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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mark Elf: Mark Elf Returns 2014

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Nothing can stop guitarist Mark Elf from making music. He's battled serious health problems, contended with the ups and downs of the music industry for decades, and, most recently, dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the massive storm that flooded his home, delaying the recording of this record for a year. In spite of all of those setbacks and hardships, Elf still manages to have a fairly sunny musical outlook when he straps on the guitar for this, his first album in eight years. Mark Elf Returns 2014 finds the guitarist swinging alongside an A-list rhythm ...

INTERVIEWS

Erland Dahlen: Rolling Bombers and Blossom Bells

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The drummer, percussionist and composer Erland Dahlen is one of the most proficient musicians of the Nordic jazz community. His collaborations with top ranking musicians, such as Nils Petter Molvaer, Stian Westerhus, Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang, as well as his solo projects, have an unmistakable rhythmic signature owing to his singular instrumental voice. The natural roundness and the musicality of his drums as well as the spatiality of the cymbals and bells create an inspiring rhythmical halo. Dahlen's solo album Rolling Bomber (Hubro Records, 2012) combines the drum work with the electronic sequencing in a multi-layered rhythmical ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jack Cooper: Mists: Charles Ives for Jazz Orchestra

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Charles Edward Ives (1874-1954), one of the first American composers of classical music to earn an international reputation, derived his inspiration from themes he had heard while growing up in Connecticut: hymns, traditional folk songs, marching bands (his father led one), patriotic songs, parlor ballads, Saturday night dances, and especially the melodies of the great Stephen Foster. Jazz composer / arranger / orchestrator / educator / saxophonist Jack Cooper, who was introduced to Ives' music by his mother, Georgie Cooper, in the late 1960s and has remained one of its champions ever since, has undertaken the daunting task of reimagining ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Herbie Nichols Trio – Blue Note 1519

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OK, now I'm cheating. At least it feels that way. The next CD on my quixotic Blue Note odyssey is Herbie Nichols Trio, a 1955-56 trio record by the criminally under-appreciated pianist. Great--I'm looking forward to it! I know almost nothing about Herbie Nichols, except that he was an overlooked talent who was often compared to the quirky Thelonious Monk. How can that be bad? Except... you can't really buy this CD. Not easily. And not cheaply. Go to Amazon and look it up. The first thing you see is that the album is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chris Weller's Hanging Hearts: Chris Weller's Hanging Hearts

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The eponymously titled debut album by this trio of Berklee College of Music alumni is led by tenor saxophonist Chris Weller and was recorded between December 2013 and January 2014. The lack of bass in this band doesn't inhibit its ability to engage with rock infused dynamics. Comparisons with other groups are not easy since this one is unique, maybe Sex Mob, possibly Acoustic Ladyland but these guys carve out their own territory.The angular keyboard style of Cole Degenova becomes immediately apparent from track one “D Rover" but then the rhythmic emphasis starts to break down halfway through, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ginger Berglund & Scott Whitfield: Solitary Moon

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The unabridged subtitle of this endlessly charming album is “Ginger Berglund & Scott Whitfield Sing the Johnny Mandel Songbook." For those who were unaware that there is a Johnny Mandel Songbook apart from “Emily," “The Shadow of Your Smile" and “Close Enough for Love," this scintillating summary is a guaranteed eye-(and ear-) opener, lovingly packaged and earnestly delivered by Berglund and her multi-talented husband, trombonist / arranger / singer Whitfield. That “memorable trio" of songs are here, as indeed they should be; but Mandel, who began his career as a trumpeter, has been writing beautiful music for ...

INTERVIEWS

Jon Armstrong: Limitless Enthusiasm

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Of those jazz men who are still left (of course today is a new day and jazz is dying again), the Jon Armstrong Jazz Orchestra's debut album Farewell, is something new to say hello to. The end is the beginning you know. Jon Armstrong has a (so-far) limitless enthusiasm for being in the thick of music, he is both mature experience and child psyche, surrounded by the vibrant jny: Los Angeles music scene, gifted with Daniel Rosenboom as his inspirational label manager and band mate, and playing for long enough that his chops are tighter than a banker's liability insurance. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Theron Shaw: Gumbo Caribe

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Theron Shaw is well known in local music circles as the go-to man for guitar support ranging from jazz to calypso. His two previous releases signalled a willingness to engage with native cultural mores and tackle Caribbean Jazz not only as a way to “tropicalise" harmonically complex original music, but as a way to validate and valorise calypsoes, ethnic music and folk songs in a surprisingly new context. With his third release on CD, Gumbo Caribe, Shaw almost exclusively utilises the talents of a cadre of Boston-based Berklee College of Music faculty and alumni to expand the thematic influences beyond ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chris Weller's Hanging Hearts: Chris Weller's Hanging Hearts

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Composer and saxophonist Chris Weller was born and raised in Oak Park, IL. Weller sites his passion for music happened in eighth grade after hearing Charlie Parker. Weller attend Berklee College of Music on a scholarship from 2007-2010, where he received his bachelor's degree in Music Performance. While at Berklee, Weller studied with: George Garzone, Dave Santoro, drum master Rakalam Bob Moses, Ed Tomassi, Jim Odgren, Shannon LeClaire,Greg Hopkins, Benny Golson and Mark Turner. Weller perfected his studies while performing extensively in various bands and ensembles that focused on styles of Jazz, Latin, and Hip Hop. After college, Weller returned ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Sticks: The Sticks

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The Sticks is a new, young Norwegian trio, another product of the acclaimed jazz conservatory in Trondheim--pianist Oscar Grönberg, (who was born in Sweden and plays in saxophonist Hanna Paulsberg quartet), double bassist Aksel Jensen and drummer Håkon Mjåset Johansen (who plays in violinist Ola Kvernberg trio and in the modern jazz quintet Motif). The trio's name has two meanings for Norwegians and both may describe the spirit of its music: wasteland or middle-of-nowhere, but locals use it to describe “a condition where one becomes so hot and muggy that underwear becomes glued to the thighs." ...

ARTIST PROFILES

Drago Gajo: Jazz Internationalist

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It's said that music is the universal language. And even though it's considered an American creation, jazz music in particular is performed and enjoyed all over the world--including in the central European nation of Slovenia. For anyone who might be unfamiliar with Slovenia, it's one of the countries formed after the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia. Located at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea, Slovenia is bordered on the west by Italy, on the north by Austria, on the east by Hungary, and on the south by Croatia. In the center of the country lies its capital: ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jack Cooper: Mists - Charles Ives for Jazz Orchestra

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American composer Charles Ives (1874-1954) was an arts iconoclast in the vein of his contemporary poet Wallace Stevens (1879-1955). Both men were successful business executives who profoundly changed American art as an avocation. Ive's music brimmed with an Americana that sounds slightly sepia-toned today, but that has not prevented it's subjugation as subject for jazz interpretation, another piece of Americana. Theo Bleckmann and Kneebody's Twelve Songs by Charles Ives (Winter & Winter, 2008) set the patrician insurance executive's sound on its ear. Now, noted composer and arranger Jack Cooper completes his near two decades old quest in ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

U2: Songs of Innocence

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These days there is no other band that can polarize both critics and audiences alike than Irish band U2. Most of the time that's because of non-musical reasons that have accumulated through the years and the internet never forgets. The band always seems to cause heated debates that swell into fever pitch. Having reinvented themselves several times during their career the most constant thing about it is the constant change. And with each new record U2 seems to be taking bold new steps ahead as it was the unprecedented announcement to release its new record Songs of Innocence for free ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Horvitz: 55: Music and Dance In Concrete

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Reviewed on LP, the only other option for this release is a digital download, but with the latter you won't get the sharp colorful booklet that includes photos of the corresponding dance moves, choreographed by Yukio Suzuki and Wayne Horvitz' detailed album notes. The album was recorded at an old military base, Fort Worden that is situated in a state park outside of Seattle. In fact, the Fort serves as an additional instrument, especially heightened by the inherent analog vinyl pressing. The premise for this production emanates from Horvitz' numerous electronics works transposed to dance, video, and performed by the ...



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