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Pt. 1, Ashley’s Graduation Party

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Who is B.D. Lenz and why does he get a column in All About Jazz? The answer to the first question is that I'm a jazz guitarist/bandleader based out of the northern New Jersey area. The answer to the second question is because I asked. I've been leading my own band since I graduated from college in 1995 and, during that time, have released ten CDs (six independently) of my original music, have had my songs ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Northern Expo 2018

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Northern Expo Various Venues Svalbard, Norway October 4-6, 2018 There are music showcases and there is Northern Expo. The idea, if not the logistical operation behind it, was simple enough. Invite a few dozen international music industry movers and shakers to Svalbard, an archipelago half way between Norway and the North Pole. There, present them with some of Northern Norway's finest contemporary musicians and dancers in settings both conventional and, as was the case with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Gravity Project: The Gravity Project

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Born in Osaka, Japan, the veteran costume designer Junko Koshino has thrived on opposing images. Be-tentacled alien women can be expected to appear next to Greek goddesses in her shows. Her philosophy has thus been described as taikyoku, the Japanese word for “extreme opposites." Here comes the relevant bit... Now consider Masaki Nakamura, a young star of the shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo-flute) who has performed at Koshino's fashion shows but also in castles, shrines and temples. More extreme opposites, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Evil Genius: Experiments on Human Subjects

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It would be an uplifting experience to see this trio go at it in a live setting. For those who need comparisons, think of a cross-pollination between some of John Zorn-produced kinetic avant-garde jazz fusion, psych and rock ensembles along with Frank Zappa influences, and punk jazz groups. Guitarist Max Kutner is the lead guitarist of the Magic Band, performing the music of Captain Beefheart while also working with renegade guitarist Henry Kaiser, trumpeter Daniel Rosenboom and the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Blue Jay Patten: Street Scene

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With Street Scene, multitalented musician/composer/producer Blue Jay Patten engages in a highly entertaining tribute to (and stroll through) Nashville, “Music City." Patten--long a fixture in the 'ville--and his various crews deliver an eclectic, upbeat, and all-around fun tour. As is the city it salutes, Street Scene is a veritable gumbo of genres--contemporary, jazz, country, gospel, pop and folk--each approached with integrity, outstanding musicianship and sparkling sass. Appropriately for a Nashville nod, the instrumental opener, “Rocky Top," has Patten's ...

IN PICTURES

Sharon Clark with the John Toomey Trio at the Historic Attucks Theater

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Washington, D.C. vocalist Sharon Clark wowed a sold out Attucks Theater audience with the voice and phrasing of Sarah Vaughan at her best. With John Toomey on piano, Jimmy Masters on base and Brian Jones on drums Ms. Clark covered the gamut from pop to jazz, from Miles Davis to the Beatles. The audience jumped to their feet more than once after being treated to outstanding scatting and singing. Clark did not have to embellish to sell a song. Her ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Supersonic 2018

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Supersonic Birmingham, England June 22-24, 2018 Running since 2003, the Supersonic festival specialises in musics that press firmly against the limits of cranial perception, whether expanding from deep inside our inner liquids, or fracturing in unexpectedly like a bolt of intrusive alien contaminate. Supersonic sounds can be minimalist and meditational, but most often they are pulsating, scything, crashing or splintering, prompting headbangs or butt-shuffles, according to ratios of guitars and electronic basslines, subsonic or ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Walter Smith III / Matthew Stevens / Joel Ross / Harish Raghavan / Marcus Gilmore: In Common

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Eschewing the traditional desire for their compositions to be individually attributed, this group of five virtuosos has instead determined to retain a collective responsibility for their music. This is a brave philosophy but it works remarkably well. In this spirit, “freefive" is a tentative improvised duet between Walter Smith III on tenor saxophone and Matthew Stevens on guitar. Things take off on the swinging “Unsung," Stevens' crystalline guitar tone now channeling Bill Frisell. “YINZ" is a more obvious ...

RADIO

(Not So) Standards

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For decades jazz standards have provided improvisers with both a vehicle and a testing ground for their creativity. In some cases they have taken more liberties than others. This week we focus on not-so-standard renditions of jazz standards, from “Take Five" to “My Favorite Things," from “Mood Indigo" to “'Round Midnight," two hours of jazz played with boundless creativity (and a good dose of humor!). Happy listening! Playlist Farmers Market “Take Five -Take 11" from ...

SOCAL JAZZ

Marcus Miller: America's AmBASSadoor

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Marcus Miller is most often described as a jazz, funk, soul, fusion, and R&B bassist. As much as that is accurate, it is a description that falls well short of the mark. Miller is a high-end musical sponge who manages to incorporate today's cultures and rhythms into his compositions, layered within the framework of sound he has polished over the past four decades. He is perhaps best known as a musician in connection with Miles Davis, David Sanborn, ...