New & Noteworthy


August 2007

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Antonio SanchezMigrationCam Jazz2007

Drummer Antonio Sanchez lets his hair down on this vibrant modern jazz outing with guests pianist Chick Corea and guitarist Pat Metheny. The twin saxophone attack of Chris Potter and David Sanchez (no relation) enhances the band's bravura, especially on Joe Henderson's classic “Inner Urge, given a snappy and complex reading. The drummer smothers his kit with crisp break-outs and polyrhythmic flurries on some of his own pieces plus tunes by Corea, Miles Davis. Cleverly produced and arranged, the music is engineered with an edge appropriate to its twists and turns. ...


July 2007

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Daniel SmithThe Swingin' BassoonGuild Music2007

Bassoonist Daniel Smith switch hits from classical to swing to hard bop on this rewarding studio set. Other than some choice solos by pianist Martin Bejerano, the quartet stays in the background, providing support to Smith's amazingly fluid lines, which shine forth through a set of jazz standards. You can just imagine saxophonist Charlie Parker on bassoon during the band's take on “Scrapple From The Apple. Here and throughout, Smith's spiky phrasings are balanced by brisk runs fortified by lots of pop, zip and seemingly effortless control. ...


June 2007

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Kiko LoureiroUniverso InversoIndependent2007

Brazilian jazz-fusion guitarist Kiko Loureiro's scorching, plugged-in guitar licks create a compelling contrast here with Yaniel Matos' acoustic piano work. Loureiro is a precocious young chops-meister who favors climax-driven solos colored by sustain and distortion effects--plus an occasional nod towards Allan Holdsworth during some of the more legato-based passages. Less frenetic than some of his American peers, Loureiro's clean licks and advanced grasp of dynamics offer a knockout blow.

Jerry Granelli V16The Sonic Temple: Monday and TuesdaySonglines2007

Drummer/bandleader Jerry Granelli has enjoyed a ...


May 2007

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Adam Lane/Ken Vandermark/Magnus Broo/Paal Nilssen-Love4 CornersClean Feed2007

Here's an early contender for my 2007 best-of list, in which Adam Lane continues his progress towards the top echelon of modern jazz bassists/improvisers. The band combines turbo-mode power and semi-structured pieces--and rattles the senses. At times, Lane amps up his double bass and the quartet's blistering, groove-oriented persona glows in mottled fashion. Lane and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love's dual polyrhythmic attack creates a massive but pliant undercurrent for reedman Ken Vandermark and trumpeter Magbus Broo's torrid soloing maneuvers. Recorded at a Portuguese jazz festival, the audience's jubilant ...


April 2007

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DimliteThis Is EmbracingSonar Kollektiv2006

Dimitri Grimm (Dimlite) revs up a party atmosphere with synth-based layers, quirky noises and quaint melodies on this his third release. Vocalists are featured on some tracks, and trippy textures are coupled with old fashioned space-rock. However, Grimm's solid beats include a modern upgrade. On “Hungeryears & Advanced Communication, he stirs the pot with madcap background banter, and elsewhere adds urban rap to the mix. But Grimm varies the sound with whispery dreamscapes and textures. An attractive hybrid of electronica and house pulses, in a varied and entertaining format, which ...


March 2007

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Age Of NemesisTerra IncognitaMagna Carta2006

This Hungarian progressive-metal band excels in the composition department. There's a plot which involves a girl who connects with an angel to visit the afterlife, and the album's overall theme mines the phantasmagorical seam so often favoured by prog-metal outfits. That aside, the quintet conveys a flair for dynamics. Herculean crunch chords convey a feeling of triumph, before segueing into melodically-tinged choruses--it's a massive wall of sound, full of sinuous time signatures and memorable hooks. Lead vocalist Zoltan Kiss emerges as a top-flight rock vocalist. He sings in English ...


February 2007

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John Carter/Bobby Bradford QuartetSeekingHatology2006

Recorded in Los Angeles back in 1969, this reissue is good enough to be classified as desert-island fare. Originally part of the co-operative New Art Jazz Ensemble, the late multi-woodwind musician/composer John Carter and trumpeter Bobby Bradford present a hip and ultra-modern vision of West Coast jazz. It's timeless, progressive music that holds its weight in glistening, up-tempo style nearly four decades after the fact. The horn players engage in melodic and complex unison choruses atop the rhythm section's rigorous cadences. In spots, Carter's whispery flute lines counterbalance higher octane ...


January 2007

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Walter BeasleyReady For LoveHeads Up2006

Saxophonist/composer Walter Beasley is one of the real superstars of contemporary or smooth jazz. With several producers and a tight accompanying ensemble, he offers sounds of romance and in-the-pocket grooves. As an alto and soprano technician, Beasley sports a sweet-toned and silky-smooth delivery atop savory synth treatments spiced with funk and soul. He rekindles memories of classic Motown with soothing vocals heard on “Miss You, and glides through softly woven ballads and techno-funk passages. Despite mainstream jazz aficionados' disdain for this radio-friendly, jazz-tinged genre, Beasley elevates the tried and ...


December 2006

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Richard PinhasMetatronCuneiform2006

French guitarist and electronics wiz Richard Pinhas' soars to lofty heights on his latest album, a double-disc fiesta. He sports a blazingly fuzzed-out sound, marked by scorching single note runs and inventive sound manipulation and distortion. Pulsating, asymmetrical rhythms play a key role in the music too. Pinhas and his band-mates inject rich chemistry into their space-rock loops, with sweeping violins and other laptop-basd effects. As an added attraction, Metatron is set in a wide-open musical vista, in which minimalist-type themes expand and contract to produce a massive wall of sound.


November 2006

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Joan SanmartiScandal?Satchmo Jazz2006

Veteran Spanish jazz guitarist Joan Sanmarti and his quintet venture towards classic, hard-bop, swing and excursions into the free zone during this rather jaunty session. With Frederic Carlquist and Victor de Diego providing a dual-core saxophone attack, the leader's fluent lines and solid compositional acumen intimate arching angles and elements of suspense. Sanmarti chooses his notes wisely amid a sequence of briskly articulated single note flurries and intricate progressions. On “Block (Peradedebo), he switches to acoustic, where the band fuses a touch of American style country & western with saxophone-driven jazz ...


October 2006

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Spontaneous Music EnsembleBiosystempsi2006

A re-issue of the original 1977 Incus LP featuring thirty-five additional minutes of previously unreleased music. Drummer and cornetist John Stevens' groundbreaking freedom-of-expression unit is given some nice packaging, featuring historical factoids by Ian Vickers and former SME member, saxophonist Evan Parker. The band itself was akin to a collective, yet this outing marked a diversion, largely due to the absence of horns (although Stevens blows the cornet in spots). The organic, homespun stylization of the music emanates from Nigel Coombes' salty violin lines complementing acoustic guitarist Roger Smith and cellist ...


September 2006

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Chet Doxas QuartetSidewalk EtiquetteJustin Time2006

Twenty-five year old saxophonist Chet Doxas surges onward as one of Canada's modern jazz young lions. Here with his quartet, Doxas blends a slightly retro, jazz-fusion vibe with shifting rhythms and straight-ahead swing vamps, and the band's forthright gait certainly packs a punch. Doxas himself favors an edgy sound, where harmonic development is hardwired into unexpected time changes, probing solos, cyclical currents and arresting dynamics. The album contains enough diversity to sustain interest, and for such a young lad Doxas demonstrates gobs of maturity. Future outings, however, might benefit ...


August 2006

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John Wolf BrennanPictures In A GalleryLeo Records2006

Pianist John Wolf Brennan recorded the mostly brief works on this album on location in Swiss and Russian museums. Composing on-the-fly, he took inspiration from hanging artworks by Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso and other masters. As a pianist, he creates an attractive hybrid that crosses avant-garde and modern jazz piano styles, and is rich in polyrhythmic breakout passages. Improvisation is at the forefront throughout, but Brennan wears other hats too. His colorful avant-classicism, with its lushly romantic themes and contrapuntal manoeuvers, is notable. His prepared piano work, ...


July 2006

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Mike Keneally BandGuitar Therapy LiveExowax2006

Guitarists Mike Keneally (right channel) and Rick Musallam (left channel) steer a high-impact progressive rock slugfest on this genuinely exciting live date, which is chock-full of knotty time signatures and propulsive rhythmic explosions; Keneally sweetens the boiling pot with heartwarming lead vocals. The quartet soars toward the heavens with aplomb, not looking back. Drummer Joe Travers is a force to be reckoned with, largely due to his often dazzling polyrhythmic technique alongside bassist Bryan Beller's fluid bottom end. The group conveys a comprehensive progressive rock viewpoint, going for the ...

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