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John Sharpe's Best Releases of 2014

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Here are eleven new releases, reviewed at All About Jazz, which stood out from those I heard this year, in no special order. Nicole Mitchell The Secret Escapades of Velvet Anderson (Rogue Art Records) Sonic Projections must be flautist Nicole Mitchell's hardest blowing band. On their second outing she draws inspiration from another hard blowing source in Chicago legend Fred Anderson. who ran the storied Velvet Lounge tavern. That required negotiation, organization, graft and resourcefulness in the face of gangsters and obdurate City officials. All that is grist to Mitchell's mill as she ...


Jack Mouse & Scott Robinson: Snakeheads & Ladybugs

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This may be a brand new release for 2015, but it's been thirty years in the making. Drummer Jack Mouse and man-of-many-horns Scott Robinson have been contemplating putting together an album of freely-improvised duets since the '80s, and now they've finally found the time and place to make it happen. Snakeheads & Ladybugs presents a dozen aural concoctions that mark these men as players with big ears and strong communicative skills. Mouse and Robinson relish the opportunity to let go and explore the musical outer reaches together, but this isn't your typical Sturm und Drang saxophone-and-drums date. ...


Joe Cocker 1944 – 2014

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For all of the boasting that the United States can do being the birthplace of every major popular music genre since 1920, the United States cannot claim the credit for the widespread popularization of this music. That honor goes to Europe, and more specifically, the United Kingdom, who more than any other country, forced the United States to full appreciate her musical fruits. It was the institutional racism endemic in the United States that prevented artists like Ray Charles, Solomon Burke, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson from having their justifiable place in American History early on. It took ...


Tobias Grim: Brazil Lines

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Young Swedish-born guitarist Tobias Grim announces his debut album with Brazil Lines, a light Brazilian-styled vocal project featuring singer Karolina Vucidolac, one of Sweden's finest interpreters of the genre. Originally from Linkoping, Sweden, Grim began his musical career performing Rock and Funk music, moved to London for a while, encountered the blues and was introduced to the jazz idiom through jazz fusion. Along with bassist Magnus Bergstrom and drummer Anders Kjellberg--who form the Grim trio--the band and vocalist Vucidolac, have been performing together since 2010 and this endeavor, is their first recording collaboration. The album contains all original ...


Dave Liebman: Ceremony

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This exciting new album returns to the haunting evocative beauty of the origins of jazz rhythms but has a contemporary feeling infused into it by very sophisticated players of contemporary jazz and Latin music who give the album a special shine. While jazz matured within an eclectic mix of American music ranging from marching bands to gospel to ragtime, vaudeville, and musical theater, it is firmly rooted in its rhythmic intensity in the rituals and ceremonies of Africa and the Caribbean. This album returns to those roots. Ceremonies consists of an unusual grouping of just one horn player, ...


Whiplash, Snidely

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Jazz lovers, while always attuned to the possibility of their cherished art form entering the media mainstream, are also equally filled with dread when it occasionally does happen. Inevitably we end up consoling ourselves with a revived career (Dexter Gordon--Bird) or an outstanding performance (James Carter, et al.--Kansas City) in lieu of an actual believable plot or an authentic resemblance to any known jazz milieu. In Whiplash, we have both deficiencies illustrated. Seriously, are there any real life sons-a-bitches known to rival Terrence Fletcher, (J.K. Simmons) as the terror-inducing, sadistically manipulative mentor to earnest young musicians in his ...


Eberhard Weber: :rarum Selected Recordings

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Eberhard Weber :rarum Selected Recordings ECM Records 2004 Some days you want to hear a bit of everything, so today's Rediscovery? Eberhard Weber's :rarum Selected Recordings, a compilation of some of his work as a leader and a guest for the venerable ECM label, ranging from his own Colours group to collaborations with Pat Metheny, Gary Burton, Ralph Towner, Norma Winstone and Jan Garbarek. That he can no longer play bass, the result of a 2007 stroke, is a painful thing for his fans, assuaged only by the rich legacy he has already ...

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