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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rob Derke & the NYJAZZ Quartet: Blue Divide

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The name “NYJAZZ Quartet" does beg the question, “What is New York Jazz?" Even narrowing the definition to “home grown" music doesn't help, since that range runs from the mainstream sounds of Birdland and the Blue Note to the next-level avant-garde associated with Smalls and the late lamented Knitting Factory. With Blue Divide, saxman Rob Derke and his three extraordinary partners --pianist Aruan Ortiz, bassist Carlo De Rosa, and drummer Eric McPherson--have managed to mash those two contrary sub-genres into a galvanizing set that bends the outside of the box without breaking it. In more ways than ...

BEST OF / YEAR END

J Hunter's 2013 Top 10 Countdown

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"Tis the season to do countdowns Fa la la la lahhh, la lahh lahh lahhhhhhh..." Okay, okay, not one of the most original openings ever written. But don't worry: There's plenty of originality to be had on the ten bundles of fabulousness listed below: 10... Etienne Charles Creole Soul (Culture Shock Music) Still in his 20's, Charles has been racking up Mozart-like career accomplishments since he left Juilliard, and his latest release kicks open a whole new door. Armed with the Afro-Caribbean beats of his native Trinidad, Charles serves up a tantalizing mix of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Prism: Prism

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Although über-bassist Dave Holland made his bones with one of Miles Davis' early electric bands, the lion's share of the British native's own music has come from the acoustic side of the scale. As such, longtime Holland fans will receive a major shock with their first listen to Prism. Those fans will need open ears and patience; everyone else just needs a volume control that goes to 11. The opening Fender Rhodes vamp on Kevin Eubanks' “The Watcher" comes straight out of jam-band fave Chris Potter's Underground--not surprising, given that it's CPU keyboardist Craig Taborn making the noise. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Christian McBride & Inside Straight: People Music

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Musicians create bands for many things: To gather like-minded artists together, or to achieve some grand artistic vision; Christian McBride created Inside Straight to get a gig. It seems Village Vanguard owner Lorraine Gordon loved McBride but wouldn't book him with his regular, fusion-heavy outfit--or, as Gordon put it, “that rock 'n' roll band." Necessity is the mother, as they say, so McBride built Inside Straight. The thing is, he might have overreacted a tad, because the group's first release Kind of Brown was pure vanilla from end to end. Thankfully, McBride found the right mix of spices in time ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

It's an Upstate Thing: John Medeski and Lee Shaw; Joe Barna and Sketches Of Influence

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It's time once again to prove that all the great jazz in New York State isn't all made in New York City. The state capital of Albany has been doing its part for quite some time, and it doesn't stop with its two favorite musical sons: mallets wizard Stefon Harris and baritone saxman Nick Brignola. Here are the latest offerings from the Capital Region, both of them recorded live--one from an inspiring octogenarian pianist and the pupil who made it big, and another from a young lion who is more than ready to show the world what he's got.

BEST OF / YEAR END

J Hunter's Best Releases of 2010

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Counting down the best releases of 2010: Allison Miller Boom Tic Boom Foxhaven 2010 Anyone with job references as diverse as organ icon Dr. Lonnie Smith and indie singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco must have something interesting to say, and drummer Allison Miller proves that out. Boom Tic Boom is a square-peggish gumbo that flirts with the chaotic but never loses its way. Avant-garde pianist Myra Melford adds thrilling depth and boundless thought, and Jenny Scheinman's quicksilver violin makes a delightful cameo on one of the best small-label ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Michael Dease, Mike Fahie: Attack of the Killer Trombones!

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The trombone: long locked into a stereotypical role formed by Dixieland, and only occasionally broken since. Fortunately, the last few years have seen more and more trombonists following J.J. Johnson's lead and bringing the instrument out front. Four discs with trombones at their center have stood out so far in 2010; two are reviewed here, two more will follow in a sequel. Michael DeaseGraceJazz Legacy Productions2010 Michael Dease was pretty prominent on multi-instrumentalist Sharel Cassity's disc Relentless (Jazz Legacy Productions, 2009). JLP impresario John Lee has been a fan ...



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