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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 ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Live From Birmingham: The Pedigree Jazz Band, Tony Bennett, The Fat Chops Big Band

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The Pedigree Jazz Band Solihull British Legion September 7, 2014 It's a curious sensation when tributes are paid to revivals of revivals. Down the decades since the original jazz repertoire was established in the 1920s, '30s, and even earlier, there have been a multitude of responses, counter-responses, exhumations and celebrations. The Pedigree Jazz Band is currently presenting A Tribute to Trad Jazz, a show that's culled from their two albums of the same name. They gaze back fondly to the British traditional jazz revival of the 1950s, with hoary old New Orleans and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Adam Meckler Orchestra: When The Clouds Look Like This

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The image that adorns the cover of When The Clouds Look Like This--three weathered valves rising from the mist, a finger button inexplicably missing from the middle valve--is something of a mystery. Is it a riddle? A metaphor of some sort? Or is it simply an image that appealed to these musicians? Only those involved with the project can answer those questions, but the cover is certainly thought provoking, just like the music that sits beneath it. Adam Meckler--a composer-educator-trumpeter who's toured with Todd Clouser's A Love Electric, Youngblood Brass Band, and numerous other groups--brought together a ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Marcin Wasilewski Trio w/ Joakim Milder: Spark of Life

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What do you do when you've released three albums as a trio (more, if you include albums released in Poland, prior to coming to the label) for a producer who traditionally seems to like shaking things up after that magic number? For Polish pianist Marcin Wasilewski and his longstanding trio--first coming together in their teens, they've been together more than two decades, and first recorded for ECM with trumpeter Tomasz Stanko for a triptych of evolutionary albums that began with 2002's Soul of Things and concluded with the far maturer Lontano (2006)--there have been two moves in 2014: first, show ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Philip Corner: Satie Slowly

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Pianist Philip Corner slows down Erik Satie and shows where Philip Glass, Terry Riley and Steve Reich came from. Satie Slowly is exactly that: the piano music of Satie vastly slowed down compared to most contemporary performances and recordings. The lengthy subtitle to the release says it all: “Avoid All Sacrilegious Exaltation." The large insert, assembled from Corner's papers over the last 40 years, note: If his piano pieces are so easy why are they so badly played? What they have this must not be violated is an objectivity allthemore solid for being so fragile...they resist all ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Ray Charles: Genius Love Company – 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

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"The way these days just rip along, too fast to last, too vast, too strong..." --Jackson Browne The final recording of Ray Charles, Genius Loves Company, enjoys its tenth anniversary. It is striking to consider that it has been over ten years since the death of Ray Charles, one of the most imposing figures in American music. The music made in the second half of the twentieth century has had a remarkable staying power owing partially to its revolutionary quality and the near frantic dedication of the Post-World War II Baby Boom generation. Charles' contributions to this ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tyshawn Sorey: Alloy

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From an early age composer/drummer/educator Tyshawn Sorey has found creative outlets in not just music but in painting and literature as well. Never one to compartmentalize his own imagination, he has enthusiastically explored blues, gospel, classical and music for dance so it seems quite natural that his current music defies categories. Whether listening or writing, he takes a non-judgmental approach to the way he engages with music, preferring possibilities over prescription. Sorey has recorded or performed with a veritable who's-who of modern music including trumpeters Wadada Leo Smith and Dave Douglas, saxophonists Anthony Braxton, John Zorn and Tim Berne, and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tommy Igoe: The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy

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Jazz audiences in the Bay Area are starting to realize what their New York counterparts have known for years--namely, that drummer Tommy Igoe puts together a hell of a band and puts on a hell of a show. Igoe, the man who gave rhythmic life to Broadway's The Lion King and changed the face of drum set pedagogy with his Groove Essentials books, has been tearing it up on Friday nights with The Birdland Big Band since 2006; now he's out to conquer the other coast. Igoe still drops in at Birdland when he can, living something ...

WHAT IS JAZZ?

How Teachers can Swing in the Classroom

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I am a jazz aficionado as well as a philosophy professor. Being in front of a classroom teaching is my favorite place on earth, second to a good jazz club with hip friends. In the midst of a philosophy class, I may wax enthusiastic about the transcendent qualities of a John Coltrane saxophone solo or the preternatural swing of Buddy Rich's timekeeping or the song-writing and band-leading genius of Duke Ellington. These comments are not merely idiosyncratic. They reflect something of a philosophical theory of pedagogy that is steeped in jazz sensibilities. After over thirty years of teaching philosophy in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Roseanna Vitro: Clarity: Music of Clare Fischer

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Roseanna Vitro is a “singer's singer." What does that mean? It means she is so excellent and still warranting much more attention. Her deep and precise alto is perfectly tuned and balanced. Her phrasing is textbook. This is what a jazz singer sounds like. But Vitro's skill set does not stop at vocal prowess. She is also a crack arranger, programmer and music journalist. That is a wealth of grace and talent from Hot Springs, Arkansas. Vitro's projects are also well-considered and assembled. Throughout her career, she has been intelligently judicious in selecting artist and artistic themes ...

SHRINKTUNES

Playing it Forward: The Boys at the Blue Note

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It seemed to happen overnight. One minute it was all video games, with the boys totally immersed in furious thumbwork. They'd sit together for hours on end, staring at a busy screen, manipulating cartoon adversaries to kill each other in great bursts of color and noise. There was considerable musical talent among them, and assorted lessons here and there, but no burning interest that any adult could detect. Then suddenly the group shifted, like a flock of birds responding to a secret signal and abruptly tearing off in a whole new direction. Their new direction was guitar, and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Pete Roth Band: Circus In The Sky

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It's virtually impossible for any contemporary musician to have emerged in isolation--to have developed a style or technique unaffected by those who have gone before. Guitarist Pete Roth is no exception--the press release name checks John McLaughlin, Jonathan Kreisberg and John Scofield as contributing to the German-born, London-based player's approach to his chosen instrument. On Circus In The Sky, Roth's second album, he makes use of these influences--and more--to craft some skilfully written and played tunes. Roth's writing encompasses a range of styles. “Little Mr X"--dedicated to Roth's young son--and the swinging “Smile" are bright and joyful. Roth's ...

TAKE FIVE WITH...

Take Five With Marcin Olak

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Meet Marcin Olak: Marcin Olak is one of the most interesting Polish jazz guitar players. He is one of the few who play modern jazz on classical and acoustic guitars, using the specific sound and articulative possibilities of those instruments; sometimes he also plays electric guitar. He moves between various styles: jazz, classical and contemporary, from fully composed pieces to improvised music. Marcin Olak performs solo and with various bands ranging from free-jazz combos, through classical guitar ensembles, to a symphony orchestra. Marcin is also appreciated as an arranger and composer: he writes chamber music and concertos, jazz themes ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eric-Maria Couturier / Henri Roger / Emmanuelle Somer /Bruno Tocanne: Parce Que!

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The cover of French pianist Henri Roger's latest album, Parce Que! , delivers no information about its title, musicians, the recording etc. Just a plain dark painting and a barcode on the back cover. The mysterious cover, designed by Anne Pesce, is the inspiration for a set of collective improvisations by Roger, together with cellist Eric-Maria Couturier, woodwinds and reed player Emmanuelle Somer and drummer Bruno Tocanne, all participants in previous Roger projects. The improvisations, as can be found in Roger website, are inspired by the Outrenoir series of about 30 paintings by one of France ...



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