Earl Klugh Blue Note Jazz Club New York, NY August 14, 2014 On a pleasant, Thursday evening in mid-August, Grammy Award-winning guitarist Earl Klugh treated the packed and very enthusiastic audience at New York City's Blue Note Jazz Club to a spectacular night of silky smooth jazz. The slightly muggy venue was packed, but not overcrowded. The anticipation was high as Klugh and his quartet started his show (the first of two separately scheduled sets) promptly at 8pm. Klugh and his band immediately warmed up the crowd and created a perfect mood with ...read more
Myriad3--the Toronto-based trio of pianist Chris Donnelly, bassist Dan Fortin, and drummer Ernesto Cervini--may be the most noteworthy small group to emerge from Canada in years. Tell (Alma, 2013) introduced the band to the world, marking Myriad3 as an outfit with a post-modern outlook, respect for the traditions of this music, and the smarts not to let that respect get in the way of what it set out to do. Audacity, assurance, and the spirit of cooperation shine through on Myriad3's mind-blowing sophomore release. This band can do just about anything--and do it really well--but there's no ...read more
Ahmad Jamal's live performances have been well represented in his discography over the past sixty years. Yet despite touring the globe, all Jamal's live recordings--with the exception of the DVD concert from Lebanon, Live at Baalbeck (Birdology, 2003)--document North American and European gigs. France has always accorded the Pittsburgh pianist a royal welcome, naming him an Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2007;the regard is mutual, as Live at the Olympia is Jamal's fourth live recording in the French capital since 1992. Recorded in June 2012, this double CD set captures the entire concert, with iconic multi-instrumentalist ...read more
Trumpeters Bill Warfield and Randy Brecker have been friends for twenty years; it's high time they joined forces in a recording studio and began making beautiful music together. On Trumpet Story, Warfield's big-band homage to trumpeters and other musicians who have influenced him through the years, six-time Grammy Award winner Brecker solos on eight of ten numbers, several of which were written by Warfield with him in mind. The result is what Joe Listener might expect--uniformly high-caliber jazz tastefully articulated by Brecker's all-purpose trumpet / flugelhorn and suitably amplified by Warfield's A-list ensemble and perceptive charts. This ...read more
Discovering unheard John Coltrane material is the Holy Grail for serious music devotees, and the imminent release (Sept.23,2014) of a 1966 live date in the form of Offering: Live at Temple University on the Impulse! label (in conjunction with Resonance Records and Universal Music) to join The Olatunji Concert and One Down, One Up Live at the Half Note in the Coltrane archive is good news, indeed, for those wishing to explore the iconic saxophonist's later years. Adding significantly to the first-class feel of this production is the inclusion of a 23-page liner booklet written by the always perceptive Ashley ...read more
If you want to hear the best Annie Ross, listen to King Pleasure Sings / Annie Ross Sings (Fantasy, 1952). If you want to hear the most empathic and honest Annie Ross, listen to To Lady with Love. Ross is in her early to mid-80s and her voice is not what it was in the 50s and '60s, but her passion, grace and intelligence surpasses all previous recordings. This is a late autumn--early winter voice, to be sure. This recording belongs with Lady Day's Lady In Satin, (Columbia, 1958), Johnny Cash's American Recordings IV: The Man Comes Around (American Recordings, ...read more
To properly appreciate The Omar Hakim Experience one must look back to move forward. By the time Hakim slipped behind the drum kit of Weather Report in 1983, the band was staggering under the weight of personnel departures, management problems and family issues. Founding member Joe Zawinul went in search of new recruits and in walked Hakim with bassist Victor Bailey and percussionist Jose Rossy. Curt Bianchi's well-researched blog, The Weather Report Annotated Discography, is the go-to site for all things related to the band and on it Hakim explained what he brought to the group besides his ...read more
The jazz department of the NTNU university in Trondheim, Norway keeps presenting gifted and opinionated musicians that challenge conventional perspectives on genres and styles. The new power trio Caffeine Petrol--guitarist Gudmund Bolstad Skjær, who wrote all the trio pieces, bassist Fredrik Gundersen and drummer Martin Sandvik-- demonstrate how any neo-jazz-cons attempt to frame jazz aesthetics in clear, linear, historical or geographical musical boundaries is futile. These young musicians do not bother themselves with such intellectual abstractions. They focus on the music and its good vibrations. The trio describes its debut album Nosejob, released on the new ...read more
Collaboration is a jazz staple, just one of the many ways musicians seek to breathe a freshness into their performance or composition. Mostly, such collaborations take place between individuals. Healthy takes collaboration one stage further, joining together two Australian outfits--jazz piano trio Trichotomy and contemporary classical quintet Topology--on a collection of original compositions plus a take on Steve Reich's Clapping Music." Trichotomy--pianist Sean Foran, bassist Pat Marchisella and drummer John Parker--has released five impressive, critically-acclaimed, albums. On Start," from third album, Variations (Naim Label, 2010) the band was joined by Topology's saxophonist, John Babbage, violinist Christa Powell and ...read more
We recently caught up with saxophonist, composer/arranger and educator/clinician, Ron Aprea and spoke with him about recent activities and his current recording project--his personal John Lennon/Beatles tribute. All About Jazz: The last half of 2013 and the time so far in 2014 have been quite positive for you. Let me ask you first about Remembering Blakey. It received excellent reviews and media attention. Ron Aprea: We got off to a great start with that project. The reviews were all good and it was also up for Grammy nominations in three categories--Best Jazz Album, Best ...read more
Anyone who's had the pleasure of watching pianist Stefano Bollani in concert--whether it's in duo with fellow Italian, trumpter Enrico Rava, at the 2009 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival; in the trumpeter's New York Days quintet at the ECM 40th Anniversary celebration, part of the 2010 Enjoy Jazz Festival; or in one of his own various contexts (solo, trio, large ensemble)--knows that, above all, joy is fundamental to the music he makes. Sometimes it's blatantly obvious, as on his 2013 duo release with bandolim master Hamilton De Holanda, O Que Sera (ECM), where these two virtuosos could barely contain themselves and ...read more
Long associated, for better or worse, with the so-called jam band phenomenon of the mid-to-late 1990s, the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey continues to generate intelligent, daring, genre-defying music. JFJO's first live recording in a decade or so, Millions: Live In Denver, is part celebration of their 20th year of existence and part revelry in their new sound: a pared-down lineup of keys, drums and guitar. The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based brainchild of keyboardist and composer Brian Haas, JFJO has gone through a dizzying number of personnel changes and instrumental configurations over the years. Starting out in 1994 as a funky octet with ...read more
To say that someone is a virtuoso on their instrument isn't a statement just about playing ability. Virtuosity implies a deep level of understanding and insight into the way an instrument works, its history, and its sonic capabilities. This knowledge extends to an understanding of the physics of sound production: the minute details of how the sound is generated, how it is altered tonally, timbrally, and otherwise, where the overtones lie and how they can be manipulated, how environmental factors figure into one's sound. Though technical ability comes from within, the total command of one's voice is shaped by the ...read more
Multi-instrumentalist, composer and ethnomusicologist Hafez Modirzadeh's In Convergence Liberation on the intrepid Pi Recordings label is an ambitious work, and one at which he admirably succeeds. The album is a single, unified entity made up of five distinct but interlaced suites that explore a primal spirituality and express it in timeless poetry. Deftly merging Iberian song, eastern (primarily Persian) and western classical heritages and a hefty dose of improvisation Modirzadeh creates a contemplative transcultural musical epic. As he delves into universal themes he pays homage to lesser-known, fascinating women and through them to the concept of the feminine ...read more
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