Despite having yet to make a breakthrough in North America, in the space of less than five years Marius Neset has gone from virtual unknown to one of Europe's hottest properties, gigging with his quartet all around the continent, including an incendiary showcase at the 2012 Jazzahead! trade show in Germany and an even more searing set at the 2014 Jazzkaar festival in Estonia. That this young Norwegian-born/Denmark- based saxophonist (still on the shy side of 30) has managed to achieve so much in so little time is not only evidenced by Lion, but by his carrying enough weight to ...read more
Foremost an innovator, John Riley has always been a drummer's drummer" in the world of straight-ahead jazz. With nearly a hundred recordings, a dozen videos, and five books under his belt, Riley is a veritable font of knowledge in the bebop realm. In this article, we take a look back at some of his musical endeavors including recording with Miles Davis, working with Quincy Jones, and playing drums with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. We'll also examine the changing landscape of music and discuss how younger drummers can find inspiration. All About Jazz: I've been a fan of yours ...read more
Odean Pope Quartet Chris' Jazz Café Philadelphia, PA July 19, 2014 Legendary tenor saxophonist Odean Pope, in addition to his international status and iconic recordings, often appears in Philadelphia, his home town, but usually in festivals, concerts, and other situations where he is part of a bigger mix. His one evening show at Chris' Jazz Café gave listeners a special opportunity to hear him in an intimate setting where they could really attend to the subtlety of his playing in addition to his intricate long runs fueled by his innovative circular breathing. For the ...read more
These two guest appearances demonstrate that pianist Matthew Shipp has become an elder statesman in the jazz world. How that happened can be boiled down to two simple elements. One: he has created a unique sound and language for improvised music and two: Shipp has become a doyen of cutting edge music making and opinion. Perhaps all of this could be foretold from his early apprenticeship in David S. Ware and Roscoe Mitchell's bands, and his collaborations with the likes of William Parker, Joe Morris, and Mat Maneri. He has also explored classical music, hip-hop, and electronica as ...read more
Cold Truth Warm Heart isn't Mike Pope's first album as a leader (it's his third), but in the 12 years since The Lay of the Land (Whaling City Sound, 2002), the bassist has, in addition to some serious life-changers, forged a relationship with two musicians of unequivocal significance. First appearing on Joe Locke's State of Soul (Sirocco, 2002), Pope has worked with the superb vibraphonist and equally fine pianist Geoffrey Keezer in the by turns incendiary and profoundly lyrical Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group since 2006, first documented on the charging out of the gate Live in Seattle (Origin, ...read more
In jazz terms Puerto Rico has certainly punched above its weight, producing Juan Tizol--a mainstay of Duke Ellington's bands in the 1930s and 1940s, Eddie Gomez and Manolo Badrena--who came to prominence in the 1960s/1970s through their respective associations with pianist Bill Evans and Weather Report--and latterly David Sanchez. Lesser known--though perhaps that's soon to change--is guitarist Rafael Rosa, whose enticing debut reveals a composer and technician of some sophistication. Carlos Maldonado's barril--a lower pitched Afro-Puerto Rican cousin of the Cuban conga--introduces the lively Bomba Oscura." Maldonado's variations on the sicá rhythm percolate beneath the driving rhythms of ...read more
Pianist Tigran Hamasyan's Shadow Theater is an innovative convergence of composition and folk music from his birthplace in Armenia. Having performed since the age of three, gained acclaimed in Europe and won first place at the 2006 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition, there's never been a question of his abilities. He shines in a traditional jazz trio setting in 2007's New Era (Plus Loin Music) with brothers François Moutin (bass) and Louis Moutin (drums) or showcasing virtuoso exploits in his 2011 solo release Fable (Verve). With musicians that include members of the jazz-rock band Kneebody (drummer ...read more
While jazz purists like to think that the artists they love have always been into jazz and nothing else, the truth is often more than a little different: not only have most jazz artists who grew up in the '60s and beyond been unalterably impacted by more than just the jazz music of their time, but they remain fans of music beyond the genre's broadest purview. Yes, there are purists, but most musicians--irrespective of the style of music upon which they focus as performers and writers--are not just jazz fans, they're music fans, plain and simple. So it's no particular ...read more
One of the really enjoyable things about listening to jazz is that, after a few years, one is able to discern some aspects of a particular musician's stylistic evolution. If her debut album, Feathery, is any indication, saxophonist Lena Bloch has staked a claim on some of the most distinct real estate in the jazz neighborhood; the 50s era cool school jazz of Lennie Tristano, Warne Marsh, and Lee Konitz. Far from being a mawkish tribute or an entry-level primer on what Tristano, Marsh, Konitz, et al. were up to, Bloch has gone well down the path of forming her ...read more
The title of this album isn't just talk; it basically defines Michael Lake's entire career in music. Lake has made his way in the music world by playing the alto trombone--an instrument that many would simply look at as a novelty horn. Many years ago, his teacher at Arizona State University--a graduate assistant named Kevin Hedges--turned him onto this lesser-used little brother of the tenor trombone; it's been his go-to horn ever since. As Lake worked his way into music, studies with forward-thinking trombonist George Lewis helped to widen his perspective, as did his move to Boston, ...read more
Originally released in 1990 on Brian Eno's forward-thinking Opal Records and reissued again, two years later, on All Saints Records, Jon Hassell's City: Works of Fiction was the trumpeter/keyboardist/conceptualist's fourth official" installment in the Fourth World series that began with Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics (EG, 1980), followed by Fourth World Vol. 2: Dream Theory in Malaysia (EG, 1981) and Aka / Darbari / Java--Magic Realism (EG, 1983), though this groundbreaking and ultimately vastly influential concept truly began to take shape with his first recording under his own name, Vernal Equinox (Lovely Music, 1977)--where, as he described in his ...read more
So many jazz piano trios, so little time! With Wide Eyed, the Danny Fox Trio proves very definitively that they are worthy of your attention. Fox' wickedly humorous, tightly-conceived, multi- stylistic compositions and his trio's remarkably sensitive interplay are completely attention-grabbing. One listen was enough to make me a believer. Like a lot of the more interesting piano trios working today, these guys are youngsters. Fox, a New York City native and Harvard grad, formed the trio in 2008. A prodigy of sorts who was selected as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts as a teen, Fox now appears to ...read more
Named musician of the year in the El Intruso 2013 critics poll, trumpeter Nate Wooley looks to be on a roll. That's in spite, or perhaps that should be because, of being so hard to pin down. His output stretches from experimental solo works such as Trumpet/Amplifier (Smeraldina-Rima 2011) and The Almond (Pogus Productions, 2011), to his more tradition-orientated quintet on (Put Your) Hands Together (Clean Feed, 2011) and (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship (Clean Feed, 2013). Malus pitches midway between the two extremes, and close to Six Feet Under (No Business Records, 2012) with Paul Lytton and Christian ...read more
Trained in an intensive ten-year classical piano program at Moscow's Gnessins School, and after quietly making records for over two decades, Russian native Yelena Eckemoff has been transitioning to a form of hybrid, classically informed improvisation with some exceptional results. 2010's Cold Sun, a trio featuring the exquisite drumming of Peter Erskine, was a tremendous musical statement for a leader making an early foray into improvisation and a record that is well worth seeking out to this day. With A Touch of Radiance, Eckemoff is expanding beyond her well-honed trio format into a quintet featuring some of New ...read more
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