Articles by Andrew J. Sammut

ALBUM REVIEWS

Ashley Wilson: Paint The Sky

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Ashley Wilson's debut recording features the vocalist and songwriter singing eleven original tunes, incorporating a range of genres and mining a lot of her own experiences. “Once In A While" starts the album with a flirty tune about fighting and then making up, set to a rising and chromatically falling theme. Bitter chords amidst the country twang of “Fool" illustrate that unfaithfulness is never easy, and pointed lyrics about being in love for five years hint at a biographical element. ...

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Mark Vickness: Places

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Inspired by rock gods such as Jimi Hendrix and studying with the likes of Mel Powell, guitarist/composer Mark Vickness uses powerful technique and sophisticated harmony to explore texture and mood on “Prince William Sound." Comparisons with a body of water aren't cliche: a pensive six-note motif flows in gradually, surfaces over a subtle ground pulse, then ripples and surges into cool harmonics, country twangs, fat single-note phrases, thick orchestral chords, and even a miniature “bass" solo, before fading away into ...

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Buster Bailey: All About Memphis

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Buster Bailey's skill as both an improviser and section man made him a shoo-in for some of the best gigs in jazz history. Starting, from his teenage years, with W.C. Handy, steady employment under King Oliver, Fletcher Henderson, John Kirby and Louis Armstrong also left the clarinetist little time (perhaps need) to record as a leader. Fortunately jazz raconteur Stanley Dance saw fit to put just Bailey (and some of his original compositions) in front of a rhythm section on ...

How (Not) To Listen To Early Jazz

Read "How (Not) To Listen To Early Jazz" reviewed by Andrew J. Sammut

Jazz listeners may admit that early music got things to where they are now, similar to how the Model T made the Lamborghini possible. Most just prefer not to drive anything too old. For most listeners, early jazz remains an esoteric and even a strange experience. Perhaps it's all that monochromatic footage of tuxedoed fox trotters. Maybe it's those parades of straw-hatted, red suspendered and often white-haired Dixieland groups at amusement parks. It might be the kick ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Johnny Dunn: Cornet Blues

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In hindsight, it seems natural that trumpeter Louis Armstrong's arrival onto the New York jazz scene of the 1920s would put a lot of players out of work. Yet apparently not every New Yorker was waiting for some guy from New Orleans to show them how it's done. As Mark Berresford's informative liner notes explain, Johnny Dunn was one of the most popular and respected pre-Armstrong trumpeters, performing with W.C. Handy as well as blues singer Mamie ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Vince Giordano: New York, NY, August 14, 2012

Read "Vince Giordano: New York, NY, August 14, 2012" reviewed by Andrew J. Sammut

Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks Sofia's Restaurant New York, NY August 14, 2012 Vince Giordano receives well-deserved attention for the twenties and thirties repertoire he's brought to the radio on A Prairie Home Companion, films such as 2008's Revolutionary Road and 2004's The The Aviator, and most recently the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, for which Giordano and his band the Nighthawks received a Grammy. Coverage also mentions Giordano's home, full of records, ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Brian Patneaude: All Around Us

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An active part of the jazz scene in New York's Capital District, Brian Patneaude's fifth album shows off his originality and depth as a tenor saxophonist and composer. The six original compositions and two covers on All Around Us were “inspired by people, places and events" in Patneaude's life, adding a personal gravity to the assured musicianship on display.Listing Michael Brecker, David Sanborn and Hank Mobley among his influences, Patneaude plays with an attractively big, warm tone, more ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Gabriel Vicens: Point in Time

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Gabriel Vicens brings together simpatico colleagues from the scene in his native Puerto Rico and beyond to explore twelve of his works on the guitarist and composer's debut, Point in Time. Vicens' compositions explore quirky, catchy heads ("Point in Time," “Beautiful Place"), plenty of vamps ("La Diferencia," “Frame of Mind" and “El Camino") and medium tempo grooves blending straight-ahead and Latin rhythms ("El Comienzo," “Cuadro"). He also includes brief, abstract introductions to several tunes by one to two players.

INTERVIEWS

Terell Stafford: Trial and Inspiration

Read "Terell Stafford: Trial and Inspiration" reviewed by Andrew J. Sammut

Terell Stafford is as likely to credit his influences as he is to impress his listeners. Coming to jazz comparatively later than many players, and even with his busy schedule as a sideman, leader and educator, he remains devoted to exploring the music's roots, while expressing a relentless desire to learn more. Stafford first started playing trumpet at age thirteen, initially studying the classical repertoire and pursuing a music education degree at the University of Maryland. After ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Norm Zocher: Cambridge, MA, December 6, 2011

Read "Norm Zocher: Cambridge, MA, December 6, 2011" reviewed by Andrew J. Sammut

Norm Zocher Outpost 186 Cambridge, MA December 6, 2011 Norm Zocher is well known for his guitar work on Boston's forward-thinking jazz scene, as well as gigs with Maria Schneider, Steve Lacy, Bob Brookmeyer, Esperanza Spalding and local mainstay the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra, all between teaching at Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory. On December 6 at Outpost 186, Zocher made his hometown debut on the unusual jazz double ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

New World Jazz Composers Octet: Breaking News

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The New World Jazz Composers Octet thrives on the old school idea of jazz composition as conduit to great jazz performance, and its third album, Breaking News, puts theory to practice from the outset with Matthew Nicholl's “Poco Picasso." The jutting melodic angles and tightly orchestrated front line arrest on their own merits, while also spurring pianist Tim Ray into a well-constructed, swinging improvisation. The composers featured on Breaking News also avoid the labyrinthine chord progressions and ...

INTERVIEWS

Tom Everett: Jazz at Harvard

Read "Tom Everett: Jazz at Harvard" reviewed by Andrew J. Sammut

It's no accident that forty years of jazz at Harvard coincides with forty years of Tom Everett at the esteemed university. Everett founded Harvard University's first student jazz band, taught its first jazz history course and welcomed the campus' first visiting jazz artist. He now leads two jazz bands at the prestigious university, continues to teach jazz history courses and welcomes a different visiting jazz artist each year, working with and commissioning works from Anthony Braxton, Dave Brubeck, Dizzy Gillespie, ...


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