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Extended Analysis

April 15, 2014

Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: American Adventure

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By JOHN KELMAN

Sometimes an idea seems great on paper, but in execution doesn't exactly work out as planned. Other times, that same idea doesn't just look great, it actually exceeds already high expectations. When saxophonist Tommy Smith--almost single-handedly responsible for rebuilding a modern jazz scene in his home country of Scotland, where he returned after studying at Boston's Berklee College of Music in the 1980s and releasing a couple of well-regarded albums on Blue Note--brought his Scottish National Jazz Orchestra to the United States in the summer of 2013 for a short tour, he came up with the idea of hitting Avatar ...

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April 15, 2014

Anne Mette Iversen's Double Life: So Many Roads

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By DAN BILAWSKY

Music making, like life itself, is all about balance. In both worlds, highs and lows, triumphs and tragedies, harmony and melody, chaos and order, the clinical and the emotional, the simple and complex, and so much more are constantly being balanced on the scales. Rarely are things in perfect equilibrium, yet so many people strive to reach that place; bassist Anne Mette Iversen is one of those people, and So Many Roads is her musical treatise on the art of balance. This work initially took shape as a travel down imaginary highways, but Iversen quickly realized that ...

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April 14, 2014

Mark Weinstein: Latin Jazz Underground

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By DAN BILAWSKY

Has flautist Mark Weinstein run out of ideas on how to merge various dialects of Latin jazz with other musical tongues? The answer is a resounding “no." Latin Jazz Underground finds Weinstein saluting the loft jazz scene of the '70s by tackling the work of jazz iconoclasts-turned-icons--pianist Andrew Hill and saxophonists Ornette Coleman and Sam Rivers--and like- minded originals. That concept, in and of itself, doesn't distinguish this project, as plenty of people have traveled down those thorny paths, so the twist comes with the infusion of Afro-Cuban ideals. Such a marriage is a risky union, but ...

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April 14, 2014

Sons of Kemet: Burn

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By PHIL BARNES

The first thing you notice about Shabaka Hutchings' latest project, Sons of Kemet, is the unexpectedly large feel to the recording's soundscape. Not only does it have the hallmarks of a warmer analogue past but the reverb is at times extraordinary, being akin to hearing the band play in an immense auditorium with twice as many musicians as the relatively paltry core quartet listed in the credits. Drummer and producer Seb Rochford explained in interview that this was achieved by passing the band's microphones through echo machines from which he did live improvised takes that were underlaid behind the original ...

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April 13, 2014

Ola Kvernberg Trio: Northern Tapes

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By JOHN KELMAN

It's been three years since Ola Kvernberg released the ambitious Liarbird (Jazzland, 2011), a studio document of his 2010 Molde International Jazz Festival commission where guest Joshua Redman was recruited for the live performance, but where, far more than a ringer for Kvernberg, Redman was clearly awestruck by this virtuosic young violinist/composer. It's not that Kvernberg hasn't been busy, either: in addition to being a featured soloist, the same year, with Motorpsycho's progressive rock-heavy collaboration with Supersilent/Elephant9 keyboardist Ståle Storløkken, the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and Trondheimsolistene string ensemble for another staggering live performance later documented on the even more impressive ...

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April 12, 2014

John Carter & Bobby Bradford: Tandem

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By JOHN EYLES

The music on the double CD Tandem (remastered) was all previously available on two single Emanem CDs, Tandem 1 and Tandem 2, released in 1996. They have now been withdrawn and replaced by this release. In the process the music has been programmed in a more sensible order and, as the album title highlights, the sound of the recordings has been improved. Cook and Morton's The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings said of Tandem 1 that “the sound on these live recordings is pretty deplorable," which has always seemed rather a harsh judgment given that many listeners have enjoyed it ...

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April 12, 2014

Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration Deluxe Edition

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By JOHN KELMAN

A star-studded show celebrating the music of Bob Dylan, televised around the world thirty years after the release of his first Columbia recording, 1962's Bob Dylan, could have been seen as swan song; after all, Dylan was in a period of songwriting inactivity that would last from 1990 through to his potent reemergence with 1997's Time Out of Mind (Columbia) and a less prolific but still impressive period ever since. But at the time, nobody knew if Dylan the songwriter was finished. In fact, nobody even knew if Dylan was going to show up to his own party at New ...

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April 12, 2014

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Requiem

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By C. MICHAEL BAILEY

Bruce Haynes, in his book The End of Early Music: A Period Performer's History of Music for the Twenty-First Century (Oxford University Press, 2007) states: “More than anything else, Authenticity seems to be a statement of intent. Totally accurate historic performance is probably impossible to achieve. To know it has been achieved is certainly impossible. But that isn't the goal. What produces interesting results is the attempt to be historically accurate, that is, authentic." John Butt, director of the Dunedin Consort, doesn't simply take these words to heart...he takes them fully for granted. He ...

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April 11, 2014

Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra: Habitat

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By JOHN KELMAN

It may have been the title of her last album--Treelines, Christine Jensen's first large ensemble recording--but there was no song of that name on the 2010 Justin Time release. Instead, it's the lead-off to Habitat, Jensen's second album with her Jazz Orchestra, a commissioned work for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Jazz Orchestra, its director, Dr. Paul Haar, looking for the Canadian saxophonist/composer to continue the strong work begun on Treelines. And why not? Treelines may have been the Montreal, Canada-based saxophonist's first large ensemble recording, but over the past 15 years she has gradually emerged as not just a saxophonist ...

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April 10, 2014

Barry Guy New Orchestra: Amphi - Radio Rondo

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By JOHN SHARPE

One of the most noteworthy releases of 2013 was the Barry Guy New Orchestra's Mad Dogs (Not Two), a five disc compendium which collected largely freeform meetings between various subsets of the 11-piece company during their 2010 residency in Krakow. However even that copious set offered only a partial view of the Orchestra's range, a deficiency filled by the issue of Amphi + Radio Rondo which should perhaps be seen as a companion piece. Recorded in St Johann in Tirol, Austria in 2013, the session showcases the BGNO's rendition of the two titular charts by the British bassist. Renowned as ...

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April 9, 2014

Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band: Landmarks

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By JOHN KELMAN

Four records in 16 years may not be prolific, but clearly Brian Blade and his longstanding Fellowship Band aren't about quantity. While a seemingly scant two years separated the drummer's leader debut (and inspiration for the group name), Fellowship (Blue Note, 1998) from its even more impressive follow-up, Perceptual (Blue Note, 2002), the group's next record, Season of Changes (Verve) came a full eight years later in 2008, and beyond a label change also reflected the trimming down of the Fellowship Band from its original septet to a sextet with the departure of pedal steel virtuoso Dave Easley.

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April 9, 2014

Pat Metheny Unity Group: Kin (←→)

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By IAN PATTERSON

Nine years after the Pat Metheny Group crowned its mammoth The Way Up (Nonesuch, 2005) tour before 100,000 people at the Montreal Jazz Festival, it seems increasingly unlikely that Metheny will reconvene his main vehicle, not now with a vibrant new group pushing him compositionally and slaying audiences. Or does it? In a 2012 interview with All About Jazz , drummer Antonio Sanchez--who has worked closely with Metheny for a dozen years--said of the PMG: “everybody is craving another go around." It could yet happen, for the 40th anniversary just around the corner in 2017, for example. In ...

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April 8, 2014

Arve Henriksen: Chron | Cosmic Creation

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By JOHN KELMAN

Despite the suggested evidence of 2008's Cartography (ECM) and 2013's follow-up, Places of Worship (Rune Grammofon), trumpeter Arve Henriksen's career has not only been about the intrinsic--and deeply personal--lyricism that defined those recordings, as well as the three Rune Grammofon recordings that preceded them--2007's Strjon, 2004's Chiaroscuro and 2001's Sakuteiki, those three recordings collected in the beautiful limited-edition vinyl box Solidification (Rune Grammofon, 2012). It should not be neglected that Henriksen remains a founding member of seminal noise improv group Supersilent, whose last release, the vinyl-only 11 (Rune Grammofon, 2010), was culled from the same sessions as 8 (Rune Grammofon, ...

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April 8, 2014

David Bach: Otherworld

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By GEANNINE REID

Like the famous composer from whom Bach shares his last name, the Washington, D.C.--Baltimore--Michigan based pianist David Bach has a deep love for the piano and melodic music is the theme on his CD, Otherworld. “My parents never had to ask me to practice," says Bach of his formative encounters with the piano. “I just sat there and learned the stuff, and people started responding to what was happening. That was all the inspiration I needed to keep going." As the recipient of two Gold Records and winner of the 2004 Maryland State Art Council Performance Award, the David Bach ...

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