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Avishai Cohen: From Darkness, a new trio studio album

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Avishai Cohen is prolific in music and words, a creative volcano who finds his raison d'être melting with the heart of his wooden instrument. Cohen, who arrived at the forefront of the jazz scene being part of the Chick Corea Sextet “Origin" (from 1996 to 2003), has developed a unique voice and personality as a bassist, but also as a composer and singer. Internationally renowned because of his Trio, accompanied by the pianist Shai Maestro and the drummer Mark Guiliana, it seems that he found in this number the perfect equilibrium to explore the vast world of the music roots ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Salif Keita at Yoshi's San Francisco

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Salif KeitaYoshi'sSan Francisco, CA September 7, 2014 Any opportunity to see Salif Keita, the 65-year-old “Golden Voice of Africa" is a special occasion indeed. Keita, a 40-year-plus veteran of the music scene, is one of Africa's top musical stars, one who travels all over the world. He sings in Malinké, a dialect of the Manding group of languages--prevalent but not predominant in many West African nations including Mali, Guinea, Senegal and the Ivory Coast but a language incomprehensible to most of his audience. Keita must hold his own through the command of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio: We're Back

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Drummer Gerry Gibbs must be in a “strike while the iron is hot" mode. Less than a year after his very successful Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio (Whaling City Sound, 2013), featuring Ron Carter on bass and Kenny Barron on piano, he has reconvened with those jazz legends for a second go around. This time, with We're Back, the trio moves away from the jazz standard format and goes after some of the classic R& B hits from the 60s and 70s. If that sounds like a good time, it is. Jazz can take itself too seriously, but ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bobby Wellins and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: Culloden Moor Suite

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It's over 268 years since the Battle of Culloden and yet the event continues to resonate in contemporary Scotland (which votes on independence just a few days after this album is released). Tenor saxophonist Bobby Wellins wrote his Culloden Moor Suite in 1961, inspired by John Prebble's book, Culloden, released in the same year. The composition gets a new lease of life with this big band recording, from May 2013, which brings Wellins together with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. The SNJO has carved out a reputation as a top quality big band, with albums such as American Adventure (Spartacus ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Andy Milne & Dapp Theory: Forward In All Directions

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On Forward in All Directions, pianist and bandleader Andy Milne brings various musical elements to play, including electronics and spoken word alongside some masterful playing and chemistry from his bandmates. The album kicks off with “Hopscotch," an up-tempo number centered on Aaron Kruziki's saxophone with a smart backbeat from the rhythm section. “Photograph" introduces electronics in the background. The groove breaks for some spoken word from John Moon about looking at old pictures, and then the dynamic lowers for great piano and saxophone improvised moments. “Into The Mirror, Darkly" is an eerie-sounding tune that begins with a few ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brian Groder Trio: Reflexology

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The cover of trumpeter Brian Groder new trio tells much about his aesthetics. He is well-versed with the compositional ideas of the great American jazz masters and their improvisation strategies--Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, including trumpeters as Woody Shaw and Freddie Hubbard. But in the same manner that these innovative and creative muscians marked their sonic footprint in the rich legacy of the genre, Groder not only reflects on past achievments but wants to take this genre a step forward. Groder enjoys the company of experienced and highly versatile improvisers--double bassist Michael Bisio, who lives ...

TAKE FIVE WITH...

Take Five With Ray Clemens

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Meet Ray Clemens: Born in Oklahoma. High school at the Idyllwild Arts Academy in Idyllwild, CA. College and briefly at the New School for Social Research in NYC. Been playing for what seems ages....and yet I can't come up with suitable material for the bio. Instrument(s): Bass -upright & electric, piano Teachers and/or influences? I've had the pleasure of studying with some amazing musical minds. It all started at the Idyllwild Arts Academy with Marshal Hawkins, an amazing self-taught jazz bassist who had his start on the road with Miles Davis. Next up, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kelley Suttenfield: Among The Stars

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Voice and nylon-string guitar. That's it. Nothing else to hear on this one, but nothing else is really needed. Vocalist Kelley Suttenfield's first album--Where Is Love (Rhombus Records, 2009)--was a well-crafted, full band affair that reimagined the works of everybody from Wes Montgomery ("West Coast Blues") to Caetano Veloso ("Coraçao Vagabundo") to The Platters ("Twilight Time"). On her sophomore date, she strips away the band, leaving only guitarist Tony Romano in the picture to help her explore music of the night and songs of love. Among The Stars offers quiet and absorbing takes on ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Renaud Garcia-Fons: Beyond The Double Bass

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The double bass. Everyone knows the double bass--it goes “boom, boom, boom." Sometimes, to paraphrase Sophia Loren, it goes “boom, boody, boom." In the hands of a virtuoso it does so much more than that: it has passion, dynamism, emotion and the power to move the soul. Renaud Garcia-Fons is such a virtuoso and Beyond The Double Bass--a compilation drawn from ten previous albums, with an accompanying DVD documentary--is absolutely superb. Garcia-Fons--who favors a five-string double bass on all but one tune--was born in Catalonia and now lives on the outskirts of Paris. His musical influences are many: ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Chris Isaak at NYCB Theatre at Westbury

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Chris Isaak NYCB Theatre at Westbury Long Island, NY September 7, 2014 Chris Isaak likes to make a splash. The perpetually youthful musician burst onto the stage the way he burst onto the music scene 30 years ago, when he signed to Warner Brothers and subsequently released the CD Silvertone (Warner Brothers, 1985). The crowd at the NYCB Theatre in Westbury spanned multiple generations and was clearly there for a rock and roll show. Isaak delivered. In a resplendent, vibrant blue suit with embroidered silver patterns, white button down and a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Christian Pabst Trio + 7: Song of Opposites

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German-born pianist Christian Pabst has been the leader of an award-winning trio since before the debut of their critically-acclaimed Days of Infinity (Challenge Records, 2010), however on Song of Opposites, the trio is augmented by seven additional instrumental voices adding a new chapter to this versatile artist's resume. Recorded in Amsterdam--where Pabst is currently based--the pianist presents an all-European cast of players offering an album of new modern classical jazz material that includes a three-piece string section on five tunes and also showcases the sounds of the sax, trumpet and trombone on a couple of tracks. Incorporating the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Colin Webster/Mark Holub: Viscera

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To be able to say you have heard something unique is rare these days. Of course, every musician's recordings are unique but occasionally there arrives an album which is truly 'stand alone' and Viscera (New Atlantic),the third album by saxophonist Colin Webster and drummer Mark Holub is one such album. The album consists of track after track of incisive, aggressive, full-on free jazz played at a rate and with such alacrity it defies any attempt at categorization. This is no background CD. But gutsy, gritting, gripping free jazz with a unique identity. Webster and Holub have played together before and ...

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Take Five With Mason Razavi

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Meet Mason Razavi: Starting out as a self-taught rock guitarist, Mason began studying jazz and playing in working rock bands as a teenager. After hearing an Andres Segovia recording for the first time at age 22, Mason changed directions dramatically and focused on the classical guitar for several years before returning to jazz and the electric guitar. Though first and foremost a jazz guitarist/composer, his diverse background has led him to play in settings ranging from rock bands to accompanying concert choirs, backing up jazz singers, and as a classical soloist. Mason has studied guitar and composition ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chris Walden Big Band: Full-On!

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It's been a while since the jazz world has seen a release from this group. The first three albums credited to the Chris Walden Big Band--the Grammy-nominated Home Of My Heart (Origin Records, 2005), No Bounds (Origin Records, 2006), and Kurt Marti Suite (Origin Records, 2007)--came in quick succession. And then there was silence from Walden. Well, that's not exactly true. Walden's actually been quite busy in the interim, even if his work didn't center on his own big band. He's been cranking out orchestrations and arrangements for mega-stars like Rod Stewart, Michael Bolton, Michael Bublé, and numerous others, so ...



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