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Les McCann: Never Say No Again

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"Be who you are and not who you ain't. Because when you are who you ain't, you're not who you are." Keyboardist, vocalist, bandleader, songwriter and photographer Les McCann really talks like this. About his music, about musicians, about his career--about everything. I learned this during the following interview, scheduled to discuss Omnivore Records' March 2015 reissue of McCann's improvisational landmark Invitation to Openness, generally out of print since its original 1972 Atlantic Records' release; this reissue was ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Maria Schneider Orchestra: The Thompson Fields

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There's a wealth of information to be found inside the beautiful packaging that accompanies this release, but a brief Theodore Roosevelt quote may be the most telling piece of text to be found there. It reads: “There is nothing more practical in the end than the preservation of beauty, than the preservation of anything that appeals to the higher emotions in mankind." That really says it all about this artist and her work, for there is nobody more capable of ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Laid-Back Jazz Guitar: Kenny Burrell and Grant Green

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When I'm in the mood for jazz guitar, I have two go-to albums: Kenny Burrell's Midnight Blue and Grant Green's Idle Moments. It always surprises me. Growing up in the 1960s and '70s, I was a big fan of hard and fast rock guitars. Who wasn't? Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Pete Townsend. The Clash. The Pretenders. Joan Jett. Prince. Chuck Berry and George Harrison. It's got a backbeat you can't lose it. So when ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ivo Neame: Strata

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Taking a busman's holiday from his work with the award-winning Phronesis and the Kairos 4Tet, Strata is Ivo Neame's fourth innovative album released under his own name. Strident piano chords introduce “Personality Clash" where, following the opening ensemble theme and a piano solo combining both angularity and warmth,Jim Hart gives a masterclass in frenetic vibraphone soloing. Opening with two repeated piano notes, oscillating between C and F, synth-laden effects embellish the quietly fluid title track, underpinned by a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nuno Costa: Detox

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Portuguese guitarist Nuno Costa is heavily involved in music for film--his Berklee College of Music major was Film Scoring--so it's not surprising that his music often has a cinematic quality. This includes dramatic episodic compositional structures as well as programmatic song titles. Detox is his third album, following (...) -Reticências entre Parênteses (2009) and All Must Go (2012). The opener “Hum...?" contains the most electronic sounds on the album (courtesy of guitar effects), which contrasts with the mostly ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Rodriguez Brothers: Impromptu

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Those of us who have siblings know the special bond that brothers and sisters share. From being able to quote the same movies, to sharing memories of childhood and growing up, it's hard to deny that siblings have a unique connection. It should come as no surprise then, that this unique connection gives siblings a certain advantage when playing music together, especially music as intimate and conversational as jazz. Indeed, there is a rich history of brothers collaborating in jazz; ...

June 2015

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Dear Mr. P.C.: Is there a correlation between the better a person can play an accordion and the lower the economic scale he is in? Do skinny people ever play the tuba? I'll hang up and listen. --Kenneth Heard Dear Kenneth: I haven't heard the term “economic scale" before, but I assume it's some kind of scale with very few notes. The law of supply and demand tells us that each of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lars Seniuk / New German Art Orchestra: Pendulum

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German-born composer / arranger / trumpeter Lars Seniuk, who formed his first big band at age sixteen and has played with and written for many others since then, was barely twenty-six when Pendulum was recorded in Hamburg with the splendid New German Art Orchestra, an up-to-date version of the late Bob Brookmeyer's New Art Orchestra, established in Lubeck nearly three decades ago. As such, it is more a continuation and verification of Brookmeyer's legacy than an effort to traverse new ...



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