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ALBUM REVIEWS

Wozzeck: Act III: Comics

Read "Act III: Comics" reviewed by Jerry D'Souza

Saxophonist Ilia Belorukov and bass guitarist Mikhail Ershov made a good move when they invited four other musicians to collaborate on 47 semi-improvised parts of what they call “sound games." The use of instruments had to be unusual, and the whole venture lasted 23 minutes.Improvisation can be fun and imaginative if the musicians key into each other as they do here on Act III: Comics, breathing life into each short vignette. Everyone has individual space to set up ...

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Tim Langedijk Trio: November

Read "November" reviewed by Jerry D'Souza

Guitarist Tim Langedijk formed his first trio in 2006, recording two CDs with bassist Udo Pannekeet and drummer Haye Jellema: 2008's Testimonials (2008) and Inside The House (2010), both on The Sands Records label. Hans van Oosterhout replaces Jellema on November, which also features the exciting pianist Jasper van 't Hof. Langedijk's contemporary compositions not only have a strong melodic sensibility; they also showcase his harmonic concepts. The haunting “Pathway" is a prime example of his craft, the ...

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Katie Guthorn: Why Not Smile?

Read "Why Not Smile?" reviewed by Edward Blanco

San Francisco-based actress, educator and singer Katie Guthorn is primarily known for her work in pop, R&B, Motown and even country music, having performed with groups such as the Soul Delights and the Randy Craig Trip. Though jazz has been part of her repertoire in the past, it has never truly been her main dish or passion. Jazz, however, is exactly what Why Not Smile? is all about, and the singer that does a superlative job voicing the music of ...

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Sarah Elgeti Quintet: Into The Open

Read "Into The Open" reviewed by Edward Blanco

From the Danish Radio (DR) Big band--directed by such greats as Thad Jones, Bob Brookmeyer and Jim McNeely--to the jazz environment of Copenhagen's Café Montmarte, Denmark has been at the forefront in nurturing and producing some of the finest jazz musicians in Europe and, indeed, the world. Saxophonist/flautist Sarah Elgeti is the latest Danish wonder to emerge on the international stage, astounding critics with Into the Open, by her all-Danish quintet. Elgeti wields her sax like a veteran journeyman, pens ...

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Jurgen Hagenlocher: Leap In The Dark

Read "Leap In The Dark" reviewed by Edward Blanco

German-born saxophonist Jürgen Hagenlocher's third album as a leader, Leap In The Dark, is an interestingly designed mix of traditional and modern-styled jazz--an interesting walk through a selection of eight sophisticated, airy and remarkably accessible original compositions. Recording in New York, Hagenlocher formed a new quintet for this album, retaining trumpet luminary Alex Sipiagin from his previous disc, and putting him alongside veteran pianist David Kikoski, bassist extraordinaire Boris Kozlov and drummer Nate Smith.The saxophonist--who has recorded as ...

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Mike Longo Trio +2: To My Surprise

Read "To My Surprise" reviewed by Jack Bowers

When is a trio not a trio? Well, when it's the Mike Longo Trio +2, which actually makes it a quintet. Such is the case on six of the dozen tracks on Longo's new CD, To My Surprise, which showcases not only the versatile pianist's core group (bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Lewis Nash), but also the impressive talents of trumpeter Jimmy Owens and tenor saxophonist Lance Bryant.What is apparent from the outset is that everyone is having ...

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Lucid: So Oder So

Read "So Oder So" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Lydia Schiller, Sevi Krieger and Florian Leuschner met not long ago as members of one of Germany's several superb youth jazz orchestras (yes, that is a good idea; a pity it hasn't surfaced on this side of the Atlantic) and decided to form a working trio built around Schiller's lucid vocal talents, which include flawless diction, unwavering pitch, and an uncommon ability to scat and swing. Since the first three tunes on So Oder So are sung in German, it ...

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New World Beat: After Carnival

Read "After Carnival" reviewed by Edward Blanco

The music of Brazil, a slice of the smooth style, a heavy dose of world rhythms and a pinch of jazz fusion provide the ingredients for the exotic and refreshing new sound captured on After Carnival, the brilliant debut from the Miami-based New World Beat. Led by vibraphonist Richard Sprince, a veteran of world music and an explorer of the Spanish Flamenco and African rhythms he has garnered over his years spent touring Europe and the globe, this group of ...

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Remi Alvarez: Live at Vision Festival

Read "Live at Vision Festival" reviewed by Jerry D'Souza

The Vision Festival is the premier showcase for art, dance and experimental music. Some of the finest exponents of avant-garde and free jazz perform on its stage. The atmosphere is electrifying and vibrant as it captures the expanse of the imaginations of the musicians. The unseen chord becomes a pertinent presence and the harbinger of a whole new realm of ideas.Saxophonist Remi Alvarez, who first performed at the festival in 2006, finds a compact umbrella under experimental music. ...

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Barrel: Gratuitous Abuse

Read "Gratuitous Abuse" reviewed by Raul d'Gama Rose

How far can the primary family of strings be pushed? Does humor--a question once asked by Frank Zappa--still belong in music? From time to time these questions might be answered in a remarkable performance or two, but as creativity in music falters for lack of true industry support, it is not often that musicians can truly express themselves with a mixture of tonality and atonality, in song and through noise. However, there are some musicians who inhabit the very outer ...

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Janice Finlay: Anywhere But Here

Read "Anywhere But Here" reviewed by Edward Blanco

Saxophonist Janice Finlay has been voted “top sax" by the jazz fans of Winnipeg, Canada for three consecutive years. An educator by profession at the Manitoba Conservatory of Music & Arts, Finlay is a first-call musician who leads several groups and is a long-time member of the Ron Paley Big Band. A stalwart of the Winnipeg jazz scene, she also performs with the city's Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Orchestra. Leading a core quintet of Canadian-based players including award-winning bassist Jodi ...

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Hillmen: The Whiskey Mountain Sessions

Read "The Whiskey Mountain Sessions" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

The group name and album title might imply semblances of a bluegrass jam-session, but Hillmen's The Whiskey Mountain Sessions is, in fact, an improvised jazz-rock set tinted with psychedelics, featuring keyboardist Gayle Ellett and guitarist Mike Murray, of the fabled Southern California progressive rock band Djam Karet. It's an electro-organic schematic sans instrumental overlays or audio compression that effectively captures the live studio performance aesthetic. In a loose sense, the music plots along like a pulsating dreamscape, formed ...