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BOOK REVIEWS December 18, 2011

The Parisian Jazz Chronicles

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The Parisian Jazz Chronicles: An Improvisational MemoirBy Mike Zwerin Yale University PressISBN: 0300108060240 pages2005 The Parisian Jazz Chronicles is an irreverent and highly revealing tour through the Parisian and European jazz scenes of the '80-90s in the company of musician/writer/hipster expatriate Mike Zwerin, who played trombone on Miles Davis' landmark Birth of the Cool sessions as a teenager and later became a respected jazz critic for the International Herald Tribune. An “improvisational memoir" is an apt description for what's essentially a series of loosely connected ...

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LIVE REVIEWS May 25, 2011

Sonny Rollins, Live at NJPAC

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Sonny RollinsNew Jersey Performing Arts CenterNewark, NJMay 13, 2011 The expectations for a Sonny Rollins concert have always been extraordinarily high. One anticipates waves of awe-inspiring solos and jaw-dropping feats of musical dexterity from the saxophone colossus, and more often than not, he delivers. But in recent years, something else has begun to happen when Rollins performs. As he ambled onto the stage at NJPAC in Newark, a stooped 80-year-old man with a wild mane of white hair, wearing dark sunglasses and an un-tucked white shirt, Rollins instantly transformed into a heroic ...

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MULTIPLE REVIEWS June 12, 2010

Geri Allen: Solo and Quartet

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Geri Allen Flying Toward The Sound Motema Music2010 Geri Allen & TimelineLiveMotema Music2010 One of the most accomplished jazz pianists of her generation, Geri Allen has long made music that combines the traditional and the avant-garde, the cerebral and the soulful, the restrained and the raucous. Her impressive resume includes '80s collaborations with Steve Coleman and his M-Base crew, performances with free thinkers like Ornette Coleman, Betty Carter and Charles Lloyd and well-regarded trio ...

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MULTIPLE REVIEWS May 15, 2010

Hank Jones: With Oliver Jones & the Great Jazz Trio

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Oliver Jones and Hank JonesPleased to Meet YouJustin Time2010 The Great Jazz TrioMoreoverTest of Time2010 Hank Jones continues his remarkable late-in-life surge of activity with this new release documenting his first-ever recorded encounter with Canadian piano mainstay Oliver Jones. Hank Jones was 90 when Pleased to Meet You was recorded two years ago in Montreal while Oliver Jones was a relative pup at 74. That's a hell of a lot of years between them, ...

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MULTIPLE REVIEWS April 3, 2010

Posi-Tone Saxophones

Ralph BowenDue ReverencePosi-Tone2010 Mike DiRubboRepercussionPosi-Tone2009 Sean NowellThe SeekerPosi-Tone2009 Giving underappreciated jazz artists their due is one of the perks (and responsibilities) of writing about the music. The frustrating thing is the sheer number of outstanding musicians flying under the radar of most listeners. These three saxophonists, all New York-area players recording for the LA-based Posi-Tone label and all checking in at various places along the post-bop continuum, ...

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MULTIPLE REVIEWS February 6, 2010

Two Tributes to Bille Holiday: Dee Dee Bridgewater and Stepanie Nakasian

Dee Dee Bridgewater Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie with Love from Dee Dee Emarcy 2010 Stephanie Nakasian Billie Remembered: The Classic Songs of Billie Holiday Inner City 2010 Dee Dee Bridgewater, one of the premier singers of her generation, as well as an acclaimed actress and radio personality, has had an extremely close relationship with the music of Billie Holiday, having starred in an acclaimed one-woman show about her in Europe in the '80s. ...

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MULTIPLE REVIEWS January 16, 2010

Marc Copland: Solo and Duo

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Marc Copland Alone Pirouet 2009 Gary Peacock/Marc Copland Insight Pirouet 2009 There's a reason, perhaps, that Marc Copland doesn't get the acclaim he deserves as one of the masters of modern jazz piano. Copland's strengths are subtle ones that require careful listening. A deeply reflective artist, Copland doesn't play loud or fast or swing particularly hard. Instead, the 61-year-old lets a few well-chosen notes tell a story that a flurry of notes would only ...

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MULTIPLE REVIEWS August 2, 2009

Chico Hamilton: Now and Then

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Chico Hamilton Twelve Tones of Love Joyous Shout 2009 The Original Chico Hamilton Quintet Complete Studio Recordings Fresh Sound 2009 It would be a huge understatement simply to say that legendary drummer Chico Hamilton is still going strong as he approaches his 88th birthday next month. His latest CD, Twelve Tones of Love, is as jam-packed with creativity and musical ideas as any release you're likely to hear this year. Indeed, one criticism of ...

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RECORD LABEL PROFILES February 14, 2009

Blue Note at 70

No label in jazz can match the history and legacy of Blue Note Records. Since its founding in New York in 1939 by German emigre Alfred Lion, Blue Note has been associated with an amazing assortment of jazz luminaries including Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Jimmy Smith, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Andrew Hill, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley and Ornette Coleman, among many others. While hundreds of jazz labels have come and gone over the past 70 years, Blue Note continues to survive and thrive with an impressive ...

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MULTIPLE REVIEWS April 6, 2008

Lee Morgan: Vols. 2 and 3

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Lee Morgan was just 18 when he led these exemplary hard bop dates for Blue Note in the winter of 1956 and spring of 1957. But, as these newly remastered Rudy Van Gelder editions attest, the Philadelphia-born trumpet phenom was mature far beyond his years, with a hard-driving, take-no-prisoners style that gained the attention of band leaders like Art Blakey and Dizzy Gillespie, both of whom hired the precocious teen when he was barely out of school.

Lee Morgan Vol. 2 Blue Note 2007 reissue

While he was still a work-in-progress here, more a ...

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MULTIPLE REVIEWS March 7, 2008

Frank London: A Night in the Old Marketplace & Gachupin

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Frank London A Night in the Old Marketplace Soundbrush 2007 Gachupin Gachupin Self Released 2007

Nearly a decade in the making, A Night in the Old Marketplace is an ambitious project based on a 1907 play by Yiddish writer IL Peretz featuring a powerful score by klezmer virtuoso Frank London and darkly poetic lyrics by playwright Glen Berger. If that description sounds a bit esoteric, relax; London and Berger (and theatrical ...

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MULTIPLE REVIEWS January 5, 2008

Terell Stafford and Alvin Queen

Terell Stafford Quintet Taking Chances - Live At The Dakota Max Jazz 2007

If you're looking for a modern twist on classic, Blue Note-style hard bop, look no further than trumpeter Terell Stafford. A former Bobby Watson, Benny Golson and McCoy Tyner sideman, and current member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Stafford is no revolutionary, but he is at the forefront of younger players putting their own stamp on the jazz mainstream. Stafford's latest release on the Max Jazz label is a live date recorded two years ago at the ...

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BOOK REVIEWS December 8, 2007

Jazz Katz: Jazz in NY

Jazz Katz: Jazz in NY Jimmy Katz Hardcover; 188 pages ISBN: 978-3-9810250-4-0 JazzPrezzo 2007

Over the past two decades, Jimmy Katz has established himself as probably the preeminent jazz photographer of his generation, capturing the recent New York jazz scene with the same artistry, passion and deep knowledge of the music as past masters like Francis Woolf, William Claxton and Herman Leonard.

Jazz Katz is a feast for the eyes, a beautifully printed volume that brings together 175 of Katz's black and white photographs of most of the ...

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BOOK REVIEWS November 4, 2007

Coltrane: The Story of a Sound

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Coltrane: the Story of a Sound Ben Ratliff Hardcover; 250 pages ISBN-13: 978-0-374-12606-3 Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2007

New York Times jazz critic Ben Ratliff's new John Coltrane study is really two books in one. The first is a concise, convincing assessment of the evolution of Coltrane's music from his early days as a not particularly distinctive bebop saxophonist through his apprenticeships with Miles and Monk to his seminal achievement with the classic quartet of the '60s and his final role as a free-jazz trailblazer. The second, ...

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