January 2004

Glenn Astarita By

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Dennis Chambers – Biréli Lagrène – Dominique DiPiazza

Sunnyside Records

Recorded in France, this is a turbocharged jazz-fusion outing of the highest order. Guitarist Biréli Lagrène and bassist Dominique DiPiazza perform impossibly fast unison lines while drummer Dennis Chambers keeps this train a-rolling. You’ll hear crisp swing grooves, polyrhythmic drenched time signatures and revved up funk beats. Guitar hero John McLaughlin joins the entourage on the final track, entitled “Joseph.”

I Wish I Knew

Silviano Bazan Trio featuring George Robert with special guest Phil Collins

TCB Records

Pianist Silvano Bazan leads an international trio, with alto saxophonist George Robert sitting in on four pieces. Yet, the real surprise here is pop vocalist Phil Collins’ jazz balladry on the standard “Teach Me Tonight.” However, the majority of this outing consists of bouncy, mainstream jazz piano trio stylizations. Bazan possesses a keen sense of swing to augment his rhythmic attack, while Robert’s fluent lines yield notable results. To that end, you can generally count on this Swiss record label’s proclivity for encapsulating strong musicianship within impressive sonic engineering.

Tales From The Cryptic

Guy Klucevsek & Phillip Johnston

Winter & Winter

If you’re familiar with either of these stylists, then it should come as no surprise that this pairing would offer quite more than what most mortals would be able to cook up. Any perceivable limiting factor of an accordionist (Guy Klucevsek) performing solely with a saxophonist (Phillip Johnston) is quashed with this endearing production. Framed within a chamber-like setting, the duo explores the outer reaches of harmonic principles via lamenting ballads, up-tempo exchanges, and multirhythmic jaunts. The music is largely unclassifiable, yet irrefutably palatable.

Even The Sounds Shine

Myra Melford Ensemble


This is the reissue of the original Hat Hut recording emanating from live performances recorded during the band’s 1994 tour of Europe. Arguably, this set reigned as one of the top modern jazz dates of the mid-‘90s. Pianist Myra Melford, trumpeter Dave Douglas and reedman Marty Ehrlich explore that very thin line, bordering free-jazz type improvisation and mainstream concepts, steeped in richly thematic lyricism. Nearly ten years later, the music sounds as imaginative and engrossing as it did upon its initial release.

The Original/Best Of

Johnny Cash


This posthumously released 2-CD set features The Man In Black’s greatest hits. However, the late artist’s recorded legacy includes several previously issued packages of this ilk. He crossed many boundaries during his storied career. His poetic lyricism not only highlighted slices of Americana, but he frequently displayed a skewed wit, evident on hits such as “A Boy Named Sue” and other tomes. And of course, his legacy will endure for many years to come.

15-Year Reunion – Live at the Frankfurt Book Fair

The Ganelin Trio

Leo Records

The band’s fifteenth year reunion is a captivating effort recorded live in Germany. Here, the Russian trio’s multitasking abilities follow suit. At times, you’d swear there were more than three instrumentalists on board, but this is the sort of thing that always earmarked the band’s sound and scope. They toggle between various jazz-inflected genres, amid a penchant for classically oriented undertones. The sax-keys-drums format defies rigid classifications as they effortlessly whirl through ambient soundscapes and blitzing improvisational flurries. During its prime, the band’s uncompromising intensity and remarkable cunningness equated to nothing short of superhuman musical feats.


Mario Pavone Nu Trio/Quintet

Playscape Recordings

Bassist/composer Mario Pavone is a mover and shaker on his latest release. His prominently executed vertical bass lines provide a bubbly bottom for trio and quintet work, featuring pianist Peter Madsen and other New York City-based musicians. Pavone’s resonant lines serve as a firmly rooted and sometimes loose anchor for Madsen, trumpeter Steven Bernstein and saxophonist Tony Malaby. The band displays great depth as they bob and weave throughout the upbeat numbers that skirt the fringes of free jazz and the straight and narrow. Madsen’s melodically woven, upper register chord voicings on the piece titled “Rebass Song,” signifies just one of the album’s many highlights.


At The Crossroads

John Hammond

Vanguard Records

Estimable vocalist/guitarist John Hammond’s jubilantly produced acoustic-electric spin on Robert Johnson’s compositions should stand as one of the better blues efforts of 2003.


Gilbert Isbin


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