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Illumination

AAJ Staff By

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It comes as a quiet blink in the dark, a sudden wash of color, or sheer blinding intensity. The best thing is, it happens without any warning. That's the sublime power of music created in the moment, always teetering on the edge of unpredictability. Once you've make that leap enough times, you'll find yourself addicted.

We like jazz because, in the right hands, it can be an extraordinarily illuminating experience. At some point during a swinging solo, you make a connection you never knew was there. With the onrush of a piercing crescendo, clarity leaps out and blinds you in the face. A quiet conversation between two improvisers coalesces into unpredictable unity. You can choose the music—but when it works, the music has a way of choosing you.

That can be quite habit-forming as well.

And, well, we admit it. We're hooked. The problem is, everyone's hooked on something different. When a collision between Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane yields sparks, Michael Bailey stands back in awe. Javier Antonio Quiñones Ortiz absorbs the aquatic reflections of Carlos Bernardo and gets lost in a vision of hawks and butterflies flying outside his window. Javier, man. You still there?

In a heated matchup, Matthew Shipp meets the Antipop Consortium —and Farrell Lowe finds himself lost in meditation. Kent Kessler plucks notes on his most unusual bull fiddle, entrancing Derek Taylor with the smoke rings that rise above it. Jack Bowers finds a perfect match to light his fire in the form of the Taylor/Fidyk Big Band. You see? And those are just a few scenes from the CD reviews department.

Of course, illumination works both ways, and we take advantage of that fact. This month we shine the spotlight on sixteen musical personalities through interviews and artist profiles. By the glow of his fireside chats, Fred Jung has conversed with six prominent musicians over the last month, including Hamid Drake, Joe Morris, and John Scofield. Several more artists find themselves exposed this month at All About Jazz through the effort of a number of writers. We love to spread ourselves thin, so you can see exactly how far we stretch.

Despite all this flurry of activity, there's no reason to take things too seriously. A notable twofer arrived in the inbox this month from resident humorist Jeff Fitzgerald, who wanders all over the place, suffering from an extraordinary degree of deranged distraction as he struggles to get to some sort of point about Leon Redbone . But in the process we learn Jeff's detergent of choice for laundering his parakeet's pirate outfits. And the fact that the Devil taught Redbone how to play the ocarina. And the identity of long-lost zither master Anton Karas. You can read the rest.

And lest you forget the interactive spirit that has always defined us as a publication, we extend another invitation for you to visit (and join) our discussion forums . Somewhere in those 4000+ posts, you're guaranteed to find plenty of interest (to be shared, of course). Get serious, talk about some music, or just goof off: this is the place. These forums have a way of snowballing as threads accumulate input from all sides.

But enough from the megaphone. Bathe in the glow of your favorite music, peek into the life of an unfamiliar artist, and illuminate your internet neighbors. This month at All About Jazz.

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