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Jazz Articles

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS April 18, 2014

Kenny Werner: Effortless Mastery In Motion

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By DAN BILAWSKY

In the early moments of Effortless Mastery: The Four Steps, pianist Kenny Werner notes that he never aspired to be a guru; nevertheless, he's viewed as one by a significant number of musicians. If Werner had never put a single word on paper or shared a single thought about the art of playing, practicing, and learning, he'd still be recognized as a major musical figure. Over the course of the past three-plus decades, he's done everything from solo dates to grand-scale work with orchestras, and he's played with everybody from saxophonist Joe Lovano to harmonica ace Toots ...

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EXTENDED ANALYSIS April 18, 2014

Chris Standring: Don't Talk, Dance!

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By JEFF WINBUSH

If jazz is to avoid being relegated to the pit of obsolescence where VCR's, pet rocks and NBC's fall lineup for the last five years has been consigned to it won't be enough to simply continue catering to the true believers and faithful die-hards that currently maintains the genre. Jazz will have to go places it hasn't been before and go after potential listeners who think of it as the music their grandparents listened to. One of those places are clubs where people gather not to be hipsters draining their glasses of wine and proclaiming how the masses ...

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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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LIVE REVIEWS April 17, 2014

Live From Old York: Mokoomba, Alistair Anderson, Dan Walsh & The Toasters

By MARTIN LONGLEY

Mokoomba The National Centre For Early Music April 10, 2014 This gig was on the ninth night of a 12-date tour, so Zimbabwe's Mokoomba were well primed for action, tightly configured and slickly earthy. The UK itinerary was assembled by the Making Tracks organisation, who are dedicated to presenting global sounds from all lands. Their taste is always trusty. As is often the case for gigs presenting such rootsy fare, the NCEM was surely close to a sell-out, with throngs spread around the converted church's walls, either for a better view, or a ...

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LIVE REVIEWS April 17, 2014

Joshua Redman Quartet at Musical Instrument Museum

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By PATRICIA MYERS

Joshua Redman Quartet Musical Instrument Museum Phoenix, Arizona April 3, 2014 Saxophonist Joshua Redman played tribute to past tenor greats, putting his personal imprint on each chart, from Wayne Shorter's “Infant Eyes" to Joe Henderson's “Tetragon" and the sax standard, “Oleo" by Sonny Rollins. Performing with the quartet he formed in 1998--pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Gregory Hutchinson--Redman verified his nearly three-decade command of the tenor in boisterous exuberance and lyrical elegance. Redman opened his second show of the evening with his original," Disco Years," the tall, slender 45-year-old leader ...

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EXTENDED ANALYSIS April 17, 2014

Medeski, Martin & Wood + Nels Cline: Woodstock Sessions, Vol. 2

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By JOHN KELMAN

In retrospect, it was inevitable; why it took so long for veteran jazz jam band Medeski, Martin & Wood to get together with Nels Cline is anybody's guess. The über-guitarist has, since joining Wilco a decade ago, managed to significantly raise his visibility, but anybody who suggests that he's been “moonlighting" in the alt-country/alt-rock/alt-alt band to pay the rent hasn't been paying attention. Like keyboardist John Medeski, drummer Billy Martin and bassist Chris Wood, Cline's career has been largely associated with jazz--well, before Wilco, that is; that's all changed now--through his lengthy association with Cryptogramophone Records and albums with his ...

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INTERVIEWS April 16, 2014

Chuck Israels: Tribute to Bill Evans

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By ROBIN ARENDS

Isn't it nice to meet someone who takes time for a good chat in these hectic times? Especially if this person has a lot to tell, carries the living memory of an important part of jazz history, and is called Chuck Israels? Bassist/arranger/composer Chuck Israels is in expansive form for this interview conducted in a room of a former monastery in Oegstgeest, a small town in the Netherlands near the North Sea. He is happy to be reunited again with his long-time friend and pianist Hod O'Brien. During the interview, in the small hall beneath the room, Margot, ...

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MULTIPLE REVIEWS 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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LIVE REVIEWS April 16, 2014

Bradford-Gjerstad Quartet at Philadelphia Art Alliance

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By TYRAN GRILLO

Bradford-Gjerstad Quartet Philadelphia Art Alliance Philadelphia, PA March 29, 2014 Pivot or persevere? It's a question that frames every moment of jazz performance and one that suffused the Philadelphia Art Alliance loft, where on a rainy Saturday cornetist Bobby Bradford, reedman Frode Gjerstad, bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, and drummer Frank Rosaly cast their bones and divined whatever messages came spontaneously to mind. Under the auspices of the Ars Nova Workshop, which presents a yearly series of jazz and experimental music happenings, the Bradford-Gjerstad Quartet put theory to practice by collapsing any differences ...

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EXTENDED ANALYSIS April 15, 2014

Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: American Adventure

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By JOHN KELMAN

Sometimes an idea seems great on paper, but in execution doesn't exactly work out as planned. Other times, that same idea doesn't just look great, it actually exceeds already high expectations. When saxophonist Tommy Smith--almost single-handedly responsible for rebuilding a modern jazz scene in his home country of Scotland, where he returned after studying at Boston's Berklee College of Music in the 1980s and releasing a couple of well-regarded albums on Blue Note--brought his Scottish National Jazz Orchestra to the United States in the summer of 2013 for a short tour, he came up with the idea of hitting Avatar ...

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EXTENDED ANALYSIS April 15, 2014

Anne Mette Iversen's Double Life: So Many Roads

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By DAN BILAWSKY

Music making, like life itself, is all about balance. In both worlds, highs and lows, triumphs and tragedies, harmony and melody, chaos and order, the clinical and the emotional, the simple and complex, and so much more are constantly being balanced on the scales. Rarely are things in perfect equilibrium, yet so many people strive to reach that place; bassist Anne Mette Iversen is one of those people, and So Many Roads is her musical treatise on the art of balance. This work initially took shape as a travel down imaginary highways, but Iversen quickly realized that ...

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CATCHING UP WITH April 15, 2014

Barb Jungr: Loving Living Life

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By SAMMY STEIN

Barb Jungr brings her infectious enthusiasm to even the most mundane of things. A stroll in the park is turned into a gleeful discovery as she finds a stand of daffodils; a walk home is turned into delight as Jungr snaps a picture of London by night from a bridge. She has that knack of spotting something you never realized was there and making you look at ordinary things differently. She plays with phrases and words--like 'polyglot,' or 'loop of life' and 'pants' (to mean something is rubbish, in this case the M6 motorway). Jungr loves words--she loves music, people, ...

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INTERVIEWS April 14, 2014

Brian Blade: Fellowship - More Than Just a Word

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By JOHN KELMAN

In the 21st century, few drummers have managed Brian Blade's kind of crossover success. Beyond playing in saxophonist Wayne Shorter's quartet for nearly 15 years, beyond being a first-call drummer for producer/singer/songwriter Daniel Lanois--whether it's for his own projects like Black Dub or working with everyone from Bob Dylan to EmmyLou Harris--and beyond also being on-call with some of the most important names in modern music (not just jazz, but music) like Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones, John Scofield and Kenny Werner, Blade has forged a dual-career as both the co-founder of his more jazz-centric The Fellowship Band, and as an ...

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EXTENDED ANALYSIS April 14, 2014

Mark Weinstein: Latin Jazz Underground

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By DAN BILAWSKY

Has flautist Mark Weinstein run out of ideas on how to merge various dialects of Latin jazz with other musical tongues? The answer is a resounding “no." Latin Jazz Underground finds Weinstein saluting the loft jazz scene of the '70s by tackling the work of jazz iconoclasts-turned-icons--pianist Andrew Hill and saxophonists Ornette Coleman and Sam Rivers--and like- minded originals. That concept, in and of itself, doesn't distinguish this project, as plenty of people have traveled down those thorny paths, so the twist comes with the infusion of Afro-Cuban ideals. Such a marriage is a risky union, but ...

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