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Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville 2018

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Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville Victoriaville, Quebec, Canada May 17-18, 2018 Keeping a middle-aged festival such as the Festival International de Musique Actualle de Victoriaville fresh and relevant is a challenge, but the program for this year's 34th edition of FIMAV assembled by artistic director Michel Levasseur had something more of an avant-garde and international flavor than we have seen in recent years. Prominent in the schedule are Asian musicians and Asian-influenced music as ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Vijay Iyer Sextet at The Village Vanguard

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Vijay Iyer Sextet Village Vanguard New York, NY May 17, 2018 I'll recreate this blistering first set the best I can. The sextet nudged their way through the Vanguard's current crowd and its deep history. The applause built. Vijay Iyer took his place at the piano, turned to the crowd, spilled water on some mic and electric cables and hoped it doesn't cause a problem. He introduced his band, obviously straining-at-the-bit: Graham Haynes trumpet, ...

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Spencer Day at The Green Room 42

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Spencer Day The Green Room 42 New York, NY May 18, 2018 In celebration of his seventh album, Angel City, singer/songwriter Spencer Day charmed the socks off a gracious audience at The Green Room 42. Day's greatness in both capacities lies in his ability to embody every song as if he were living it in real time. And while this comes across beautifully enough in the studio, in person one can feel those ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eric Siereveld's Organic Quintet: Walk The Walk

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Trumpeter/flugelhornist Eric Siereveld returned to New York after teaching in Madison, Wisconsin for three years. The debut recording of his Organic Quintet includes musicians from New York City and the Midwest. Tenor saxophonist Tony Barba is based in Madison; B3 organist Steve Snyder is the head of jazz studies at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and drummer Mitch Shiner hails from Milwaukee. Guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg is probably best known for his association with legendary organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, which makes ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jonathan Greenstein: Vol II

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The title is plain as can be, the vaguely ECM-ish cover is pretty in its simplicity, and the playing follows suit--not plain as in bland or boring, but in an honestly straightforward manner with a minimum of fuss. Jonathan Greenstein ascribes an “anti-hero nature" to his voice on saxophone, which simply means that he's not a big, colorful, out-in-front presence. This is a player who takes after the John Coltrane of “Naima" rather than the Coltrane of “Impressions."

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yoni Kretzmer's New Dilemma: Months, Weeks and Days

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Tenor saxophonist Yoni Kretzmer is not one to rest on his laurels or pursue straight and narrow musical paths as his discography consists of various ensemble configurations and objectives. With this hybrid chamber jazz and improvisation-based sextet, the musicians interpret the leader's compositions, structures and outlines via improvisational means. The ensemble delves into the experimental scheme of things, although these pieces do project semi-structured vibes, topped with gradual buildups, streaming strings passages and elongated unison choruses. Along with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sun Ra: Space Is The Place

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He was a solar flare, a surge of energy that rocketed across great distances and divides, bestowing all he encountered with unforgettable memories and disrupting radio transmissions. Science-fiction, transcendentalism, and jazz coalesced in the being called Sun Ra. A radical concoction, sky-bound and heaven-sent. Ra's music was always stratospheric, always reaching above and beyond. His constant striving resulted in an abundance of stellar records. But as a sonic statement and philosophical manifesto, 1973's Space Is The Place (Blue ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Najee: Poetry in Motion

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On Najee's 15th studio release, and fourth project for the Shanachie label, the Jamaica Queens, N.Y. native delivers an inviting, feel-good album on which he is joined by such diverse talents as pianist/keyboardist Bobby Lyle, multi-instrumentalist/producer/composer/arranger Barry Eastmond, multi-instrumentalist/composer/producer Jean-Paul “Bluey" Maunick, vocalists Will Downing, Maysa and Eric Roberson, and guitarist Blake Aaron. The multi-reedman's 1986 debut, Najee's Theme (EMI), was reflective of its time--an era when modern R & B grooves with jazzy inflections and rhythmic ambiance ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Solon McDade: Murals

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This all started with the washtub bass for Solon McDade, slipping into the switch to the more refined upright bass, and years of performance with the McDade Family Band, Canada's contribution to roots music. His career branched out and resulted in his playing bass on several recordings that won the coveted Juno Award, perhaps most notably with the Suzie Arioli Swing Band and The McDades. But roots music isn't his only game. Murals finds the composer/bassist embracing mainstream ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nat Birchall: Cosmic Language

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Spiritual jazz resonates most deeply during times of social stress and turmoil. It was, after all, created by African American musicians who were engaged with the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Later given the alternative description Afrofuturist jazz, the music had one foot planted in science fiction-inspired magical realism and the other in black consciousness-inspired social activism. The balance varied from musician to musician, but even the most magical realist among them--a grouping which would include Alice Coltrane, Pharoah ...