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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

José James: Yesterday I Had the Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday

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There are many reasons why singer Billie Holiday is so admired--her captivating beauty, crafted phrasing, and the singular way she imbued emotion through each note. Yet the jazz legend known as “Lady Day" not only sung the blues, she lived it. In a storied life filled with heartaches, hardships and personal demons that included a long struggle with substance abuse, she eloquently articulated and expressed many of those sentiments in albums such as Lady Sings the Blues (1956, Verve) and ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2015

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Cape Town International Jazz Festival Cape Town International Convention Centre Cape Town, South Africa March 27 & 28, 2015 The Cape Town International Jazz Festival takes place over two jam-packed nights, on five simultaneous stages. Now in its sixteenth year, it also includes a number of ancillary events during festival week: workshops, a photo exhibition, master classes, and an outdoor free concert in Greenmarket Square (on Wednesday night). The free concert offers a taste of ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Cassandra Wilson: Coming Forth by Day

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Cassandra Wilson is the most important jazz vocalist of the past thirty years. There. I said it. I meant it. It is out in the open (not that this was any secret). After an impressive jazz debut with Point of View (JMT, 1985), Wilson would release seven more well-received, if not underrated, recordings before she changed the entire jazz vocals setting with Blue Light 'til Dawn (Blue Note, 1993). Wilson's singing ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Turre: Spiritman

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There seems to be two schools among the current generation of jazz trombonists. On the one hand you have those who favor the lush and melodic voices of Frank Rosolino, Lawrence Brown, Carl Fontana, and those of a similar ilk. By contrast are the bop inflected approaches of J.J. Johnson and Curtis Fuller. Turre has gone on record that he doesn't much care for those in his peer group that eschew tone for speed and dexterity. As for Turre himself, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Barney McClure: Show Me!

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While organist Barney McClure receives top billing on this exhilarating new album, he is happy to share it, for good reason, with the superlative Central Washington University Jazz Band from Ellensburg. As McClure asserts in the liner notes, “I was no more than a lucky rider on the bus." Well, a bit more than that, Barney, as your dynamic Hammond B3 is as pivotal to its auspicious outcome as the band's inspired performance or Phil Kelly's sharp and resourceful charts. ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Vocal Jazz: 1917-1950

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There have been as many variations on the definition of vocal jazz as there have been people with opinions. Over the years, the consensus within the jazz community has shifted frequently as critics and fans have wrestled with the often-competing imperatives of improvisation and interpretation. For some people, vocal jazz should be exactly that -voices improvising solos in the manner of jazz instrumentalists. For others, that view disregards a singer's unique relationship to lyrics. At the turn of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mark Helias Open Loose: The Signal Maker

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Bassist Mark Helias runs a tight ship. Not in the sense of tricksy arrangements or impossible time signatures. It's more the laser sharp focus his accomplished Open Loose combo brings to the job in hand. And that job is breathing bustling and unpredictable life into the baker's dozen selections that constitute The Signal Maker, the unit's 7th release since 1998. Drummer Tom Rainey has been there since the inception, while saxophonist Tony Malaby is the new boy, having joined a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mari Koga: Perfect Blue

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Japanese-born vocalist Mari Koga has been living in New York for some time now, performing in the City's most prestige's jazz clubs and making a name for herself in one of the most vibrant jazz scenes around. With the help of long-time friend and fellow Japanese artist, pianist Chiemi Nakai, Koga now presents her astonishing debut album Perfect Blue, containing fresh new arrangements of a few jazz standards and brisk new originals with elements of Afro-Cuban rhythms comprising the main ...



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