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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jax Jazz Collective: Lotus Blossom: The Music of Billy Strayhorn

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Duke Ellington (1899-1974)--Americas's finest bandleader, America's finest composer--released his own tribute to Billy Strayhorn, his partner in music and tune smithing. It was called ...And His Mother Called Him Bill (RCA, 1967). Ellington and Strayhorn's music was so intertwined that the Duke's less that fanatic fans might think that “Lush Life," “Take the A Train" and “Lotus Blossom" are Ellington tunes. But those classics, and many more, came from the prolific and always elegant pen of Strayhorn. Now the Jax Jazz Collective, under the leadership of pianist Joshua Bowlus, offers up Strayhorn in a small group outing with ...

October 2014

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I was playing piano in a building lobby where I perform regularly. A woman walked past the piano and discreetly left something at the far end (it's a grand piano). When I finished the song, I walked around the piano to see what she'd left. Turned out it was her trash! I'm a little old and out of touch so I'm wondering: Is that okay nowadays? --Don't Understand Selfish Treatment By Inconsiderate Nutjob Dear DUSTBIN: When you call it “trash," I wonder if you're being too ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Frank Kimbrough: Quartet

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The majority of pianist Frank Kimbrough's albums have focused on the piano trio format, but he's certainly willing to try other things; he made that clear by recording in a duo with vibraphonist Joe Locke on more than one occasion, putting together a bass-less quartet for Noumena (Soul Note, 2000), and going it alone on Air (Palmetto, 2007). Now, with the plainly-titled Quartet, Kimbrough does it again. This time he's at the helm of a foursome that includes a pair of his colleagues from the Maria Schneider Orchestra--bassist Jay Anderson and saxophonist Steve Wilson--and drummer Lewis Nash, who Kimbrough first ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Charles Lloyd: Manhattan Stories

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Manhattan Stories is a trip back in time, a journey to a long gone and long-missed era. It's a window into the great Charles Lloyd's art at a period of transition. The shows presented on this beautifully packaged two-disc set--one recorded at the infamous Slugs' Saloon in the summer of 1965, the other recorded at Judson Hall in September of the same year--took place shortly after Lloyd left the employ of Cannonball Adderley and before he became a cross-over sensation and hero to hippies, moving a million units of Forest Flower: Charles Lloyd At Monterey (Atlantic, 1966). ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Heckman Quintet: Search for Peace

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Steve Heckman says he was inspired to play the tenor saxophone after hearing John Coltrane, especially Coltrane's A Love Supreme. Luckily, Heckman did not follow his mentor completely off the deep end but remained instead true to his bop-bred roots while developing a singular voice of his own on the tenor. On Search for Peace (a title Coltrane would no doubt have endorsed), San Francisco-based Heckman's fourth album as leader, Trane's impact is never far away but has been tempered by Heckman's experience and exposure to a number of other exemplars including (but not limited to) Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Horace Tapscott: The Tapscott Sessions, Volumes 1-8

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Horace Tapscott began his musical career as a trombonist, and during the early part of the 1950s played in the Gerald Wilson big band. It wasn't until his US Army tour of duty in the late 1950s that he studied piano. He subsequently gave up the trombone due to an automobile accident while on tour with Lionel Hampton and settled in 1961 in Los Angeles to concentrate on piano. Tapscott came to an obscure form of prominence in that period as a rebellious pianist during a time when New York was quickly becoming recognized as the center of the avant-garde ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Louis Sclavis Quartet: Silk and Salt Melodies

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After reinventing himself with a completely revamped ensemble on Sources (ECM, 2012), reed multi-instrumentalist Louis Sclavis expands the purviews and possibilities of his Atlas Trio by adding percussionist Keyvan Chemirani to the mix for Silk and Salt Melodies. Sclavis has, in his 33-year career as a leader--and since coming to ECM Records in 1991 with the recording of Rouge (1992)--made a life's work of regular reinvention, both contextually in terms of lineup and stylistically through a broad cross-section of projects ranging from the fully unplugged, improv-heavy but still composition-based Acoustic Quartet (1994) and image-inspired blend of form and freedom on ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Live From Birmingham: The Pedigree Jazz Band, Tony Bennett, The Fat Chops Big Band

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The Pedigree Jazz Band Solihull British Legion September 7, 2014 It's a curious sensation when tributes are paid to revivals of revivals. Down the decades since the original jazz repertoire was established in the 1920s, '30s, and even earlier, there have been a multitude of responses, counter-responses, exhumations and celebrations. The Pedigree Jazz Band is currently presenting A Tribute to Trad Jazz, a show that's culled from their two albums of the same name. They gaze back fondly to the British traditional jazz revival of the 1950s, with hoary old New Orleans and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Adam Meckler Orchestra: When The Clouds Look Like This

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The image that adorns the cover of When The Clouds Look Like This--three weathered valves rising from the mist, a finger button inexplicably missing from the middle valve--is something of a mystery. Is it a riddle? A metaphor of some sort? Or is it simply an image that appealed to these musicians? Only those involved with the project can answer those questions, but the cover is certainly thought provoking, just like the music that sits beneath it. Adam Meckler--a composer-educator-trumpeter who's toured with Todd Clouser's A Love Electric, Youngblood Brass Band, and numerous other groups--brought together a ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Marcin Wasilewski Trio w/ Joakim Milder: Spark of Life

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What do you do when you've released three albums as a trio (more, if you include albums released in Poland, prior to coming to the label) for a producer who traditionally seems to like shaking things up after that magic number? For Polish pianist Marcin Wasilewski and his longstanding trio--first coming together in their teens, they've been together more than two decades, and first recorded for ECM with trumpeter Tomasz Stanko for a triptych of evolutionary albums that began with 2002's Soul of Things and concluded with the far maturer Lontano (2006)--there have been two moves in 2014: first, show ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Philip Corner: Satie Slowly

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Pianist Philip Corner slows down Erik Satie and shows where Philip Glass, Terry Riley and Steve Reich came from. Satie Slowly is exactly that: the piano music of Satie vastly slowed down compared to most contemporary performances and recordings. The lengthy subtitle to the release says it all: “Avoid All Sacrilegious Exaltation." The large insert, assembled from Corner's papers over the last 40 years, note: If his piano pieces are so easy why are they so badly played? What they have this must not be violated is an objectivity allthemore solid for being so fragile...they resist all ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Ray Charles: Genius Love Company – 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

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"The way these days just rip along, too fast to last, too vast, too strong..." --Jackson Browne The final recording of Ray Charles, Genius Loves Company, enjoys its tenth anniversary. It is striking to consider that it has been over ten years since the death of Ray Charles, one of the most imposing figures in American music. The music made in the second half of the twentieth century has had a remarkable staying power owing partially to its revolutionary quality and the near frantic dedication of the Post-World War II Baby Boom generation. Charles' contributions to this ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tyshawn Sorey: Alloy

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From an early age composer/drummer/educator Tyshawn Sorey has found creative outlets in not just music but in painting and literature as well. Never one to compartmentalize his own imagination, he has enthusiastically explored blues, gospel, classical and music for dance so it seems quite natural that his current music defies categories. Whether listening or writing, he takes a non-judgmental approach to the way he engages with music, preferring possibilities over prescription. Sorey has recorded or performed with a veritable who's-who of modern music including trumpeters Wadada Leo Smith and Dave Douglas, saxophonists Anthony Braxton, John Zorn and Tim Berne, and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tommy Igoe: The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy

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Jazz audiences in the Bay Area are starting to realize what their New York counterparts have known for years--namely, that drummer Tommy Igoe puts together a hell of a band and puts on a hell of a show. Igoe, the man who gave rhythmic life to Broadway's The Lion King and changed the face of drum set pedagogy with his Groove Essentials books, has been tearing it up on Friday nights with The Birdland Big Band since 2006; now he's out to conquer the other coast. Igoe still drops in at Birdland when he can, living something ...



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