Multiple Reviews

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Brooklyn Jazz Underground: A Trio of Hits

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Modern jazz has a problem. And Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records' recent slate of releases illustrates the growing dilemma: a surfeit of excellence. Across the spectrum, artists are innovating at such a high level and plumbing the depths of musical expression with such regularity that it's hard to keep pace (or avoid hyperbole). Jazz's aperture is wide open and BJUR's cultivation of creative music's cutting edge underscores that fact. The label's efforts also remind us that periodically throughout history ...

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Three contrasting Bertrand Denzler releases

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It seems that Swiss-born tenor saxophonist Bertrand Denzler is already involved in so many contrasting groupings that he would have no need to be joining or creating yet more. Active groupings of which he is a member include Hubbub, Mark Wastell's The Seen, Trio Sowari, Zoor, plus a trio with Eddie Prevost and John Edwards. Some others seem dormant, but not actually extinct, including the saxophone quartet Propagations, his own Bertrand Denzler Cluster, and a duo with Hans Koch. In ...

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Two INSUB releases

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When Switzerland's INSUB records issued its first two releases in a new format in early 2014, that innovative format got nearly as much attention as the music itself. Solving the download vs. physical object debate, its combination of attractive packaging (including A3 poster-size artwork) with a download code gave customers the best of both worlds. That solution was also compatible with the Insubordinations label's history; since 2006 its netlabel for improvised music has issued a steady stream of impressive downloads, ...

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Three From Intonema

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When the ninth and tenth releases on St. Petersburg's Intonema label were released, it was noteworthy that neither of them featured a Russian musician, despite the label's catalogue previously featuring such notable Russians as saxophonist Ilia Belorukov, bass guitarist Mikhail Ershov and pianist Alexey Lapin alongside a distinguished cast of fine overseas players. Happily, the label's three subsequent releases, below, have not continued that trend, as two of them feature Russians, including one solely by the Russian Andrey Popovskiy. And, ...

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The Art of the Guitar: Samo Salamon, Christer Fredriksen, Rez Abbasi & Juan Pablo Hernández

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The guitar is an instrument that continues to inspire musicians around the world and since early pioneers like Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian showed the endless possibilities of the instrument, the guitar has also been an important part of the evolution of jazz. One can certainly speak of a genre called jazz guitar, with characteristic chord shapes and patterns, but the thing that is noticeable about many of the new jazz guitarists is that they break away from standards and ...

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Eric Hofbauer Quintet: Prehistoric Jazz – Volumes 1 & 2

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With sure workmanship and untamed inquisitiveness, Boston-based guitarist Eric Hofbauer is no stranger to confronting unusual yet stimulating music. Examples include 2008's uncharacteristic guitar duo The Lady of Khartoum with Garrison Fewell or the striking American solo series--American Vanity (2004), American Fear (2010) and American Grace (2013)--which crossed distinctive terrains of improvisation and covers of iconic pieces such Louis Armstrong's “West End Blues," Cindy Lauper's “True Colors" and a raucous take on rock group Van Halen's “Hot for Teacher."

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Martin Speake: The Unquiet Mind

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We have here three very fine CDs from British alto saxophonist, Martin Speake. Speake is classically trained and when I first heard him in the late 90s, he brought to jazz a tone that emphasised the clarity of each note and the purity of the melodic line that was quite unusual in a music more used to the personalised sounds of a Hodges, a Bird, a Desmond or an Ornette. Over the years, his alto playing has perhaps become more ...

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Dave Rempis: Zen Master

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The best application of philosophy to improvised music is the Chinese concept of “wu-wei." The best translation of this is “no trying." Many listeners have the false impression that it takes a sophisticated ear or at least years of listening to “get" improvised music. Actually, the opposite is true. The key is wu-wei or the art of trying not to try. That's why children effortlessly absorb and assimilate free jazz; they simply have no blocks to the spontaneity of the ...



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