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Jazz Articles

ANATOMY OF A STANDARD

Here's That Rainy Day by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke

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I am honored to be authoring a new column for All About Jazz revolving around the question, “What makes a song a standard?." Surely there are as many answers to that rhetorical question as there are scholars having opinions about it. My charge, as I accept it, is to provide some analysis of chords, melody, lyrics and overall gestalt of recognized jazz standards. Over time, my deconstruction of these songs will hopefully lead to a greater understanding of some timeless ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steven Kirby: Illuminations

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Illuminations--guitarist Steven Kirby's third album, following Point Of Balance (Challenge Records, 1998) and North Lights (Challenge Records, 2003)--is both true to previous form and highly expansive. Kirby uses elements of the sonic palette(s) that helped to color his earlier work, referencing the probing lyricism of John Abercrombie and the straight-to-the-heart melodic qualities shot through in classic recordings from Pat Metheny with Lyle Mays, but he doesn't simply extend on what's come before. In the thirteen years since Kirby's last album, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Karl Van Deun & Ruben Machtelinckx: Shapes

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In spite of his young age, Belgian guitarist Ruben Machtelinckx has already traversed a wide spectrum of musical expressions, and yet, while the textures are different, his records share a certain lyrical sensibility and the quality of dwelling in the moment. On Shapes, Machtelinckx joins his former teacher Karl Van Deun to play an exquisite program of acoustic music, mostly penned by Van Deun. The opener is simply called “The Guitar" and is almost ...

REDISCOVERY

Mark Isham: Blue Sun

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Mark IshamBlue SunColumbia Records1995 Better-known, perhaps, for his work in the film arena as scorer for movies including 1986's The Hitcher, the 1992 reboot of Of Mice and Men and 1998's Blade, Mark Isham has, nevertheless, demonstrated his instrumental prowess as a trumpeter on albums including pianist Art Lande's Rubisa Patrol (ECM, 1976), singer/songwriter Van Morrison's Beautiful Vision (Warner Bros., 1982), David Sylvian's Brilliant Trees (Virgin, 1984), David Torn's Cloud About Mercury (ECM, 1987) and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Leila Bordreuil & Michael Foster: The Caustic Ballads

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Brooklyn based Cellist Leila Bordreuil and saxophonist Michael Foster explore the emotional boundaries of tonality on the otherworldly and daring Caustic Ballads. The thirteen improvised duets, with their disturbing and poetic titles are abstract in their conception, intimately delivered and deeply visceral in their impact.The hypnotic “Into the Peristyle of Love's Temple" for example conjures images of cavernous spaces with its ethereal and solemn opening. Bordreuil and Foster echo each other's prayer like phrases that transform into anguished ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bobby Kapp / Matthew Shipp: Cactus

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Drummer Bobby Kapp, free jazz spirit in New York in the mi-sixties, relocated to Mexico City, to the Artists' colony San Miguel de Allede. But he gets around, and on a return to New York he joined pianist Matthew Shipp to record a terrific set of duo improvisations called Cactus. Shipp, the better-known half of the team, plays with a vehemence that parallels his public persona--a prickly, chip-on-the-shoulder, in-your-face approach, a sort of Randy Weston meets Cecil Taylor ...

TAKE FIVE WITH...

Take Five with Jennifer Bellor

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About Jennifer Bellor: Las Vegas-based composer Jennifer Bellor blends contemporary jazz, classical, and popular styles. Her works have been performed by Washington National Opera, Seattle Women's Jazz Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Washington National Opera, Eastman New Jazz Ensemble, UNLV Jazz Ensemble, and many others in the United States and abroad. She earned a 2013 DownBeat Award for her composition “Midnight Swim" for big band in the original composition/orchestrated work category at the graduate college level. Her composition Noir ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Horace Silver: The United States of Mind – Revisited

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At what point did Blue Note Records jump the shark? Is there a single moment when Blue Note stopped being the world's greatest purveyor of jazz and instead became an irrelevant producer of schlock? Truth is, it was a long, slow slide. In the 1950s, Blue Note was the greatest source of hard bop. In the 1960s, it produced the best soul-jazz on earth. And then, one day in the 1970s--poof! It was all gone. Where did it ...


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