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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brian Groder Trio: Reflexology

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The cover of trumpeter Brian Groder new trio tells much about his aesthetics. He is well-versed with the compositional ideas of the great American jazz masters and their improvisation strategies--Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, including trumpeters as Woody Shaw and Freddie Hubbard. But in the same manner that these innovative and creative muscians marked their sonic footprint in the rich legacy of the genre, Groder not only reflects on past achievments but wants to take this genre a step forward. Groder enjoys the company of experienced and highly versatile improvisers--double bassist Michael Bisio, who lives ...

TAKE FIVE WITH...

Take Five With Mason Razavi

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Meet Mason Razavi: Starting out as a self-taught rock guitarist, Mason began studying jazz and playing in working rock bands as a teenager. After hearing an Andres Segovia recording for the first time at age 22, Mason changed directions dramatically and focused on the classical guitar for several years before returning to jazz and the electric guitar. Though first and foremost a jazz guitarist/composer, his diverse background has led him to play in settings ranging from rock bands to accompanying concert choirs, backing up jazz singers, and as a classical soloist. Mason has studied guitar and composition ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ken Berman: Sound Poetry

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Pianist Ken Berman's friendship with the late poet Eythan Klamka served as the inspiration for Sound Poetry, a musical project of mostly original compositions bookended by two solo reinterpretations of classic jazz standards. Poet Klamka, to whom this album is dedicated, had previously stated that “any true musician is a sound poet" and to this end, poetry and music come together on the pianists fourth album as leader. Along with electric bassist Kai Eckhardt and drummer Akira Tana, the Berman trio brave through a selection of fresh new material of light improvised nature. Billy Strayhorn's oft-recorded standard “Lush ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Microscopic Septet: Manhattan Moonrise

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In the 80s, the band engendered a cagey slant on mainstream swing and then morphed into the risk-taking New York downtown scene, eventually garnering widespread attention and sell-out crowds at the Knitting Factory and other hip venues. They regrouped in 2006, carrying the torch for what has become a singular sound, ingrained in classic jazz stylizations, bop, funk, and the free-jazz domain. Known for its quirky deviations, razor-sharp horns arrangements and melodic hooks, the septet's spunkiness and tightknit overtures align with the stars on Manhattan Moonrise. The musicians tackle a funk rock itinerary spiced with pianist Joel Forrester's ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Charles Lloyd: Arrows Into Infinity

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Charles Lloyd Arrows Into Infinity ECM Records 2014 Undoubtedly deserving the title modern day saxophone titan Charles Lloyd has made one of the most important contributions to the art better known as contemporary or modern jazz. Widely recognized as one of the most timeless and significant musicians in the history of jazz, his melodic sensibilities, playing style and compositions have delighted listeners and have influenced generations of musicians. Easily one of the most influential tenor saxophonists, the sound of this venerable saxophonist is recognizable in a matter of seconds. Directed by ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen: Elvis Never Left the Building

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The route through Graceland to a jazz concept album is a treacherous one. Popular music icons of varying styles--such as the Beatles and Joni Mitchell--have been transcribed with varying degrees of success. The more successful interpretations of The Crimson Jazz Trio benefited from their actual ties to King Crimson and outstanding musicianship. Now, pianist Peter Madsen's CIA Trio ventures into potentially contentious territory with Elvis Never Left the Building and pulls off a brilliantly executed coup. Madsen re-harmonizes ten Elvis Presley staples with the help of bassist Herwig Hammerl and drummer Alfred Vogel, both members of the Austrian based Collective ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jason Adasiewicz's Sun Rooms: From the Region

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An imagined overheard conversation in heaven between Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi goes something like this: “If only all music could swing this hard, there would be no need for war."Okay, maybe it wasn't MLK and Gandhi, but it could have been Horace Silver and Joey Ramone.In a trio format, Vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz picks up his mallets where Sonny Rollins set down his saxophone after recording the classic trio date A Night At The Village Vanguard (Blue Note, 1957). Maybe a better comparison would be to the rock trios, Cream, Nirvana, or The Jimi Hendrix ...

GNOME NOTES

Eric Zinman's Excellent European Adventures

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Eric Zinman goes to Europe each year on his own dime for a varying array of shoe string gigs with people who mean a lot to him as colleagues. He usually works with Mario Rechtern and people from a community in jny: Vienna that includes expatriate, Linda Sharrock. His most recent trip was especially gratifying as he is pleased to inform us. “For the first time Mario and I, with help from friends, were able to form a couple of truly international groups that can change the situation from my perspective by setting aside the heroic ...

JAZZLIFE UK

ReVoice! 2014: collaboration is a key to success

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The ReVoice! Festival--a celebration of the human voice--is five years old in 2014. Happy Birthday congratulations are in order for the jny: London based festival--this milestone anniversary is an indication of its success and of the wealth of vocalists in the jazz world and beyond. From small beginnings (just five concerts) in 2010 the festival has grown year on year. The 2014 festival program, running from 9-20 October, includes a total of 26 performances across 12 nights in four different venues. Its headliners include Rebecca Parris, Carmen Lundy, Ian Shaw and Claire Martin. It also reaches out beyond London for ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ryan Keberle & Catharsis: Into The Zone

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At the tail end of 2013, trombonist Ryan Keberle contributed an enlightened article-cum-manifesto to The NYC Jazz Record. In said piece, Keberle used Music Is Emotion (Alternate Side Records, 2013), the debut project from his piano-less quartet called Catharsis, as a springboard into discussion about left-brain vs. right-brain forms of creation, the importance of stressing musicality over complexity, and the need to find a way to that zen-like space where the music flows. The article--"Into The Zone"--foreshadowed the direction and title of this superb album. On Into The Zone, there isn't any intentional showboating, musical haughtiness, needless ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Walter Smith III: Still Casual

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There are countless musicians who perform but few that can make their instruments breathe as melodically as saxophonist Walter Smith III. In the opening track “Foretold You" from his release Still Casual, it's as if his horn is an extension of his thoughts and will--notes burning, graceful and flowing like a stream of ideas. Yet with these obvious abilities Smith is a diligent craftsman whose arduous schedule includes education, tours, and performances within a rotation of rising jazz leaders that includes trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and Eric Harland's Voyager ensemble. Since his debut Casually Introducing (Fresh Sound New ...

WHAT IS JAZZ?

The Virtues of Jazz

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Any jazz aficionado knows the musical virtues of jazz, whether they are a musician, a jazz writer, or simply a committed jazz listener. In classical Western thought (that is, in the musings of cats like as Aristotle and Plato), a virtue is a kind of excellence in performance that flows from a settled habit. One who plays the flute as it ought to be played--the proper tone, pitch, and timing--displays a virtue or sharp skill in that musical instrument. One may be virtuous with respect to any endeavor worth doing, since anything worth doing is worth doing well. One who ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Paul Shapiro: Shofarot Verses

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Saxophonist Paul Shapiro is one of the few who succeeded in blending organic soul and R&B with the Jewish tradition--the musical one and the liturgical texts--in a highly original, convincing manner. His fourth album for John Zorn's Tzadik label Radical Jewish Culture series enriches his unique and personal art. Shofarot Verses is part of the service recited on the Jewish New Year, referring to the biblical story of a conversation between “the eternal" and Moses, when “the voice of the eternal and the sound of the Shofar became one." Shapiro is backed by his touring quartet, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Raoul Bjorkenheim and eCsTaSy: eCsTaSy

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For me, guitarist Raoul Bjorkenheim is one of those musicians whose albums are always the subject of eager anticipation. His playing is both emotionally cathartic and intellectually gratifying. His highly-charged, utterly distinctive and immediately recognizable sound has been at the center of a number of fascinating cooperative groups over the past few years, including Scorch Trio with Paal Nilssen-Love and Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, the quartet Krakatau and ad hoc groupings with the likes of Hamid Drake, William Parker, Bill Laswell, Ståle Storløkken, and Morgan Ågren. As you may have gathered from these previous associations, Bjorkenheim is the sort of musician ...



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