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Various Artists: Blues Kings of Baton Rouge

Read "Blues Kings of Baton Rouge" reviewed by Jakob Baekgaard

Any musical genre gets its own regional twist, and this is especially the case with the blues. Just think of Chicago blues, Memphis blues and Detroit blues. However, a regional variant that has not been examined sufficiently is the blues of Baton Rouge. This fault is corrected by Blues Kings of Baton Rouge, a 2CD-set curated by blues expert Martin Hawkins, released on Bear Family. The set follows two other major Baton Rouge projects by Hawkins, the definitive ...

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Various Artists: The Bakersfield Sound

Read "The Bakersfield Sound" reviewed by Jakob Baekgaard

Think of country music and the city that immediately springs to mind is Nashville, but for a while Bakersfield became a capitol of country music in its own right, and its importance as the originator of the Bakersfield sound is examined in a massive box set from Bear Family Records, The Bakersfield Sound: Country Music Capital of the West 1940-1974, containing 10 CDs and a 224-page book written by Scott B. Bomar with a foreword by Chris Shiflett of the ...

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Woodstock—Back to the Garden: 50th Anniversary Experience

Read "Woodstock—Back to the Garden: 50th Anniversary Experience" reviewed by John Kelman

First things first. For all but the most committed of fans, knowledge of what transpired, how it transpired and when it transpired at the now-legendary 1969 Woodstock Music & Arts Fair has, despite a variety of initial, 25th and 40th Anniversary audio and video releases, been severely limited. As engaging, entertaining and well-constructed as these various snapshots have been of the event dubbed “Three Days of Peace and Music," the variety of releases to date have ranged from absolute truth ...

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Various Artists: Sunny Side Up

Read "Sunny Side Up" reviewed by Chris May

London DJ Gilles Peterson's worldwide touring produces some singular jazz and near-jazz experiences, the best of which he documents on his Brownswood Recordings label. Modern Cuban music figures prominently in the catalogue, and there have been several Japanese jazz albums, most memorably the Toshio Matsuura Group's Loveplaydance: 8 Scenes From The Floor (Brownswood, 2018). The label has released another left-field contender with Sunny Side Up, which showcases near-jazz bands from Melbourne, Australia, where there is, we learn, a thriving underground ...

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Various Artists: La Casa Murada MoonJune Sessions, Volume 1

Read "La Casa Murada MoonJune Sessions, Volume 1" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

Magic seems to happen routinely at Spain's La Casa Murada Residential Recording Studio, a converted 12th century farmhouse, at least during the MoonJune Records recording sessions. For listeners who have not been following the label's releases, this generous 80-minute sampler offers a delightful overview. For those who have, it includes one track released in advance of Serbian guitarist Dusan Jevtovic's forthcoming 2019 album If You See Me. The MoonJune musical family frequently operates as a kind of repertory ...

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Various Artists: Jazz Fest: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Read "Jazz Fest: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival" reviewed by Jakob Baekgaard

On the surface, some jazz festivals look a lot like each other, with the same established names travelling around the globe. This is globalization at its worst, meaning we can travel endless miles to hear the same musicians we could have heard in our own backyard. However, a good jazz festival is also a celebration of local musical culture. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is the perfect example of this. But make no mistake, like every other festival, ...

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Various Artists: Whiskey Juliet Foxtrot

Read "Whiskey Juliet Foxtrot" reviewed by Luke Seabright

Much like the highly-regarded We Out Here (Brownswood Recordings, 2018), Whiskey Juliet Foxtrot is all about showcasing some exciting new talent in jazz. However, there is perhaps an extra lesson to be learned from Byrd Out's new compilation album; we would be wrong to assume that the UK's flourishing scene is solely concentrated in jny:London. There is no denying that the capital is the epicentre of it all. The range of music coming out of there and the ...

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Various Artists: The Social Power of Music

Read "The Social Power of Music" reviewed by Jakob Baekgaard

It could be argued that music has been around for as long as humans have walked on Earth. When we are born, one of the first things we do is cry and scream, and to calm babies down, lullabies are sung. As we grow up, music becomes the soundtrack for joy and mourning; the rites of passage in life are marked by wedding songs and funeral blues. We use music as a guiding light and a way to express what ...

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Various Artists: Nicola Conte presents Cosmic Forest: The Spiritual Sounds of MPS

Read "Nicola Conte presents Cosmic Forest: The Spiritual Sounds of MPS" reviewed by Chris M. Slawecki

A labor of love, Cosmic Forest was compiled by Italian musician, producer and DJ Nicola Conte to both revisit and present to a new audience Conte's favorite “spiritual jazz" recordings from MPS Records' 1965--'75 catalog. Eight of these thirteen pieces came from albums released as part of the MPS label's mid-1970s “Jazz Meets the World" series masterminded by jazz activist and label partner Joachim-Ernst Berendt. Cosmic Forest can take you as deeply in or as far as you ...

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Various Artists: Spiritual Jazz 9: Blue Notes Parts 1 & 2

Read "Spiritual Jazz 9: Blue Notes Parts 1 & 2" reviewed by Chris May

The ninth volume in Jazzman's Spiritual Jazz series is a 2 x CD (and 2 x double LP) compilation from the Blue Note catalogue. Just over half the material was recorded between 1964 and 1966, the final years during which the label was steered by Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff and when the go-to engineer was still Rudy Van Gelder. Most of the remaining tracks are from 1968 and 1969. It has all been previously released. Spiritual ...

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Various Artists: MPS: 50 Years

Read "MPS: 50 Years" reviewed by Chris M. Slawecki

In 2018, MPS--Musik Produktion Schwarzwald--Records, Germany's first jazz label, celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. Pianist Oscar Peterson recorded the first release for MPS after his contract with Verve expired. Its catalog expanded to feature George Duke, Red Garland, Wolfgang Dauner, Horst Jankowski, George Shearing, Monty Alexander and many other pianists. Violin became the label's second most featured instrument through releases by established masters such as Don “Sugarcane" Harris and Stéphane Grappelli, and emerging ones such as Didier Lockwood and Jean-Luc Ponty. ...

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Various Artists: The Sea at the End of Her String

Read "The Sea at the End of Her String" reviewed by Phil Barnes

Genre is increasingly a problem in our modern musical world--it is all pervasive yet meaningless at the same time. If the internet only gives us what we search for, then a classification that is predicated on a formulaic 'if you like that then you'll love this" algorithm is never going to be good enough. Music as an art form is not specific, it implies emotion and feeling through the notes, tones and chords rather than itemising or cataloguing what a ...


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