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Articles | Featured | Future

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alexander Hawkins / Elaine Mitchener Quartet: UpRoot

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Taking risk is--among other things--the essence of free jazz and experimental music. It is by taking risk that musicians can develop their own identity and push further the too many musical borders. With the possibility to take risk, a sense of freedom emerges--whether this sense of freedom refers to something real is not important here--and a range of new possibilities are now being unleashed. A sure sense of freedom emanates from UpRoot, and The Alexander Hawkins / Elaine Mitchener Quartet ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eric Alexander: Song of No Regrets

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Eric Alexander, who has been wielding as impressive a tenor saxophone as anyone on the scene for more than two decades, returns to the studio for what seems the umpteenth time with an abundant stockpile of point-blank pleasures on Song of No Regrets, an essentially Latin-grooved session that leaves room on the first two numbers for the superlative trumpet work of guest artist Jon Faddis. One of Alexander's strengths, and perhaps the one that has caused him ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alexander Hawkins / Elaine Mitchener Quartet: UpRoot

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Since the mid-2000s, British pianist, composer, Alexander Hawkins (Evan Parker, Chicago/London Underground) has become a force to be reckoned with, largely within Europe's exploratory progressive jazz and improvising circles. As a collaborator and solo artist, the pianist transmits a distinctive line of attack, where melody and free-form extrapolations enjoy a happy coexistence. On this studio set, he teams with notable performance artist, abstract vocalist and fellow Brit, Elaine Mitchener (Phil Minton, George Lewis) for a semi-structured set highlighted by the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Say Bok Gwai: Trio / Chinese Jesus

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If you ever wondered what an angst-ridden, scaled back version of Sonic Youth would sound like if the musicians were overdosing on energy drinks, then the core duo of Say Bok Gwai may represent that notion rather mightily, and then some. Based in San Francisco, the unit is billed as a Chinese American hardcore rock band. Noted as a double EP, and the first time they've employed a bassist (Josh Martin), the musicians cover the social condition via an extremely ...

CATCHING UP WITH

The Dazzling Alexis Cole

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Jazz singer Alexis Cole's career has been anything but conventional. She's done residencies in far-flung places like Ecuador, India, and Japan. She fronted the Army's big band for several years as a soldier herself. And now she's a faculty member in the jazz program at SUNY Purchase. With a dozen critically acclaimed albums under her belt, some big awards on her shelf, and more good stuff to come, Alexis distinguishes herself a leader in the ever-evolving world of vocal jazz. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joey Alexander: Joey.Monk.Live!

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The late Thelonious Monk is most certainly the toast of the town these days. With the High Priest of Bop's centennial upon us, he's being saluted from all corners of the jazz world. Pianist John Beasley is leading the charge on the big band front with his MONK'estra, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith is reflecting on the great pianist-composer all by his lonesome, and New York's Jazz Standard has given over Monk's birth month to a broad swath of tributes to ...

CATCHING UP WITH

Alex Han: Embracing The Spirit

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With a bold, invigorating, and adventurous sound, alto/soprano saxophonist and composer Alex Han is a sonic force on his debut CD, Spirit. The project was produced by none other than the 2009 Berklee College of Music graduate's longtime employer and friend, the incomparable Grammy-Award winning electric bassist/bass clarinetist/producer/composer Marcus Miller for Miller's own label, 3 Deuces. Han is a stellar member of Miller's band, has appeared on several of his albums, and continues to tour extensively with the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alex Goodman: Second Act

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Canadian guitarist/composer Alex Goodman has been living in New York City for five years. Second Act is his fifth album, but the first to employ a New York City based band, and all the music was composed there as well. After a solo bass introduction from Rick Rosato “Questions" opens the set with fast swing, the whole group in acoustic mode. Pianist Eden Ladin takes an extended solo before the leader takes over on guitar. “The First Break" includes an ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Big Star: The Best of Big Star

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The Best of Big Star might be the ideal introduction to the greatest 'never was but shoulda been' band of all time. Not nearly so extensive or lavishly packaged as Keep An Eye on the Sky (Rhino, 2009) or Third Complete (Omnivore, 2016), the quick succession of sixteen tracks, a half-dozen of which are rare single edits of album tracks, presents Big Star not only as a great band of players, but ingenious songwriters and recording artists willing to experiment ...