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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Earl MacDonald: Open Borders

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Not many piano led ensembles finds the pianist laying as far back in the musical dialogue as Earl MacDonald, who doesn't come anywhere near an extended solo until “Miles Apart" and Percy Mayfield's Ray Charles blow- out “Hit The Road Jack" (tracks five and six respectively). But that's just fine given that MacDonald has charted the conversations and man oh man, do these arrangements crackle with spirit.From the high-flying “Dig In Buddy" to the exhilarating Latin flavors “Dolphy ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Earl MacDonald: Open Borders

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Politicians might do well to take a few pointers from pianist-arranger Earl MacDonald. As this fine album attests to, it's far better to build bridges than walls, and far more productive to open borders and dialogue than close hearts, minds, and doors. While MacDonald didn't initially set out to make a political statement with this recording, both the events of the day and the make-up of the marvelously tight dectet that brings this music to life got ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Donny McCaslin At Belfast International Arts Festival 2017

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Donny McCaslin Limelight Belfast International Arts Festival jny:Belfast, N. Ireland October 25, 2017 “Are you here because of Bowie or for jazz?" a woman asked those around her in the queue for Donny McCaslin's gig--part of the Belfast International Arts Festival. The answer, by and large, was both. McCaslin's current group will likely always be remembered--and no doubt billed for some time to come--as David Bowie's backing band on Black Star ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

William Evans/Donat Fisch/Banz Oester/Jorge Rossy/Andy Scherrer: Schlitten

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The Swiss CD release, Schlitten, tips a hat to the undersung record producer, Don Schlitten. The quintet doing the hat-tipping is mostly Swiss musicians. Drummer Jorge Rossy, formerly of the Brad Mehldau Trio, is Spanish-born. Schlitten got his start working the music business with several of the small but prestigious record companies--Muse and Prestige, among others--before he created his own label with Xanadu Records. His approach was straightforward--bring the intuitive, top-level musicians into the studio and let them ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marco von Orelli - Max E. Keller - Sheldon Suter: Blow, Strike & Touch

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The members of this experimental Swiss trio have been significant contributors to the avant-garde, or perhaps outside realm of European jazz circles for many years. But this album is bundled with perpetual reconstruction efforts, drifting sequences and mini-themes that are sometimes meditative in scope amid several transient pieces that intersect the full-length works. Nonetheless, the musicians craft an intimate portraiture framed on textural shadings, trumpeter Marco von Orelli's multiphonics and segments where pianist Max E. Keller summons darkness via asymmetrical ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chicago / London Underground: A Night Walking Through Mirrors

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Rob Mazurek is a remarkable musician, with a rare breadth and depth of expression. Off-hand, the only artist I can think of who possesses a similar emotional profile is Wadada Leo Smith. Like Smith, Mazurek can sear your ears and nerves one minute and soothe your soul the next, without any sense of strain or contrivance in the transition. This capacity was displayed in an especially emotional way with his 2014 release Return the Tides: Ascension Suite and Holy Ghost ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Donald Fagen and The Nighflyers at Hard Rock Live Cleveland

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Donald Fagen and The Nightflyers Hard Rock Live at the Rocksino Cleveland, Ohio August 25, 2017 Fans of Steely Dan and Donald Fagen residing in Northeast Ohio have been fortunate over the past decade or more to see their locale be a regular stop on the live tour schedule. In addition to The Dan's regular summer excursions stopping in the Cleveland area, Fagen led a brief stint in 2006 supporting his third solo album, Morph ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Raymond MacDonald & Graeme Wilson: A Cast of Thousands

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Raymond MacDonald and Graeme Wilson are two of the leading figures in the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra. The music on Cast Of Thousands may be freely improvised but the emphasis here seems very much upon structure and form. One suspects that MacDonald and Wilson's lengthy experience playing together allows each man to trust the other and that it is this that gives A Cast Of Thousands its sense of completeness and coherence. Mutual awareness and communication are key to the record's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lol Coxhill & Raymond MacDonald: Morphometry

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Glorious, custard-coloured vinyl, a charming and witty woodcut by artist Ian Barrett (Syd's nephew) on the cover and ten duos featuring saxophonists Lol Coxhill and Raymond MacDonald--what's not to like? My first sightings/hearings of the legend that was Lol took place in my mid-teens. Crossing Hungerford Bridge en route to the South Bank for a concert or else to Waterloo Station to get the last train home, there was Lol improvising to the sound of trains or following his own ...


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