Much is said about records once they've come into the world, but little is discussed about the motive(s) surrounding the birthing of a record. Sometimes it's simply about marketing, exposure, money, and pure narcissism. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that on some level(s), and many classic albums have been made with little to nothing else in mind, but it's harder to appreciate the artistry and the artist when records made for such reasons appear on the horizon. It's far more satisfying to sit back and soak in the beauty and power of expertly-crafted music that's been made in the name ...read more
Who could ever forget the assertive, pulse-quickening theme from Peter Gunn, the urbane TV detective series that ran from 1958-61, with its jazz-centered score by the incomparable Henry Mancini. In case you are one of those who has (forgotten the theme, that is), you can now savor it anew (with much more music from the show), splendidly performed by the Harmonie Ensemble / New York, directed by Steven Richman. Among other things, the series showcased a small jazz group playing unassuming themes at Gunn's waterfront hangout, Mother's, while backing the establishment's stylish singer, played by Lola Albright. Although it wasn't ...read more
Ever since the jazz was created in the clubs and dancehalls of New Orleans, there was always a significant influence from the Caribbean region, specifically from Cuba. The island, which was just a ferry ride from the port city, had such a significant effect on the development of the music that Jelly Roll Morton always spoke of the importance of Afro-Cuban based rhythms (the Spanish Tinge) in creating and performing this nascent music. However, it was the arrival of a prodigious trumpet player named Mario Bauza from Havana who not only embedded himself into the swing band culture which dominated ...read more
Translating guitarist/producer Daniel Lanois' evocative guitar and ability to create stratified soundscapes into soundtrack music for actor Billy Bob Thornton's directorial debut Sling Blade may seem an unusual choice, but the outcome turns into an interesting and unique blend of his darker, moodier incidental guitar and a variety of other instrumental touches. Lanois' music has always been about mood and ambience and other people have benefited from his unusual gift of capturing or creating all kinds of ambiences. This multitalented musician, thinker and a driving force behind the creation of many great records is a creator of sonic witchcraft. His ...read more
Despite having yet to make a breakthrough in North America, in the space of less than five years Marius Neset has gone from virtual unknown to one of Europe's hottest properties, gigging with his quartet all around the continent, including an incendiary showcase at the 2012 Jazzahead! trade show in Germany and an even more searing set at the 2014 Jazzkaar festival in Estonia. That this young Norwegian-born/Denmark- based saxophonist (still on the shy side of 30) has managed to achieve so much in so little time is not only evidenced by Lion, but by his carrying enough weight to ...read more
Those of us who know better laughed, snickered, recently, when we read that Harlem-based vocalist extraordinaire Mansur Scott was a rising star." We will agree that he is definitely a star" because he always shines when he sings. His first album, Sometimes Forgotten Sometimes Remembered (Pao Records, 2010), was excellent and caught the attention of a great deal of music lovers. His latest recording, Great Voices Of Harlem (Pao Records) includes two other singers, Gregory Porter and Donald Smith, who shine, too. Porter, he of the velvety-heavily- church influenced chops, who is one of hottest acts ...read more
Cold Truth Warm Heart isn't Mike Pope's first album as a leader (it's his third), but in the 12 years since The Lay of the Land (Whaling City Sound, 2002), the bassist has, in addition to some serious life-changers, forged a relationship with two musicians of unequivocal significance. First appearing on Joe Locke's State of Soul (Sirocco, 2002), Pope has worked with the superb vibraphonist and equally fine pianist Geoffrey Keezer in the by turns incendiary and profoundly lyrical Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group since 2006, first documented on the charging out of the gate Live in Seattle (Origin, ...read more
In jazz terms Puerto Rico has certainly punched above its weight, producing Juan Tizol--a mainstay of Duke Ellington's bands in the 1930s and 1940s, Eddie Gomez and Manolo Badrena--who came to prominence in the 1960s/1970s through their respective associations with pianist Bill Evans and Weather Report--and latterly David Sanchez. Lesser known--though perhaps that's soon to change--is guitarist Rafael Rosa, whose enticing debut reveals a composer and technician of some sophistication. Carlos Maldonado's barril--a lower pitched Afro-Puerto Rican cousin of the Cuban conga--introduces the lively Bomba Oscura." Maldonado's variations on the sicá rhythm percolate beneath the driving rhythms of ...read more
Blending modern jazz with any aspect of funk or R&B is a risky proposition for a young jazz musician. No matter how personal one's concept may be, or how artfully executed, a segment of the jazz- listening population is going to yell sellout!" at the first electric bass slap. Though he doesn't do slap bass, Michael Feinberg is unapologetically drawn to the funky, danceable aspects of jazz. He does so without really making any obvious pop or R&B overtures. Live At 800 East is a jazz album through and through. But it's one that can get your hips moving. In ...read more
Nothing warms the heart cockles of a late-Baby Boomer more than a discussion of music, specifically that of his or her childhood. Baby Boomers are a boisterous and opinionated bunch regarding their music, fully justified in believing that the period between mid-1950s and mid-1970s was, in the words of VH1 Executive Director Bill Flanagan, a Golden Age" in American Music. Restrict that conversation to the best live rock recordings and the dialog shifts to a high simmer, under pressure, threatening rebellion or all-out apocalypse at any moment as I was to learn with my graded publication of The Best Live ...read more
While jazz purists like to think that the artists they love have always been into jazz and nothing else, the truth is often more than a little different: not only have most jazz artists who grew up in the '60s and beyond been unalterably impacted by more than just the jazz music of their time, but they remain fans of music beyond the genre's broadest purview. Yes, there are purists, but most musicians--irrespective of the style of music upon which they focus as performers and writers--are not just jazz fans, they're music fans, plain and simple. So it's no particular ...read more
One of the really enjoyable things about listening to jazz is that, after a few years, one is able to discern some aspects of a particular musician's stylistic evolution. If her debut album, Feathery, is any indication, saxophonist Lena Bloch has staked a claim on some of the most distinct real estate in the jazz neighborhood; the 50s era cool school jazz of Lennie Tristano, Warne Marsh, and Lee Konitz. Far from being a mawkish tribute or an entry-level primer on what Tristano, Marsh, Konitz, et al. were up to, Bloch has gone well down the path of forming her ...read more
Originally released in 1990 on Brian Eno's forward-thinking Opal Records and reissued again, two years later, on All Saints Records, Jon Hassell's City: Works of Fiction was the trumpeter/keyboardist/conceptualist's fourth official" installment in the Fourth World series that began with Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics (EG, 1980), followed by Fourth World Vol. 2: Dream Theory in Malaysia (EG, 1981) and Aka / Darbari / Java--Magic Realism (EG, 1983), though this groundbreaking and ultimately vastly influential concept truly began to take shape with his first recording under his own name, Vernal Equinox (Lovely Music, 1977)--where, as he described in his ...read more
So many jazz piano trios, so little time! With Wide Eyed, the Danny Fox Trio proves very definitively that they are worthy of your attention. Fox' wickedly humorous, tightly-conceived, multi- stylistic compositions and his trio's remarkably sensitive interplay are completely attention-grabbing. One listen was enough to make me a believer. Like a lot of the more interesting piano trios working today, these guys are youngsters. Fox, a New York City native and Harvard grad, formed the trio in 2008. A prodigy of sorts who was selected as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts as a teen, Fox now appears to ...read more
Join our growing community ofwriters, musicians, visual artists and advocates.
One moment, you will be redirected shortly.