Articles by Jack Bowers

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Album Review

Jon Gordon: Stranger Than Fiction

Read "Stranger Than Fiction" reviewed by Jack Bowers


New York-bred alto saxophonist Jon Gordon has come a long way since he was hailed as something of a prodigy in the mid-1980s and earned first place in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition in 1996. The music performed by Gordon's nonet on Stranger Than Fiction, we are told, “reflects [his] realization that reality takes twists and turns [that are] far more unpredictable than any author would dare write." There are indeed many twists and turns—most ...

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Album Review

Q'd Up: Going Places

Read "Going Places" reviewed by Jack Bowers


Q'd Up is a quintet comprising faculty members at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The group's latest album, Going Places, marks the end of an era, as two of its longest-serving members—multi-instrumentalist Ray Smith and pianist Steve Lindeman--are indeed “going places." In other words, they are retiring and making their final recorded appearance with the group, co-founded by Smith in 1983 as the Faculty Jazz Quintet, save for a companion album, Dawn Fire Mist, which is edgier and more ...

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Album Review

Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge: Within Us

Read "Within Us" reviewed by Jack Bowers


Any big band celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary has earned a triumph surpassing most others. To mark the occasion with an album as admirable as this one is icing on the celebratory cake. The fact is, composer/arranger Chuck Owen's Florida-based Jazz Surge, formed in 1995, shows no signs of aging or becoming obsolete. Thanks to Owen's broad-beamed and colorful charts, the Jazz Surge is as mesmerizing as a memoir and stylish as tomorrow. Half a dozen of Owen's ...

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Album Review

Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trios: Songs from My Father

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Songs from My Father. What a marvelous idea!—and not simply for the sentiment. Drummer Gerry Gibbs' father happens to be Hall of Fame vibraphonist (and sometime song writer) Terry Gibbs, who is still on the scene at ninety-seven (and, in fact, making a guest appearance on the first disc of this superlative two-CD set). Eighteen of the elder Gibbs' songs, written between 1949 and 1985 (and one more, “Tango for Terry," by the late Chick Corea) are performed by four ...

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Album Review

Steve Million: What I Meant to Say

Read "What I Meant to Say" reviewed by Jack Bowers


A word that springs to mind when listening to pianist Steve Million's quartet is “tasteful." If the music sounds congenial as well, that is probably because “four friends" are performing it. Two of them (guitarist Steve Cardenas, drummer Ron Vincent) were among the Kansas City-based friends who comprised Million's quartet in that city before he moved to New York in 1981; the “new friend" is bassist John Sims who started gigging with the group shortly before What I Meant to ...

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Album Review

Jared Hall: Seen on the Scene

Read "Seen on the Scene" reviewed by Jack Bowers


Seen on the Scene, Seattle-based trumpeter Jared Hall's second album as a leader, has a lot going for it: tight-knit group unity and tasteful dynamics; bright, technically polished solos by all hands; and engaging tunes by Hall and the late bop master, Tadd Dameron. As a bonus, the acclaimed alto saxophonist Vincent Herring is “on the scene" to share the front line with Hall, elevating the session whenever he assumes the spotlight. Hall's sound is crisp and ...

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Album Review

Pamai Chirdkiatisak: Dreamer

Read "Dreamer" reviewed by Jack Bowers


“Music is a universal language." “Jazz transcends bloodlines and borders." Listening to guitarist Pamai Chirdkiatisak's debut album, Dreamer, one quickly realizes that those phrases are more than mere slogans or platitudes. The fact that Chirdkiatisak's admirable quartet is based in Bangkok, Thailand, is apparent only when reading the album cover and personnel listing. The music itself is as inclusive as mom, apple pie and honoring the flag. This is unvarnished jazz, born in ...


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