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Articles by Chris Mosey

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lars Jansson: Just This

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Swedish pianist/composer Lars Jansson is a Zen Buddhist, concerned primarily with being in the moment. There can be difficulties--"To experience and accept all that happens in our lives is no easy matter," says Jansson. “It takes practice and an open mind (beginner's mind) to ignore expectations and preconceived attitudes and completely immerse oneself in the present as it unfolds." There are two songs on Just This that deal with this problem: the title track and “No Purpose." ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Connie Han: Crime Zone

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Connie Han, dressed in skin-tight leather, tosses back her long and lustrous black hair, then walks like a prowling cat to the piano. She sits down, doesn't smile, looks darkly at the keyboard. She pauses then starts playing a percussive riff. Lights! The band emerges from the shadows and falls in behind her. Han, aged 22, from Los Angeles, has been playing piano and dreaming of this moment since she was five years old. “Another Kind of ...

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LaVon Hardison: There Will Be Trouble

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LaVon Hardison, a vocalist originally from Boston, with roots in gospel, specializes in cover versions. Which is to say that she takes old pop songs and gives them new meaning... sometimes a darn sight more than they deserve. Other times--as Tom Lehrer once put it--she kicks them when they're down. The Rodgers and Hart number “My Funny Valentine," which opens proceedings, was written for the long forgotten 1937 musical “Babes In Arms." It went on to become a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nobuki Takamen: The Nobuki Takamen Trio

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Nobuki Takamen is, in all probability, the best jazz guitarist Japan has ever produced. Nowadays he lives in New Jersey but tours his homeland regularly. His playing is marked by good taste and sensitivity. He is a highly inventive guitarist, his runs and progressions never quite going where you expect them to go but always making perfect sense. He doesn't overburden his playing with technique, staying accessible to a wide range of listeners. He names his influences ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Carol Liebowitz/Birgitta Frick: Malita-Malika

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Carol Liebowitz is a pianist based in New York City. Birgitta Flick lives in Berlin and plays tenor sax. They met in 2010 at a jazz club in Berlin and, ever since, have played together now and again. Their music is free, not particularly melodic and occasionally downright difficult to listen to. “Whether it is a spontaneous free improvisation or a standard that dates back nearly a century--to us it's all one," they boldly proclaim in the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Christian Sands: Facing Dragons

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Christian Sands is already being hailed as the greatest jazz pianist of his generation. The question now is will he follow in the footsteps of piano virtuosos like Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson and Errol Garner and concentrate on keyboard fireworks? Or will he choose other outlets for his immense talent, DownBeat magazine seemingly paving the way for this by lauding him as “an imaginative composer" and “clever arranger." Sands, born on May 22 1989, grew up in ...

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Cecile McLorin Salvant: The Window

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Cécile McLorin Salvant has one of the most powerful voices in jazz. Which doesn't make her always easy to listen to. Sometimes she instills new meaning to an old lyric, other times she tries too hard and goes over the top. Still, at least she tries. She comes from Miami, daughter of a Haitian father and a French mother. Aware of the power of her voice from an early age, she trained in classical music, but then ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yellowjackets: Raising Our Voice

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Named after a rather unpleasant insect, founded by a guitar superstar to back him but then dropped, the Los Angeles-based Yellowjackets--despite it all--continue to forge ahead. There's something of the MJQ about them: they dress well (if casually) and play a brand of jazz that is discreet and refined, sometimes almost to the point of becoming background music. Of the musicians picked as a backing group by Robben Ford in 1977, only Russell Ferrante (keyboards) remains. Now ...

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Morten Haxholm: Vestigium

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Other nationalities find the double bass a cumbersome instrument. But, perhaps because they are, in the main, tall, healthy and strong and thus can handle it with relative ease, Danes love it. Since its introduction by the great native American bassist Oscar Pettiford in the late 1950s, it has come to play a major role on the local scene. The thing is Danes take their jazz seriously. There is now a Rhythmical Music Conservatory, or university of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Raul Midon: If You Really Want

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Raul Midon plays guitar and sings like Paul Simon. Born blind in New Mexico in 1966, The New York Times once called him “a one-man band who turns a guitar into an orchestra and his voice into a chorus." He was going somewhere once upon a time. Now he's back, still going somewhere. One of his songs is called “Everyone Deserves A Second Chance." Midon probably does. He sings well, he plays well and he writes good ...