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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

George Gee: Swing Makes You Happy!

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The George Gee Orchestra swings in the manner of Gee's friend and mentor, Count Basie, albeit on a somewhat smaller scale (Gee's group numbers only eleven, and that includes vocalists Hilary Gardner and John Dokes). Even so, the Basie spirit is ever-present, and if Swing Makes You Happy, Gee's eighth album as leader (and first for Rondette Records) should put a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Thanks to resourceful charts by trombonist / music director David Gibson, the ensemble generates a larger-than-expected sound while swinging its way through nineteen buoyant numbers, four associated with Basie ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Whiplash

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Whiplash Directed by Damien Chazelle Sony Pictures Classics 2014 Whiplash is director Damien Chazelle's portrait of an aspiring jazz drummer who falls prey to an overbearing conservatory teacher. Although the film has attracted well-earned praise for its acting and editing, this review sets technical flourish aside and approaches Whiplash not as a film, per se, but as a failed musical exercise--a didactic riff, if you will, on the power of “greatness" and the suffering born of its realization. Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is the 19-year-old protagonist, whose single stroke roll opens the film's ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Maria Schneider Orchestra at Jazz Standard

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Maria Schneider Orchestra Jazz Standard New York, NY November 25, 2014 Thanksgiving is a time to reflect, rejoice, regroup, and remember all that we have to be thankful for. In the jazz world, the Maria Schneider Orchestra always ranks at the top of that last category. For the past decade, the most important large ensemble in jazz has held court at New York's Jazz Standard during Thanksgiving week, delivering the powerful gospel of its leader as she directs her music with lithe movements and firm command. In 2013, a mournful tone ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Clare Fischer Big Band: Pacific Jazz

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The late Dr. Clare Fischer enjoyed a long and storied career as a composer, arranger, pianist, bandleader and educator, primarily on the West Coast. Luckily, one of those he educated was his son Brent who was at his father's side as a musician and adviser for more than three decades and has safeguarded the Fischer legacy since Clare's passing in January 2012. Pacific Jazz, the second album by the Clare Fischer Big Band under Brent Fischer's supervision, consists of music written and / or arranged by the elder Fischer during his remarkable career alongside a trio of new compositions and ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

The Magnificent Thad Jones – Blue Note 1527

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Man does not live by hard bop alone, even on Blue Note. Sometimes, you just got to have a ballad. When you're in the mood, this is the record for you. Thad Jones provides the horn, and he has never been better. Jones is best known as co-leader of the big band that bore his name, but this 1956 recording is his break-out moment as both a small-group leader and trumpeter. And while you may think of Jones as a hard bopper, five of this CD's seven tracks are either ballads or slow blues numbers. Add ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Gary Urwin Jazz Orchestra: A Beautiful Friendship

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Sometimes, just when it seems things couldn't possibly get any better, they do. That is certainly the case with A Beautiful Friendship, the spectacular new recording by arranger Gary Urwin's superlative southern California-based Jazz Orchestra. Having released three earlier albums showcasing the exceptional artistry of tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb and / or trombonist Bill Watrous, Urwin has upped the ante and pulled out all the stops on this one, not only re-enlisting Christlieb and Watrous for a consistently pleasing encore performance but enlivening the menu with yet another appetizing component, namely Carl Saunders, one of the most versatile and creative ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jim Cutler: Gimme Some Sugar. Baby!

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The music on Seattle-based saxophonist Jim Cutler's second big-band album is thematic; that is to say, it was written with people, places or experiences in mind. Half of the album's ten engaging essays were written by trumpeter Daniel Barry, four by Cutler and one ("Visions at the Monkey Bar") by baritone saxophonist James DeJoie who has his own tour de force, Barry's presumably Sauter-Finegan inspired “Spirit World." The shuffling opener, “Bella's Boogie," was penned by Cutler for his second daughter, Annabella, the funky “Gimme Some Sugar, Baby!" for his wife, Stephanie. The easy-flowing “Thumper," Cutler writes, was ...



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