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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Blue-Eyed Hawk: Under The Moon

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London-based quartet Blue-Eyed Hawk's debut recording has benefited from three years of gigging and the slow stewing of ideas. Collectively, singer Lauren Kinsella, trumpeter Laura Jurd, guitarist Alex Roth and drummer Corrie Dick sounds like the finished article, which whets the appetite for future chapters. With writing duties spread evenly, the quartet soars over wide stylistic terrain, from susurrus, folksy balladry and sophisticated pop to psychadelic rock and punkish struts. It all blends wonderfully, like a heady cross between Bjork, Patti Smith and Moetar. For label seekers, art-rock might satisfactorily describe Blue-Eyed Hawk's aesthetic, but boxes aside, ...

INTERVIEWS

Wil Blades: Groooooovin'

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"I love the blues," says Wil Blades, a Hammond B3 whiz who didn't come to the instrument until he left his hometown of jny: Chicago and was going to college in California. He doesn't remember specific instances of being struck by a blues thunderbolt, but “I remember hearing it. It's part of the feeling I get when I play music." He started on drums at a young age and turned to guitar as a teenager--"I had those rock star aspirations when I was in middle school," the easy going Blades quipped--but when he started fooling with the B3, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joan Chamorro and Andrea Motis: Feeling Good

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Feeling Good is well named: the feelgood vibe is strong and the love of music that reaches out from this album is pretty much guaranteed to leave listeners with a similarly good feeling. It's the second album from Joan Chamorro--bassist, saxophonist and director of Barcelona's Sant Andreu Jazz Band--and the band's star member, the teenage singer and instrumentalist Andrea Motis. Chamorro's name may come first, but it's Motis' personality that shines through most strongly on Feeling Good. Chamorro can take much of the credit for this--he's mentored Motis and other members of the Sant Andreu Jazz Band for ...

ONE LP

Kenny Burrell: Duke Ellington, The Great Paris Concert

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Kenny Burrell: University of California, Los Angeles, 7th May 2013 The record the maestro recorded in Paris in 1963; there are many great things on this recording. One that I particularly like--it's one of my favorite pieces in all of Ellingtonia and all music--is “Tone Parallel To Harlem," known as “Harlem Suite." This was commissioned in 1950 by Arturo Toscanini of The NBC Symphony Orchestra of New York. Duke Ellington at that point was pretty popular and also gaining recognition as a serious composer; at the time he was fifty one. That piece has ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Olson: Conversations

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For his first recording as a leader, drummer/percussionist Steve Olson asked six of his friends to engage in completely unrehearsed and improvised duo “conversations." Olson states in the notes that in his opinion, “the best music has an element of dialogue in it, both between the musicians, and between the players and the listener who is hearing and reacting emotionally." The result of these encounters are fifteen tracks which strongly support his stance from both viewpoints, although much concentration is required of the listener. The aural textures created are, not surprisingly, sparse, but within a large ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Elizabeth Shepherd: Signal

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Montreal-based singer Elizabeth Shepherd gently stirs jazz with an underground pop aesthetic in Signal. Similar to the fresh styles of contemporaries such as Esperanza Spalding and Gretchen Parlato, Shepherd's appeal is heard in her multifaceted gifts as a songwriter, musician, and composer; attributes which garnered her a Juno Award nomination for Best Vocal Jazz Album for her 2012 release Rewind (Linus Entertainment). Signal takes a soulful groove-centric stance with tight rhythmic hooks and beats that would fit comfortably in a club-like setting as some tracks segue into one another like a DJ set mix. The music is ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Kyle Shepherd: Where Dream States Meet Reality

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The Standard Bank Young Artist Awards program has been shining a light on some of the best and brightest South African up-and-comers in music, drama, dance, film, and other art forms since 1984. Almost from the start, and for the two decades that followed, music was simply represented with one umbrella category when these awards were given out, but jazz finally earned its own place at the table in 2006. Since that time, rising stars like drummer Kesivan Naidoo, pianist Bokani Dyer, and bassist Shane Cooper have all been rightly recognized with this honor. Pianist Kyle Shepherd joined ...

THE BIG QUESTION

Can jazz become culturally relevant again? If so, how?

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Welcome to the debut of a provocative new column called “The Big Question," a regular feature that is designed to get you engaged and talking about the important issues facing jazz today. And we begin with a topic that has weighed on my mind for as long as this website has been in existence: “Can jazz become culturally relevant again? If so, how?" Please voice your personal thoughts on the subject by posting your comments below. All opinions and prejudices are welcome. Also, please share the link (http://bit.ly/1q0rQ8C) on your social media pages to help drive traffic back ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Cellar and Point: The Cellar and Point: Ambit

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The unique atmosphere of The Cellar and Point's newest record Ambit (Cuneiform, 2014) is difficult to pin down in words, let alone to classify as a particular genre. Drummer Joe Branciforte and guitarist Chris Botta's brainchild, the result of years of absorbing influences as diverse as the Wu Tang Clan and Anton Webern, is an intriguing mix of contemporary straight-eighth, mixed-meter grooves and textural, atmospheric harmonies and accompaniment, with some electric guitar mixed in for good measure. Branciforte and Botta describe their one of a kind compositions and arrangements as “garage chamber music," which is about as perfect ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Jutta Hipp at the Hickory House, Vol. 2 – Blue Note 1516

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Raise your hand if you've never heard of Jutta Hipp. Yeah, me either. And yet, there she is, brooding and shadowy on the cover of her first Blue Note album. Yes, she--a female rarity in the almost-all-male world of 1950s Blue Note. And not American, either. Like Becks and Volkswagen, Jutta Hipp is a German import, but unlike Volkswagen, Hipp is not so very different from her male American counterparts. First, a word about finding Jutta Hipp CDs. The two CDs of Hipp live at the Hickory House, recorded in 1955, are available only as imports, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Emil Strandberg: More music for trumpet, guitar and bass

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Swedish trumpeter Emil Strandberg continues to explore the format of an intimate, acoustic trio. He began in 2012 with a self-titled trio of double bassist Pär-Ola Landin and drummer Sebastian Voegler (Self Produced, 2012) that covered standards, continued in 2013 with pianist Sten Sandell and double bassist Patric Thorman in It Is Night and I am Lost (found You Recordings, 2013), a set of free improvisations, and again in the same year with a Ola-Landin and guitarist David Stackenäs in Works (Found you Recordings, 2013), that featured his own compositions. Now he solidifies his interplay with the the same trio ...

INTERVIEWS

Avishai Cohen: From Darkness, a new trio studio album

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Avishai Cohen is prolific in music and words, a creative volcano who finds his raison d'être melting with the heart of his wooden instrument. Cohen, who arrived at the forefront of the jazz scene being part of the Chick Corea Sextet “Origin" (from 1996 to 2003), has developed a unique voice and personality as a bassist, but also as a composer and singer. Internationally renowned because of his Trio, accompanied by the pianist Shai Maestro and the drummer Mark Guiliana, it seems that he found in this number the perfect equilibrium to explore the vast world of the music roots ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Salif Keita at Yoshi's San Francisco

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Salif KeitaYoshi'sSan Francisco, CA September 7, 2014 Any opportunity to see Salif Keita, the 65-year-old “Golden Voice of Africa" is a special occasion indeed. Keita, a 40-year-plus veteran of the music scene, is one of Africa's top musical stars, one who travels all over the world. He sings in Malinké, a dialect of the Manding group of languages--prevalent but not predominant in many West African nations including Mali, Guinea, Senegal and the Ivory Coast but a language incomprehensible to most of his audience. Keita must hold his own through the command of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio: We're Back

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Drummer Gerry Gibbs must be in a “strike while the iron is hot" mode. Less than a year after his very successful Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio (Whaling City Sound, 2013), featuring Ron Carter on bass and Kenny Barron on piano, he has reconvened with those jazz legends for a second go around. This time, with We're Back, the trio moves away from the jazz standard format and goes after some of the classic R& B hits from the 60s and 70s. If that sounds like a good time, it is. Jazz can take itself too seriously, but ...



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