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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Avishai Cohen - Trumpet: Dark Nights

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From the brooding opening title track to the closing Chet Baker homage, “I Fall in Love Too Easily," Dark Nights unapologetically embraces the heart of jazz. Every aspect of the album--from the cover photo, to Cohen's precise trumpet inflections, to the trio's dedication to immediacy and collective improvisation (and even the album's forays into electronic affects)--is saturated with the emblematic textures, rhythms, and imagery of jazz. This is achieved with professionalism, creativity, and skill, without a wit of irony or cliché, while avoiding both navel-gazing insularity and crowd-pleasing revivalism. Instead, the album's ten tracks wander the shadowed corridors ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sketches: Volume 2

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Same musicians, same winning concept, great new songs: that's what awaits on the second volume of music from the quintet collective known as Sketches. This Brooklyn-based outfit works a unique angle with its own brand of cross-pollinated composition, whereby one musician brings in a tidbit of music that serves as the seed for a piece from the pen of another band member. It's a form of collaborative writing that allows both parties to work alone together. To some, the band and its concept may smack of gimmickry, but those thoughts belong with the pure ...

INTERVIEWS

Kris Bowers: A Deeper Look into Heroes + Misfits

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Kris Bowers is a pristine example of what the term prodigy embodies. In 2011, at the tender age of 22, he became the winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition. Bowers also received an astute musical education at the prestigious Julliard School of Music in New York--receiving a Bachelor's degree and Master's degree in Film Scoring and Jazz Performance before reaching the age of 25. Yet Bowers' style is not limited to traditional jazz. It is also shaped by the diverse musical genres he listened to on the radio as a kid, which makes his sound intriguing. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Paragon: Cerca

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It's been a decade since Anglo-German quartet Paragon formed. Cerca, recorded on an unspecified two days in Cologne, is the band's third release. The sax and Rhodes frontline, backed up by Matthias Nowak's bass and Jon Scott's drums, creates an elegant repertoire of tunes that draws on influences as diverse as '60s spiritual jazz and hip-hop grooves. Although the band's been around for ten years, Paragon's members can still be classed as part of the younger generation of contemporary jazzers. Their wide-ranging roll-call of collaborators and employers includes established players like Mike Walker and Nils Wogram, contemporaries such ...

WHAT IS JAZZ?

A Look Back At Robert Glasper's Enoch's "Inaugural" Meditation

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One of the most powerful jazz documentation of a Presidential Inauguration was a YouTube presentation of Robert Glasper's “Enoch's Meditation," a piece from his 2005 album entitled Canvas. Glasper, a Blue Note artist and Grammy Award winning jazz piano star, has received critical acclaim for his trio style that weaves together a tapestry of diverse musical genres from rock, hip hop, gospel to even country, staying within the jazz aesthetic in a way that is mind-blowing. Through the ingenuity of Josh Jackson, special presentation director at WBGO 88.3 FM, “Enoch's Meditation" received a presidential “rendering" where the piece ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Anthony Natural Instincts Trio: Nostalgia

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Guitarist Michael Anthony, whose warm salute to mentor and friend Howard Roberts, Recollections, was reviewed here in June, recorded another tribute album seven years earlier (2007), this one dedicated to another longtime friend and colleague, the late Al Viola, who passed away in February of that year. Anthony says he was fortunate to have met Roberts and Viola during his formative years on the West Coast, forming friendships that helped point him toward a long and successful career as a jazz guitarist and Hollywood studio musician. As was the case on Recollections, Anthony's choice of material and ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Vinnie Sperrazza: Apocryphal

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An understated but highly-skilled and insanely versatile drummer in the vein of Kenny Wolleson, Jeff Hirshfield, and Paul Motian, Vinnie Sperrazza has been turning up on all sorts of interesting recordings over the past half-decade or so. Co-leader of 40Twenty with Jacob Sacks, Jacob Garchik, and Dave Ambrosio, Sperrazza is also in a trio with Sacks and bassist Masa Kamaguchi, and is one fourth of Hush Point; a brainy collaboration with veteran trumpeter John McNeil and alto saxophonist Jeremy Udden. He's also collaborated with Jon Irabagon, Ellery Eskelin, Ralph Alessi, and a host of other forward-thinking New York musicians. Apocryphal ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jax Jazz Collective: Lotus Blossom: The Music of Billy Strayhorn

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Duke Ellington (1899-1974)--Americas's finest bandleader, America's finest composer--released his own tribute to Billy Strayhorn, his partner in music and tune smithing. It was called ...And His Mother Called Him Bill (RCA, 1967). Ellington and Strayhorn's music was so intertwined that the Duke's less that fanatic fans might think that “Lush Life," “Take the A Train" and “Lotus Blossom" are Ellington tunes. But those classics, and many more, came from the prolific and always elegant pen of Strayhorn. Now the Jax Jazz Collective, under the leadership of pianist Joshua Bowlus, offers up Strayhorn in a small group outing with ...

October 2014

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Dear Mr. P.C.: I was playing piano in a building lobby where I perform regularly. A woman walked past the piano and discreetly left something at the far end (it's a grand piano). When I finished the song, I walked around the piano to see what she'd left. Turned out it was her trash! I'm a little old and out of touch so I'm wondering: Is that okay nowadays? --Don't Understand Selfish Treatment By Inconsiderate Nutjob Dear DUSTBIN: When you call it “trash," I wonder if you're being too ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Frank Kimbrough: Quartet

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The majority of pianist Frank Kimbrough's albums have focused on the piano trio format, but he's certainly willing to try other things; he made that clear by recording in a duo with vibraphonist Joe Locke on more than one occasion, putting together a bass-less quartet for Noumena (Soul Note, 2000), and going it alone on Air (Palmetto, 2007). Now, with the plainly-titled Quartet, Kimbrough does it again. This time he's at the helm of a foursome that includes a pair of his colleagues from the Maria Schneider Orchestra--bassist Jay Anderson and saxophonist Steve Wilson--and drummer Lewis Nash, who Kimbrough first ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Charles Lloyd: Manhattan Stories

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Manhattan Stories is a trip back in time, a journey to a long gone and long-missed era. It's a window into the great Charles Lloyd's art at a period of transition. The shows presented on this beautifully packaged two-disc set--one recorded at the infamous Slugs' Saloon in the summer of 1965, the other recorded at Judson Hall in September of the same year--took place shortly after Lloyd left the employ of Cannonball Adderley and before he became a cross-over sensation and hero to hippies, moving a million units of Forest Flower: Charles Lloyd At Monterey (Atlantic, 1966). ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Heckman Quintet: Search for Peace

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Steve Heckman says he was inspired to play the tenor saxophone after hearing John Coltrane, especially Coltrane's A Love Supreme. Luckily, Heckman did not follow his mentor completely off the deep end but remained instead true to his bop-bred roots while developing a singular voice of his own on the tenor. On Search for Peace (a title Coltrane would no doubt have endorsed), San Francisco-based Heckman's fourth album as leader, Trane's impact is never far away but has been tempered by Heckman's experience and exposure to a number of other exemplars including (but not limited to) Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Horace Tapscott: The Tapscott Sessions, Volumes 1-8

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Horace Tapscott began his musical career as a trombonist, and during the early part of the 1950s played in the Gerald Wilson big band. It wasn't until his US Army tour of duty in the late 1950s that he studied piano. He subsequently gave up the trombone due to an automobile accident while on tour with Lionel Hampton and settled in 1961 in Los Angeles to concentrate on piano. Tapscott came to an obscure form of prominence in that period as a rebellious pianist during a time when New York was quickly becoming recognized as the center of the avant-garde ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Louis Sclavis Quartet: Silk and Salt Melodies

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After reinventing himself with a completely revamped ensemble on Sources (ECM, 2012), reed multi-instrumentalist Louis Sclavis expands the purviews and possibilities of his Atlas Trio by adding percussionist Keyvan Chemirani to the mix for Silk and Salt Melodies. Sclavis has, in his 33-year career as a leader--and since coming to ECM Records in 1991 with the recording of Rouge (1992)--made a life's work of regular reinvention, both contextually in terms of lineup and stylistically through a broad cross-section of projects ranging from the fully unplugged, improv-heavy but still composition-based Acoustic Quartet (1994) and image-inspired blend of form and freedom on ...



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