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Articles by Dan Bilawsky

ALBUM REVIEWS

Alfredo Rodriguez/Pedrito Martinez: Duologue

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When running down the names of notable and somewhat recent Cuban exports in the jazz realm, Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez both rank at the top of the list. Rodriguez, a conservatory trained pianist with a strong familial connection to the aural arts, came under the wing of the great Quincy Jones back in 2006. He made his way to the United States three years later and began taking the world by storm when he delivered his stunning debut--Sounds Of ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Marco Pignataro: Almas Antiguas

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Trying to place the music of saxophonist Marco Pignataro squarely in a single space, musical or otherwise, is a fruitless endeavor. His roots span oceans, his sound draws on myriad sources, and his open approach to influence and association(s) catapults him to another realm entirely. Yet all roads paved by heart and art in tandem tend to lead back to the Mediterranean for this man of passion and purpose. It's in that region, growing in the soil of Pignataro's fatherland, ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Michael Kocour: East Of The Sun

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The ease of expression with which pianist Michael Kocour unspools standards tends to belie the greatness of his playing. With extreme comfort and control he lays out one beautiful performance after another, all the while presenting a fine balance between technical accomplishment and creative bent. East Of The Sun--the sixth leader (or co-leader) date from Kocour, and the third to offer a detailed look at his solo piano work--largely focuses on songs from the '20s and '30s. ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Peter Nelson: Ash, Dust, and the Chalkboard Cinema

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"In sickness and in health" is a phrase that evokes thoughts of wedding vows in most minds. But in a broader sense, it can be applicable to performing artists and their relationship--marital commitment, if you will--to their instruments and work. If anybody has lived and absorbed that truth, it's trombonist Peter Nelson. After taking flight from his home state of Michigan in 2013, Nelson took to the New York scene and began to pave his way in ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Mauricio Pessoa: Without You

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There's an urbane aura surrounding the music of Mauricio Pessoa. From the mournful string strains that introduce a dewy-eyed “Saudade I" on through to the high society swing of the “Without You" closer, his writing proves evocative both in drawing attention to times past and highlighting the influence of past masters--Moacir Santos, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Lindolpho Gaya, and Egberto Gismonti, to mention a few. However, it need be noted that, despite those backward glances and nods, his compositions aren't mired ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Alyn Cosker: KPF

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The music of Alyn Cosker--the resident drummer of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra--is neither here nor there. While his work firmly rests in the miles-wide jazz camp, its synthesis of disparate styles and identities offers it shielding from easy labels within. Take “Serenity," the album's lead-off track, for example. Augmenting an electrified quintet with mandolin, accordion, fiddle, and alto saxophone, Cosker creates a powerful and uncategorizable blend that sits, swirls, storms, and dances around a stabilizing piano beacon. It's a ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Terell Stafford/Dick Oatts/Bruce Barth/Tim Warfield/David Wong/Byron Landham: Family Feeling

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It's not uncommon for a familial air to surround a band or a recording session. The bonds forged through the music, after all, play up trust and sympathies to a high degree. But some albums even go a step beyond that norm in their connective magnetism, and this is most certainly one of them. Family Feeling is more than a simple gathering of high-caliber peers; it's a date driven by the desire to impart aural wisdom and ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Bob Dorough Trio featuring Michael Hornstein: But For Now

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When But For Now first landed in 2015, it was a reminder of the good-natured brilliance behind the artistry of one of America's greatest living treasures. But with Bob Dorough's passing in April of 2018, the album's second coming plays more like a parting gift. Recorded in 2014, when Dorough was already a spry nonagenarian, this drummer-less trio date emphasizes his craggy cool. Right from the start, on an attractive “Baltimore Oriole," he matches those beloved pitted ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Leaps & Sounds: 12 Contemporary Etudes for Jazz Saxophone

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Leaps & Sounds: 12 Contemporary Etudes For Jazz Saxophone by Adam Larson17 Pages ISBN: #978-1724613059 Self Published 2018 The educational market is saturated with printed materials that regurgitate the same concepts with slight-to-little-to-no variation, playing--or preying, perhaps--on everything from foundational needs to grasps at virtuosity. Truly novel concepts are, sadly, few and far between, but sometimes a book comes along that finds new angles and conceptual footholds. Enter Adam Larson's Leaps & ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Harry Vetro: Harry Vetro's Northern Ranger

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Through this debut release, Canadian drummer Harry Vetro taps into his homeland to present a series of wayfaring wonders. It's both a testament to his wandering spirit and an exploration of the Great White North's virtues as measured in nature and man. As 2017 marked the sesquicentennial celebration of Canada's confederation, Vetro saw fit to celebrate the moment by setting off on a journey across the country's vast lands. His travels took him to the six indigenous ...

YEAR IN REVIEW

Dan Bilawsky's Best Releases of 2018

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Every little bit of the year 2018 will soon take form as memory--first recent, then distant--but the fine music gifted to us in those twelve months will be forever present, living on in ears, hearts and minds. I had the pleasure of hearing north of 400 albums this past year, and I had the privilege of reviewing more than 75 of those for All About Jazz. These are the bunch from that review list that left the strongest impression. (Note: ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Wolfgang Lackerschmid: Lake Geneva

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Sometimes, scenery just begets beautiful music. In the summer of 1995, vibraphonist Wolfgang Lackerschmid found himself in an idyllic setting on the shores of Lake Geneva. He was there with guitarist Chuck Loeb, bassist John Lee, and drummer-percussionist Marilyn Mazur--a super band of sorts that was assembled for a one-off recording session--and that foursome couldn't have asked for a better working situation. Put up in style for a week, the quartet enjoyed spending time on the lake, indulging in quality ...