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CD/LP/Track Review

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tierney Sutton: Paris Sessions

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Think you know every aspect of Tierney Sutton's artistic persona? Think again. Hearing the Paris Sessions is to hear Sutton anew. Sure, it's that same one-of-a-kind voice, but there's no Tierney Sutton Band here, incredibly novel arrangements aren't a priority on this one, and there's no grand umbrella theme to contend with. This is simply a captivating listen-by-candlelight album that strikes to the heart of Tierney Sutton. Paris Sessions is easily the most informal item in Sutton's discography, but the idea of informality shouldn't carry a negative connotation; quite the opposite, in fact. This is a work ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rigmor Gustafsson: When You Make Me Smile

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Rigmor Gustaffson's extensive discography, stretching back to 1997, has seen the Swedish vocalist working with major jazz musicians such as Jacky Terrasson and Eric Harland. When You Make Me Smile is her sixth album on the ACT Music label--all of which have included “You" in the title. Gustafsson is a subtle vocalist--no over-the-top melodrama or blues hollerin' here--and this is a polished collection of songs. The album title and its cover photo of a smiling Gustafsson hint strongly at an upbeat, if sentimental, collection of pop-jazz songs. There's certainly plenty of examples--"A Different Kind," “Blind As A Bat" ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Adam Lane: Live In Ljubljana

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In light of today's economic hardships, jazz orchestras or more precisely innovative jazz orchestras are really only little big bands. When you cannot travel with two dozen musicians, a leader must recruit players who can project a synergetic sound that appears greater than the sum of their parts. Masters of the little big bands include Taylor Ho Bynum's Sextet, Ken Vandermark's various projects, including Audio One and Resonance Ensemble and Adam Lane's Full Throttle Orchestra. Lane's outfit of seven to nine players (eight here) combines the best of traditional large group swing with what Lane calls live orchestration, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Andy Biskin's Ibid: Act Necessary

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A working jazz musician in New York City and environs since 1991, clarinetist, composer, and filmmaker Andy Biskin is a modern-day Renaissance Man. The Texas native was already a fixture in San Antonio's polka scene (yes, people, this is a thing) as a teenager, Biskin attended Yale where he double-majored in music and anthropology. Later, he joined the staff of the legendary folklorist Alan Lomax. While working as an independent videographer and video producer / director, fate intervened and a chance meeting with Gunther Schuller in an elevator resulted in Schuller producing Biskin's debut album, Dogmental (GM Recordings, 2001). Since ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sylvie Courvoisier Trio: Double Windsor

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The piano trio is the supreme discipline in jazz. Through rich possibilities, it functions as a strong filter sifting out those few who were and are able to set new standards. What matters is how the three instrumental vertices relate to each other dynamically, harmonically and soundwise to build something coherent, in close dependency. Eventually, each shift at one vertex inevitably triggers shifts by the other two. New York pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, not excessively jazz affined in her previous work, kept distant from this classic format hitherto--even when Tzadik's spiritus rector John Zorn kept on inciting her. On ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Avishai Cohen - Trumpet: Dark Nights

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From the brooding opening title track to the closing Chet Baker homage, “I Fall in Love Too Easily," Dark Nights unapologetically embraces the heart of jazz. Every aspect of the album--from the cover photo, to Cohen's precise trumpet inflections, to the trio's dedication to immediacy and collective improvisation (and even the album's forays into electronic affects)--is saturated with the emblematic textures, rhythms, and imagery of jazz. This is achieved with professionalism, creativity, and skill, without a wit of irony or cliché, while avoiding both navel-gazing insularity and crowd-pleasing revivalism. Instead, the album's ten tracks wander the shadowed corridors ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Larry Fuller: Larry Fuller

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Bassist Ray Brown sure knew how to pick his pianists. While each player who manned the 88s in Brown's trio displayed a different personality, all had Swiss watch timing and shared an affinity for the blues and effulgent swing. It didn't take more than a few seconds to hear that when Gene Harris was on the bench, delivering church-y proclamations and earth-shaking tremolos, and it was equally noticeable when Benny Green put his hands to good use, displaying the Oscar Peterson-esque athleticism that remains his calling card. And while there isn't very much recorded evidence to cover pianist Larry Fuller's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wadada Leo Smith: Great Lakes Suites

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Two of the most enduring voices avant-garde jazz belong to trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and reedman Henry Threadgill. Smith's The Great Lakes Suites, six of his distinctive compositions on a two CD set, teams the two icons inside the equilateral quartet that includes drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist John Lindberg. It sounds like a dream team, and it is. DeJohnette has played on Smith's Golden Quartet, Lindberg has joined the trumpeter in a variety of contexts, groups large and small. Threadgill is new to the fold. All the groups members--with the exception of Smith--were born and grew up ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Karl Seglem: NyeSongar.no

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Looking at the cover of the album NyeSongar.no, there's no doubt that the Norwegian saxophonist and goat horn-player Karl Seglem is still exploring the Nordic aesthetic that he perfected on his album NORSKjazz.no (Ozella, 2009). The resemblance between the titles is striking and it is underlined by a Nordic iconography. NORSKjazz.no had an image of tall Norwegian trees and NyeSongar.no is graced by a photograph of an endless landscape covered by snow. In the foreground there is a stone and it has a pile of goat horns beside it. It is almost tempting to think that Seglem ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stefano Bollani: Joy in Spite of Everything

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Like a kind of musical contortionist, Stefano Bollani keeps repositioning himself with eye-popping ease. The diversity and eclecticism of Bollani's projects are reflected in the sweeping breadth of his vocabulary; his output as leader on ECM alone, since his debut Piano Solo (ECM, 2006), is indicative of his adventurous spirit. That solo outing was followed by Orvieto (ECM, 2011), a joyous duologue with Chick Corea, whereas the exhilarating O Que Sera (ECM, 2013) coupled the Italian with Brazilian bandolim player Hamilton de Holanda. With Bollani virtuosity is a given, but the pianist's first ECM effort fronting a group is a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gjertrud Lunde: Hjemklang

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Music is a language that speaks in several tongues. This statement is taken quite literally on Norwegian songstress Gjertrud Lunde's album Hjemklang where she sings in her own native language, as well as English, Norwegian, French and Portuguese. Each language is a new instrument for Lunde, a range of vocal possibilities, shades and accents, but the thing that binds it all together is a depth of feeling and delicacy. Hjemklang can loosely be translated as “the sound of home" and this is exactly what the album conjures: a safe haven of sound. As Lunde sings on “Going ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Pharoah & The Underground: Spiral Mercury

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The formation of the Chicago Underground collective in the late '90s provided cornetist Rob Mazurek with an unrestrictive setting to explore the endless possibilities of creative improvised music with his Windy City peers. A lengthy sojourn in Brazil followed, resulting in a similar project--the São Paulo Underground. Mazurek's international activities subsequently established him as a prolific composer and industrious bandleader.It was the release of Bill Dixon with Exploding Star Orchestra (Thrill Jockey, 2008), Mazurek's fortuitous collaboration with vanguard trumpeter Bill Dixon, that confirmed his credentials as a visionary avant-gardist. The equally enthralling Matter Anti-Matter (caught on tape in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Abbey Rader: The Message

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Drummer Abbey Rader's four decades long career has been one of intrepid innovation and creative ingenuity. His unique approach to his instrument brims with unconventional virtuosity and a deep spiritual sense. His The Message on his own Abray label, is a three part, entirely improvised suite recorded live in Miami in January of 2014. Sort of a musical allegory about the various phases of life the harmonically multi-textured performance has an undercurrent of wise serenity even during its wildest most energetic moments. For instance on “Arrival," as the two saxophones soar over Rader's dark rumble, altoist Noah Brandmark's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Null: Null

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Young Norwegian fusion trio Null--guitarist Viktor Wilhelmsen, bassist Aksel Jensen and drummer Stian Lundberg--speculates on what would have happened if the Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix plans to record an album together were realized. And how it would have sounded if influenced by the work of seminal Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal, mainly in his seventies bands, when playing in dance clubs. Null aesthetics encompasses all aspects of the often disregarded genre of fusion, with all its power, acrobatic techniques and often virtuoso playing. The commanding, charismatic guitar playing of Wilhelmsen is clearly inspired by Rypdal, especially ...



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