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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Matthew Sheens: Untranslatable

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With his impressive debut Every Eight Seconds (Self Produced, 2012) garnering universally positive reviews, Australian-born, New York-based pianist Matthew Sheens returns with an even meatier, juicier follow-up. Every Eight Seconds introduced an original composer, one whose melodic and rhythmic ideas championed narrative over virtuosity. There's perhaps more of Sheens the Downbeat poll-winning pianist this time out but significantly Untranslatable ups the ante compositionally, with the Yanni Burton String Quartet leaving an indelible stamp on a third of the tracks. This isn't jazz with strings either, for Sheens' sophisticated string arrangements for two violins, viola, cello and double bass ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill O'Connell: Imagine

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Bill O'Connell's version of the standard “Willow Weep For Me" is one of those rare items: playing totally against type as a Latin burner with that classic, mesmerizing two-chord piano vamp, the only thing missing would be someone actually trying to sing this lament amidst the happy sprawl of players and arrangement O'Connell's dished up. Unlike other gestures into Latin-land that sprout from tune to tune with other jazz musicians, what makes Imagine notable is the combination of writing with strong solos, song and solo, one after the other. And then there's the group vibe. One might recall ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Miguel Zenon: Identities Are Changeable

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It would simply be enough to just hear Miguel Zenón's saxophone; its fluid, darting, humming bird-like maneuvers, soulful and piercing. Yet as one of the most distinctive altos in jazz, the Grammy nominated and Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow is also a gifted composer who continues to deliver insights into his culture as vividly expressed in 2011's Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook and 2009's Esta Plena, both released on Marsalis Music. His ninth recording as a leader, Identities Are Changeable, is an ambitious project that finds Zenón with his longtime quartet (Luis Perdomo, piano; Hans Glawischnig, bass; ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Afro Bop Alliance: Angel Eyes

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Latin Grammy Award-winning group Afro Bop Alliance lend their infectious hard-driving and percussive Latin-tinged sound to Angel Eyes, the group's fifth album staking one more claim for yet another future Latin Grammy nod. Known for their percolating percussion as well as dipping into straight ahead jazz, this Washington D.C. based octet lets the rumba rumble, the cha-cha churn and the samba simmer on another exciting energizing album of note. Led by drummer/percussionist and Afro Bop Alliance founder Joe McCarthy, the band also consist of a three-piece horn section a bassist, pianist, a vocalist and Victor Provost on the steel pans. ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Miguel Zenon Quartet at 36th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival

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Miguel Zenon Quartet Millenium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion 36th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival jny: Chicago, IL August 31st 2014 The last evening of the festival was pleasantly warm and mild and the millennium park, around the Jay Pritzker Pavilion band shell was packed with people. The Frank Gehry designed signature stainless steel headdress with its custom designed sound system to replicate impeccable indoor acoustics has been the new home of the festival for the past two years. It is here that that alto saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón lead his quartet for 55 awe ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yosvany Terry: Yosvany Terry: New Throned King

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Yosvany Terry is part of the new wave of young Cuban players who have come to these shores during the last decade and established a solid presence based on their artistry and virtuosity. What has distinguished Terry from his counterparts, however, is that while most of the Cubans are either pianists or drummers, his instruments of choice have been the alto and soprano sax. In the meantime, Terry, who is the scion of one of Cuba's musical first families, Los Terry, has been a mainstay on the New York jazz scene playing with the likes of Eddie Palmieri, Roy Hargrove, ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

The Caribbean Tinge: Live from Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola

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Ever since the jazz was created in the clubs and dancehalls of New Orleans, there was always a significant influence from the Caribbean region, specifically from Cuba. The island, which was just a ferry ride from the port city, had such a significant effect on the development of the music that Jelly Roll Morton always spoke of the importance of Afro-Cuban based rhythms (the Spanish Tinge) in creating and performing this nascent music. However, it was the arrival of a prodigious trumpet player named Mario Bauza from Havana who not only embedded himself into the swing band culture which dominated ...



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