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September 2004

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Groundtruther
Latitude
(Thirsty Ear)

The first in a series of three editions to feature the Charlie Hunter/ Bobby Previte Previte duo with a special guest gets off to a rousing, atmospheric start, as Greg Osby's sax and flute weaves in and out of an intoxicating sonic mix. In a decidedly less electronic context than their Red Dog Tango Leader project, the guitarist and percussionist interact with and support the always estimable Osby in such a way they generate an emotional bond you feel throughout the cd. This connection between the trio becomes all the more tangible with repeated listenings, thus rendering Latitude a less abstract, but no less challenging, musical experience.


Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
Walking with Giants
(Hyena)

You might think this band's name, not to mention the title of their label debut, to be a bit melodramatic---until you hear the panoply of sounds they unleash on this cd(and the accompanying limited edition DVD). Acoustic piano, drums and percussion mix with standup bass, cello, sitar and acoustic twelve-string to trigger one surprise after another, all rendered with the vigor of young musicians hitting their stride, totally unafraid of trying that which is new. Don't miss this one!


Herbie Mann-Phil Woods
Beyond Brooklyn
(MCG Jazz)

With a sprinkling of European spice to flavor this distinctly old-school collaboration, the understatement with which these two veterans interact is not the only virtue to be savored here. Their mutual respect is equaled by their respect for the jazz tradition, which makes for eminently satisfying music, the likes of which only those musicians with some history can create.


Jack McDuff
The Prestige Years
Charles Earland
Funk Fantastique
(Prestige)

Companion pieces and of a piece, alone and together these anthologies illustrate why the sound of jazz organ is one of the most venerable configurations of the genre. Even when guitars or horns season the sound, the meat of this soul stew is in the keyboard(s) of the respective masters, making the music as infectious, and as accessible, as jazz can be.


Geri Allen
The Life of a Song
(Telarc)

Fiercely intelligent, strongly melodic and forcefully rhythmic, it's impossible to tell if Allen elevated her performance in the company of Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette or if she had already escalated her ambition plus her technical and improvisational skill in anticipation of collaborating with these modern jazz stalwarts. Not that it mattes: this cd, the rare likes of which will make you sit down and listen whenever you play it, will find its place on any number of "best of" lists for 2005, it is that arresting.


Dave Liebman-Michael Brecker-Joe Lovano
Saxophone Summit-Gathering of Spirits
(Telarc)

Not an avant-garde creation by any means, this session nevertheless allows the three hornmen substantially more freedom than they usually give themselves (except perhaps with the exception of Liebman). Everybody gets a chance to blow, alone and in challenging interactions with the others, and not just on up-tempo either: ballads such as "The 12th Man" are extended exercises in detailed exploration of melody and insinuating rhythm.


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