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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spiral Mercury - Chicago/Sao Paulo Underground featuring Pharoah Sanders: Pharoah & The Underground

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Renowned tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and new music, jazz-centric pioneer, cornetist Rob Mazurek bridge alternate generations of avant-gard-isms with this highly persuasive and indubitably, audacious production. It's an electro-acoustic meeting of futuristic minds, intersecting the trumpeter's Sao Paulo Underground and Chicago Underground ensembles. Moreover, they yield intergalactic nods to classic space rock via Guilherme Granado's inventive electronics, synths and samples permutations along with Matthew Lux's pumped up bass lines and Chad Taylor's sweeping drums patterns amid several distinctive indicators throughout. Several movements are modeled with blustery flights of fancy, complemented and expounded upon by Sanders and Mazurek's flourishing ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chicago Jazz Philharmonic: Sketches of Spain Revisited

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One by one, the trio of classic big-band collaborations by Miles Davis and Gil Evans is being rediscovered and reinvented by contemporary jazz ensembles: Miles Ahead, Porgy & Bess and last but not least, the tasteful and picturesque Sketches of Spain, reappraised here by trumpeter Orbert Davis (no relation to Miles) and the splendid Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. Besides composing, adapting and orchestrating the music, Orbert Davis sits in for his celebrated namesake on solo trumpet. What makes these new Sketches especially intriguing is the fact that Davis has seen fit to retain the original album's opening and ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Chicago Transit Authority / Chicago II / Chicago III

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Chicago, the rock band, is not what you remember. Well, it is, but it's also more than that. The Chicago you remember is the hit machine of the '70s: “25 or 6 to 4," “Beginnings," “Make Me Smile," “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" and many others. Of course, Chicago is also the wimp rock machine of the '80s: “Hard to Say I'm Sorry," “Hard Habit to Break," “You're the Inspiration" and “Will You Still Love Me?" Rough stuff. But wait--there's a third Chicago, the band you don't remember, and maybe never heard. It ...

HIGHLY OPINIONATED

Sing a Mean Tune, Kid: Chicago for people who hate Chicago

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When people rebuff my attempts to share my love of jazz-pop-rock group Chicago with them, I understand their qualms. Really, I do. Few bands went from being quite so inventive to quite so predictable in the long, tough slog between 1968 and 1984. (The political parallels alone are terrifyingly relevant: many of the exact same people who were in SDS went on to become Yuppies by the midpoint of the Reagan years, but I digress.) So, I understand when people tell me why they don't like Chicago. I might disagree, but I do understand. These are good folk ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chicago: Chicago VII

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Consider the curious case of Chicago, the rock band. This is a group that has lived several lives--some wild, some mild. In the late 60s and early 70s, Chicago was at the cutting edge of rock. Its lead guitarist, Terry Kath, was favorably compared to Jimi Hendrix--by Jimi himself. Its horn section sometimes featured wild improvisations bordering on avante garde and free jazz. The band rocked. It was good. Later, of course, Chicago drowned in shmaltz, especially whenever Peter Cetera crooned a corny ballad. This was the mildest, most inoffensive band imaginable, at a time when ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chicago Underground Duo: Locus

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For over 17 years Rob Mazurek and Chad Taylor have collaborated as the Chicago Underground Duo, a long-running partnership that has served as the core foundation for larger configurations of the group, including Trio, Quartet and Orchestra. The expansive nature of the ensemble's fluctuating personnel and the subsequent diversity of music produced has been a direct reflection of the founding members' varied interests and ensuing career paths.Mazurek's reputation as a bold electro-acoustic sound sculptor is well established, but belies the fact that his fundamentals as a cornetist lie in traditional hard bop--a robust foundation for his increasingly adventurous ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chicago Jazz Orchestra: Burstin' Out!

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Covering the Great American Songbook can be tricky, thankless work for a singer. The options for handling the material just aren't as numerous (i.e., nigh infinite) as they are for instrumentalists. Severely warping a melody, chopping it up or getting rid of it altogether work perfectly well if you're blowing through a horn. But such abstractions of voice can seem forced or simply too weird within a straight-ahead format. There's scatting, of course, and other forms of nonverbal vocalization, but they rarely score on the same level as instrumental solos, and they can turn stale or quaint-sounding pretty quickly.

LIVE REVIEWS

Chicago: Westbury, NY, May 26, 2013

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Chicago NYCB Theatre at Westbury Westbury, NY May 26, 2013During the initial phase of its career, Chicago was considered the preeminent Jazz-rock fusion outfit, its musical mix considered quite revolutionary for its time. By the late 1970s, its music had become iconic. Tragedy struck, however, with the death of guitarist Terry Kath in 1978. Though it took a little while for the band to again find its way, in the 1980s Chicago cemented its place among platinum recording outfits by slightly altering its sound and focusing more on ballads. Over the years, the band has ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chicago Trio: Velvet Songs to Baba Fred Anderson

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Drawn from two nights at Chicago's legendary Velvet Lounge, this double-disc set by three of the Windy City's finest provides fitting tribute to that establishment's late proprietor. Tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson was held in high esteem for his support for young musicians, non-judgmental direction, and provision of a space to experiment and perform. That the music was recorded two years prior to Anderson's passing lessens neither the saxophonist's influence nor the depth of feeling behind the dedication.Going under the moniker Chicago Trio, reedman Ernest Dawkins, drummer Hamid Drake and bassist Harrison Bankhead are well-versed in the flowing spontaneous ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Darren Johnston's Gone To Chicago: The Big Lift

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Canada-reared, but calling San Francisco home since 1997, trumpeter and composer Darren Johnston delves into the Chicago's avant, modern-jazz establishment and kicks off a vibrant set, with prominent constituents of The Windy City's fertile soundscape. With The Big Lift, the trumpeter's ascending status within the outer reaches of jazz attains another hierarchical level. Peppered by an undulating groove-quotient, the ensemble combines a frothy and infectious mode of attack by incorporating the blues, mainstream jazz, and avant-garde musings with ethereal overtones and pumping rhythms. These aspects come to fruition with a carbonated thrust on the bouncy “Glass Ceiling, Paper ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Junior Wells’ Chicago Blues Band: Hoodoo Man Blues

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Being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame could, in the overall scheme of things, mean everything or nothing, considering that Hoodoo Man Blues is as powerful an example of the Chicago Blues as has ever been captured on record. Singer/harmonicist Junior Wells was one of those surprisingly rare individuals who knew how to stir an audience without showboating, and if one had been present on these recording sessions from September 22 and 23, 1965, chances are it would have pinned every level going, with the frenzy whipped up by this music. It should comes as no ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chicago Yestet: Jazz Is Politics?

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For an introduction to the Chicago jazz scene, look no further than the Chicago Yestet's line-up on Jazz Is Politics?. From drummer Dana Hall (Terell Stafford) to John Wojciechowski, a finalist in the 1996 Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition, the roster reads like a who's who in Midwestern jazz. Staying true to the album's namesake, the Yestet opens with the “The Decider," a track featuring audio clips from former President George W. Bush speech, famously giving himself the same title. The lyrical styling of emcee Rob Dz here, and elsewhere in the set again nods at the album ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Peter Brotzmann Chicago Tentet +1: London, UK, April 18-20, 2011

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Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet +1Café OtoLondon, UKApril 18-20, 2011 Since its inception in 1997, Peter Brötzmann's Chicago Tentet has become one of the foremost large groupings in free jazz, not least because of its unrivalled roster of talent and its durability as a unit. When asked how he had kept such an exceptional group of musicians together, German reed iconoclast Brötzmann replied: “Doing it for such a long time tells me that they want to do it." As he explained to BBC Radio's Jazz on Three in a live interview on the final night, it ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Placido Domingo, The Chicago Symphony Orchesta and Chorus, Daniel Barenboim: Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique - La Marseillaise

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There was no one man in the French Romantic Movement more hot-blooded than composer Hector Berlioz (1803-1869). Proficient in no particular instrument, Berlioz's talent lay in composition, arrangement, and conducting. The entire orchestra was his instrument. Learned, erudite, and all around sanguine wild man, Berlioz existed in the rarefied company of other great Romanticists including Liszt, Wagner, Paganini, Chopin and Schumann. Berlioz's most noted composition was his five-movement symphony Symphonie Fantastique, composed and premiered in 1830. The symphony had a “program" or storyline telling of a “an artist gifted with a lively imagination," who has “poisoned himself ...



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