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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alexander McCabe / Paul Odeh: This Is Not A Pipe

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Are we having fun yet? Saxophonist Alexander McCabe and pianist Paul Odeh are, on a rollicking duo outing, This Is Not A Pipe. The frequent collaborators delve into a loose-jointed, roll and tumble examination of some jazz standards and McCabe originals. The word “seamless" is an often used--some would say over-used--as a description of a recorded offering. This Is Not A Pipe is not that. It is about as Un-seamless as can be. It sounds as if two good friends who can say anything to each other have gotten themselves involved in a relaxed and kicked-back free-for-all conversation, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dee Alexander: Songs My Mother Loves

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The maternal influence on a musician should never be underestimated. There's a degree of love, guidance, nurturing and support that only a mother can provide, and plenty of jazz artists have taken the time to express their appreciation for this fact: violinist Regina Carter did so with the touching I'll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey (Verve, 2006), trumpeter Dave Douglas explored the hymns and folk songs that his mother had asked to be played at her funeral on Be Still (Greenleaf, 2012), and plenty of others haven't been shy about expressing their feelings about dear old mom in song ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alexander Hawkins Ensemble: Alexander Hawkins: Step Wide, Step Deep

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You don't need to spend long in the company of pianist Alexander Hawkins to realize that his encyclopedic knowledge of jazz encompasses everything from Duke Ellington to the avant-garde. That's as true of recordings as it is in person, and amply demonstrated on Step Wide, Step Deep, where the moods range from lazy Sunday afternoon to bristling polyphony. Even though the line up has changed since the excellent All There Ever Out (Babel Label, 2012), the combination of fierce musical intelligence and unfettered creativity remains the same. Hawkins has assembled a unit that's comfortable across multiple genres. Guitarist ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Francois Carrier / Michel Lambert / Alexey Lapin: The Russian Concerts Volume 1

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Back in 2011, this trio released an excellent trilogy of albums which documented a December 2010 tour of Russia by Canadian alto saxophonist Francois Carrier and his long-time drummer Michel Lambert during which they played with Russian pianist Alexey Lapin in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Now, The Russian Concerts Volume 1 again documents the three together in Moscow, but this is not a fourth record of the 2010 tour, instead being the first (of several, judging by its title) from April 2013. The music come from two consecutive days--three pieces recorded on April 27th at DOM Cultural Center and one ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

François Tusques / Alexandra Grimal / Sylvain Guérineau: La Jungle du Douanier Rousseau

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This ad-hoc French trio brings tenor saxophone players and free improvisers--Sylvain Guérineau, who is also a gifted painter, and Alexandra Grimal to the musical universe of veteran pianist Francois Tusques, who began to play jazz in post-war France and was a close associate of expatriate Americans like Don Cherry and The Art Ensemble of Chicago during the late 1960's. La Jungle du Douanier Rousseau--its title refers to the naïve paintings of post-impressionist Henri Rousseau--was recorded live and carries the exploratory spirit of the free jazz of the sixties. The ten pieces unfold like a long suite ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jamie Alexander Smith: Kinesis

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Kinesis, from the young Edinburgh based pianist Jamie Alexander Smith, is sub-titled Four Improvisations On Piano. The sub-title pretty much explains things--on a basic level and except for the fact that a fifth track, “WKG," puts in an appearance. Of course, while the basic level of explanation hints at Smith's compositional approach and makes his instrument of choice clear, it doesn't give any real indication of the music on offer. So what can be expected from the improvising pianist? Maybe some free-form passages, some aggressive pounding on the keyboard, dissonance? Smith is never in thrall to these improvisational ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eric Alexander: Chicago Fire

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When weighing the merits of tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, two words spring readily to mind: prolific and consistent. Alexander, an implacable workhorse even in his mid-40s, has since 1992 recorded no less than thirty-seven albums as leader of his own groups and appeared on many others as a sideman. As for consistency, Alexander has been widely praised, and rightly so, for his awesome technique and seemingly endless reservoir of eye-opening ad libs. In other words, he approaches every theme with the utmost precision and within his sphere has never been known to deliver a solo that is less than earnest ...



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