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Jazz Articles | Blog

INTERVIEWS

Clarence Becton: Straight Ahead Into Freedom

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Clarence Becton is a musicians' musician--meaning, someone well-known in musician circles. He belongs to the generation of American jazz heroes who grew up under economically and socially difficult circumstances, and for that very reason, succeeded in gaining a comprehensive education, emancipating himself, and embodying the history of jazz music by directly learning from and working with greats of almost every stylistic era--ragtime, swing, bebop, post-bop, and avant-garde. Born in 1933, he developed a strong musical interest as a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Le Tout-Puissant Orchestre Poly-Rythmo: Madjafalao

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Le Tout-Puissant Orchestre Poly-Rythmo is a difficult ensemble to follow. For one thing, they have functioned under the names Poly Rythmo de Cotonou, TP Orchestre Poly-Rythmo and L'International Poly-Rythmo among others. Add to that, a frequently shifting line up, a series of serious misadventures, a long period of dormancy, and their lack of familiarity outside of Benin (in West Africa) is understandable. Saxophonist Mélomé Clément founded the group in 1968 and they went on to substantial success in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mads Tolling and the Mads Men: Playing the 60s

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From the first arco tones, something sounds very familiar, yet hard to identify. The tone in question is big and full, dry, but not too much so. Were this tone a libation, it would be an Old Fashion. Sleek and commanding, yes, this makes me think of Svend Asmussen. This should be no surprise both wunderkind Mads Tolling and Asmussen are Danes with solid technical ability on the violin and a prodigious knowledge of the jazz songbook. Assmussen has just ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David James's GPS: Billionaire Blues

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A community of independent-minded creative musicians persists in Northern California in spite of skyrocketing rents, the collapse of the Fillmore Jazz District, and the flight of fellow artists to points south (L.A.), and East (New York, Europe). Most of the new jazz music written and performed in the Bay Area is not commercially recorded or marketed to the broader American jazz audience. The responsibility to document their work rests with the musicians themselves. David James's GPS--Billionaire Blues, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Matthew Shipp Trio: Piano Song

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It's difficult to encapsulate pianist Matthew Shipp's inimitable musical vision and approach exclusively with words. The elusiveness of his aesthetic stems from its malleability: Shipp retains his unwavering objective of unfettered expression, yet never fully eschews tradition, yielding an unrivaled brand of stirring music. A consummate innovator, Shipp's singular musical vocabulary has matured and diversified over decades of enterprising music, spanning a multitude of genres and musical ensembles. 2016 was a particularly fruitful year for Shipp, with releases ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Three Sounds: Groovin' Hard: Live At The Penthouse 1964-1968

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The old tapes hide in the archives, deep in the dark corners of record company closets, and even the occasional back yard tool shed--Hal Schaefer's How Do You Like this Piano Playing (Summit Records, 2009). Finding and bringing these lost treasures to the listening public seems to have turned into an industry of its own. And praise be the effort. The year 2016 alone saw the releases of newly discovered gems by pianists Bill Evans, with Some Other Time, (Resonance ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lorenzo de Finti Quartet: We Live Here

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After some time immersed in the world of electric jazz, Lorenzo de Finti decided it was time to return to the piano and base his next endeavor in warm acoustic tones, and the result is a beautifully cozy experience. The title looks like an obvious Pat Metheny homage which might suggest a feel of Americana, but the pianist's first Losen Records outing mostly shows a meditative chamber vibe instead and the phrase simply refers to being fully present in the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo: Peace

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The profusion of settings in which multi-instrumentalist/composer Satoko Fujii works is something of a phenomenon. The extent to which she brings something unique to each of those situations is even more astounding. In her husband Natsuki Tamura's Gato Libre quartet, Fujii typically plays the accordion to interpret the trumpeter's more lyrical and folkloric compositions. The pair has also recorded frequently as a piano/trumpet duo, often pushing the boundaries of modern improvisation. But it is in Fujii's orchestras--New York, Berlin and, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jay Thomas / Gary Smulyan: Lowdown Hoedown

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Sometimes the most joyous and satisfying things in life occur in the light of pure happenstance. Such was the case when New York based baritone saxophone master Gary Smulyan ventured west in the 90's to perform and teach at the Jazz Port Townsend Festival in Washington state, in those days directed by veteran saxman, Bud Shank. There he met an unusually remarkable and versatile musician, Jay Thomas, a jny: Seattle native and resident, and a friendship was forged that at ...


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