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INTERVIEWS

John McLaughlin on the Mystery of Creativity, Inspiration, & Music

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Improvised music within a sophisticated framework is one if the primary hallmarks of jazz. World class improvisation requires split second reactions, mental agility, dexterity, and the emotive soul of an artist. As a testament to his age defying vitality, on January 29, 2018 at the age of 76, John McLaughlin won a Grammy® Award for the Best Improvised Jazz Solo at the 60th Annual Grammy® Awards. This was his pitch perfect acceptance: “Winning a Grammy is a wonderful ...

PROFILES

The Jazz Corner's Lois Masteller Makes It Happen

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As a child my mother and legion of aunts--I'm from a large Italian family--tried to impose the “meant to be" philosophy on me. Remember the tune “Que Sera, Sera/Whatever will be, will be"? When something good happened, say you won a ribbon at the science fair, it was because “it was meant to be." The converse was also true, insinuating you only need wait for things to go your way, not work for them. That advice chafed like an over-starched ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Leap of Faith Orchestra: SuperClusters

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On two occasions each year, composer and multi-instrumentalist PEK (David M. Peck), gathers together his Evil Clown collective for live recordings. Culled from Leap of Faith, String Theory, Mekaniks, Metal Chaos Ensemble and their respective off-shoots of each, the players form his massive, eighteen-member Leap of Faith Orchestra. For the SuperClusters session, the group assembled at Longy School of Music at Bard College with a specially written score that takes advantage of the individual sub-groups' previous experiences.As LOFO ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sons of Kemet: Your Queen Is A Reptile

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It is appropriate that this, British-based Sons of Kemet's third album, should be released under the Impulse banner. During its heyday, Impulse was the home of John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders and as such was the chief platform for the cosmic/spiritual jazz movement of the 1960s and 1970s and that movement's demand for white-majority society's recognition of black culture and respect for black people. In 2018, the multi-racial Sons of Kemet, led by tenor saxophonist and composer Shabaka ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Introducing Phil Stewart: Melodious Drum

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Cellar Live Records continues its run of admirable mainstream albums with Melodious Drum, Canadian-born and New York City-based Phil Stewart's debut as leader of his own groups, which range from trio to sextet. It's an interesting title, as Stewart's drums may be congenial but aren't melodious in the manner of, say, Jeff Hamilton, Ed Thigpen, Shelly Manne, Chico Hamilton or even Louie Bellson. He simply keeps very good time without excessive frills or flamboyance, while his solos are forceful yet ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Justin Almquist: The Speed of Dark

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How fast does dark actually go anyway? It's light that makes the most common and obvious metaphors for speed, after all. Then again, as the great Terry Pratchett wrote: “no matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first and is waiting for it." Shadows simply grow in a different way entirely--this movement is more the subtle kind that creeps through the cracks, no matter what you do, with the unhurried weight of inevitability behind ...

Tender and Fierce Blessings: Malcolm, Coltrane and My Mentor Nat Hentoff

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Dear Nat, It has been awhile since I wrote. You are heavily on my mind. I must say I miss the ability to reach out to you when I had something magnificent to say about my Kids for Coltrane Project in Education. Sharing other positive news in education such as George Lucas's online magazine Edutopia and the amazing research coming out of Harvard's Project Zero was nourishing. Working out my personal deep frustration with certain aspects of the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joachim Kuhn: Love & Peace

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The German ACT label achieved global recognition when they issued the Esbjorn Svensson Trio album Viaticum (2005) and they warrant broader discovery by U.S. jazz fans. Though their country's best known label casts a global shadow over its competition, the ACT catalog has included Richie Beirach, Lars Danielsson, Vijay Iyer, Manu Katche, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Bugge Wesseltoft, Tore Brunborg and a host of other well-known artists. Among those talents is one the finest--but under-recognized--jazz pianists of the past half-century. Joachim Kühn ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yazz Ahmed: La Saboteuse

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If Miles Davis was alive today and in the studio recording In A Silent Way, the results might, just might, resemble London-based Yazz Ahmed's La Saboteuse. Other approximate reference points are Jon Hassell and Brian Eno's Dream Theory In Malaya: Fourth World Volume 2 and, during the more rocking-out moments, Davis's Bitches Brew. But Ahmed's album is no knock-off of any of those discs, nor is it built around the kind of shape-shifting production interventions employed by Eno or by ...