Remember when CDs were so expensive to make that record companies would release double albums and remove a track or two, just so that it could fit on a single CD? Well, there may be many negatives about the state of the music industry today---despite this being a time when so much music is being made that, like the glory days in the 1960s/70s, it seems like anything is possible...there's just no more industry support to help any of it reach the same number of people--but one good thing is that the price of manufacturing a CD has dropped so ...read more
Trumpeter Thad Jones and drummer extraordinaire Mel Lewis may have given birth to the band that's now known as The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, but the late Bob Brookmeyer gave the group artistic independence at a time when it was sorely needed. When Jones left the fold and departed for Europe at the tail end of the '70s, things could've gone a very different way for this storied outfit: it could've simply carried on as a pretty good band that covered Thad Jones' music, endlessly recycling songs of the then-recent past. The Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, né Thad ...read more
Julie Kelly is a talented singer whose talents are a fairly well-kept secret except on the West Coast, where she makes her home. Happy to Be is Kelly's eighth album, the first on Graham Carter's Colorado-based Jazzed Media label, and as has been her custom in the past, she chooses for the most part interesting songs that aren't heard nearly often enough. Compositions by Dave Frishberg, Bob Dorough, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Richard Rodney Bennett and even Phoebe Snow are here, hanging out alongside engaging themes by such lesser-known but no less able writers as Bill Peterson, Jim Tomlinson and Susan ...read more
So are there any first-rate big bands worth hearing in California outside of the Los Angeles area? So happy you asked. As a matter of fact, San Diego is solidly entrenched in that position thanks to the superb Ira B. Liss Big Band Jazz Machine which, coincidentally, has recorded a spectacular new album, It's About Time. Even though the Jazz Machine is now thirty-five years old, its various working parts remain untarnished, ensuring that no mishaps or glitches arise to impair a consistently bright and exhilarating studio session. To further underwrite its success, Liss persuaded a number ...read more
Few artists could call an album The Nature of Connections with as much veracity as Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen. There's been the myriad of collaborations on his own albums--just a small handful of the contributors to recordings including Places of Worship (Rune Grammofon, 2013), Cartography (ECM, 2008), Strjon (Rune Grammofon, 2007) and Chiaroscuro (Rune Grammofon, 2004) including producers/Punkt Festival co-directors Jan Bang and Erik Honoré; bassist Lars Danielsson; drummer Audun Kleive; Supersilent mates, keyboardist Ståle Storløkken and guitarist Helge Sten; singers David Sylvian and Trio Mediaeval's Anna Maria Friman; guitarist Eivind Aarset; and pianist Christian Wallumrød. And that doesn't account ...read more
Discovering unheard John Coltrane material is the Holy Grail for serious music devotees, and the imminent release (Sept.23,2014) of a 1966 live date in the form of Offering: Live at Temple University on the Impulse! label (in conjunction with Resonance Records and Universal Music) to join The Olatunji Concert and One Down, One Up Live at the Half Note in the Coltrane archive is good news, indeed, for those wishing to explore the iconic saxophonist's later years. Adding significantly to the first-class feel of this production is the inclusion of a 23-page liner booklet written by the always perceptive Ashley ...read more
Anyone who's had the pleasure of watching pianist Stefano Bollani in concert--whether it's in duo with fellow Italian, trumpter Enrico Rava, at the 2009 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival; in the trumpeter's New York Days quintet at the ECM 40th Anniversary celebration, part of the 2010 Enjoy Jazz Festival; or in one of his own various contexts (solo, trio, large ensemble)--knows that, above all, joy is fundamental to the music he makes. Sometimes it's blatantly obvious, as on his 2013 duo release with bandolim master Hamilton De Holanda, O Que Sera (ECM), where these two virtuosos could barely contain themselves and ...read more
Duets allow two musicians to work together intimately without the complications of a rhythm section. Such recordings are often done on the spot at the suggestion of one of the musicians or an agent. Historically, two iconic collaborations of this type were a studio gig with Jerry Mulligan and Thelonious Monk (Mulligan Meets Monk, Riverside, 1957 ), and Oscar Peterson et Joe Pass a la Salle Pleyel(Pablo, 1975). When musicians such as these are creative and can think quickly on their feet, the results are often exciting, even though the arrangements are severely limited by the fact that they haven't ...read more
It has been 14 years since the release of Vantage Point, Simon Phillips' last project as a leader, and nearly 26 years since his debut album Protocol. In these years, Phillips has become a drummer to the stars, recording and performing with the likes of Jeff Beck, The Who, and Judas Priest. In '92, following the death of founding member Jeff Porcaro, Phillips was asked to fill the drum chair for Toto. He would go on to occupy this position for 22 years, performing for and engineering landmark albums such as Through The Looking Glass and Falling In Between. Currently, ...read more
Margie Baker didn't begin her career as a jazz and blues vocalist in the San Francisco area until she was nearly 40, but she made up for this delayed entry with endurance: She was often featured at the Monterey Jazz Festival and as in Festival road shows led by Richie Cole and the legendary James Moody (for whom Baker penned Mood for Mr. Moody"). Baker also became one of Dizzy Gillespie's favorite vocalists and sat in with his band whenever she could--"He was my mentor until the day he died," she once recalled. This two-CD retrospective celebrates not ...read more
Tony Kadleck, who has done almost everything one can do on a trumpet, adds the designation big-band leader to his resume with Around the Horn, an impressive debut CD for which he has written all the charts and enlisted a group of the New York area's A-list musicians to interpret them. If leadership is best imparted by example, Kadleck shouldn't have a care in the world, as his discography includes more than eighty albums from pop to blues to jazz and various genres in between. An abbreviated inventory of the (big) names with whom he has played and recorded reads ...read more
Things are looking up for Bergen-based Stein Urheim, a musician who, on the basis of Stein Urheim--his second release on Hubro after the vinyl/download-only Kosmolodi (2012) and third as a leader following his 2009 debut, Three Sets of Music--seems interested in just about anything with strings...and a few without. Beyond his own career, which includes work with Gabriel Fliflet´s Åresong and a guest appearance on The Last Hurrah!'s 2011 Rune Grammofon debut, Spiritual Non- Believers, his Stein and Mari collaboration with Mari Kvien Brunvoll--an electro- acoustic singer who, since enthralling a group of international guests at a church showcase, continues ...read more
One of the Berklee College of Music's youngest instructors, violinist/mandolinist Jason Anick had already made a name for himself in 2008, when at twenty two years of age he was invited to tour with Grammy-winning guitarist John Jorgenson. Anick's tremendous virtuosity was to the fore on the acoustic Rhythm Future Quartet's Sleepless (Self Produced, 2011), a lively gypsy jazz romp--a genre he excels in. Tipping Point, however, showcases Anick's more contemporary songwriting acumen and the numerous stylistic strands that define his voice. Seamlessly fusing swing, bebop, hard-bop, classical, folk, as well as contemporary influences in his playing, it's a vibrant ...read more
When München's Haus der Kunst sponsored a nearly three-month exhibition about the ECM Records label, ECM: A Cultural Archeology, which ran from November, 2012 to February, 2013, there was far more to it than just bringing together collections of album covers, rarely seen video, archival tapes, imagery and concert performances. As much as ECM has carved a niche for itself as a label concerned about the whole package, including quality of sound, design and artwork, it is, after all, a record label, and one that has, in a history now spanning more than forty years, emerged as a singular, inimitable ...read more
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