvisers known to mankind, including the late Steve Lacy. These 1984 studio tracks were originally issued in 1988 for the ITM record label. This reissue includes two previously unreleased tracks culled from a 1997 session. The trio includes violinist Carlos Zingaro, violist Emmanuelle Roch and others, performing on various pieces. Essentially, the music boasts variable flows and asymmetrical instances of chamber-style interplay shaded with improvisational movements. It's difficult to categorize, though. You'll hear harrowing musical vistas, fragmented waltz grooves, stately themes, and festive galas. Marked by classical overtones and semi-structured elements, Carter and associates present an all-embracing musical portraiture here.
Testimony Live (Double Live DVD)
Here's your chance to see multi-instrumentalist Neal Morse's superb Testimony two-CD set performed live along with his octet. Conceptualized upon his personal relationship with a higher being, Morse interleaves exultant choruses with hard-driving progressive-rock stylizations. Featuring "Dream Theater" drumming hero Mike Portnoy and a cast of multitasking artists, the band exudes a vivacious demeanor during the sum of these thoughtfully designed parts. Morse's religious convictions are parlayed through these crafty compositions. He plays to the crowd in an endearing manner. Yet his intense musical aura equates to thrills a minute, enhanced by fiery percussion interludes, scorching guitar and electric cello lines, among other niceties. In addition, the band's impetus is captured rather effectively by the camera crew, who maintain various angles and overhead-based footage.
The Cavalcade of Music Foundation Presents
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