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Articles by Dan Bilawsky

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

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 ...

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The Mike Rossi Project: Journey

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The music of Mike Rossi, a multi-reedist who serves as Professor in Jazz and Woodwinds at the University of Cape Town's South African College of Music, is bolstered by tradition. But it isn't built on purist sentiments. Instead, it reflects all that he's seen, heard, learned and/or taught during his decades-long love affair with the music. And with the mutable Mike Rossi Project cutting this way and that across a vast expanse, Journey most certainly speaks to its maker's multi-faceted ...

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Marshall Gilkes & The WDR Big Band: Always Forward

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Ever onward for Marshall Gilkes. After snagging a Grammy nomination for Köln (Alternate Side Records, 2016)--a collaborative venture with the WDR Big Band (of which he was a member from early 2010 to the close of 2013) and one of the standout large ensemble releases of recent years--this sought-after trombonist-composer could have easily retreated to smaller scenarios and sideman work. But the very nature of his being as a musician--the urge to keep forging ahead--brought him back to the big ...

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Kenny Werner: The Space

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Need can be the greatest enemy of the improvising artist, as the hunger to prove oneself, the self-inflicted imperative demanding the addressing of a naked canvas, and a deep-seated desire to create all tend to have a stunting effect, engendering the exact opposite result of what it means to truly live in the moment. Only with an embrace of the space, a true release from conscious decision-making, can an artist paint without caution and explore to the fullest. Pianist Kenny ...

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Jay Lawrence: Sonic Paragon

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Sonic Paragon is a satisfying set grounded in the idea of broad appeal. Drummer Jay Lawrence is no purist, and he's certainly not stubbornly set on a single course, yet he's wholly cognizant of the fact that music is both for the makers and the takers. And with an understanding of that need for balance and some help from a real dream band, he creates a program that basically works for both sides of the fence. Opening ...

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Charlie Rhyner: The First Second

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An artist's intentions are often cemented within the first second of a journey, but a vision can only be developed and measured in the music's passing time. For Westchester-based guitarist Charlie Rhyner, those initial aims often present with a penetrative purpose and a strong understanding of the leverage that a groove, be it solid or morphing, can hold over a given song's success. As his compositions develop, those first impressions prove true while a sense of warmth, a taste of ...

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Joe Locke: Subtle Disguise

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Have we been dealing with two different Joe Lockes for all these years? To some, the vibraphonist presents as a technically adept and intellectually curious seeker, constantly pushing through to new levels of possibility and commitment with his music. But for others, Locke is a conduit to understanding the human condition. This is a dichotomy that obviously speaks to vantage points and perspectives, with neither understanding ringing false. And while the existence of said split isn't at all surprising when ...

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Sasha Mashin: Outsidethebox

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Drummer Sasha Mashin makes clear that he's the real deal within the first fifty seconds of this date. Opening “Sipiagin's Mood," the lead-off track on his debut release, with a solo drum introduction, Mashin immediately stakes his claim. Chops, of course, don't always equate to true artistry or position, but in this case technique and taste shine right through together. As this lengthy number progresses, there's much to admire, including the vocal gymnastics of Hiske Oosterwijk, the spirit of alto ...

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Samuel Martinelli: Crossing Paths

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Crossing Paths, the debut from New York-based Brazilian drummer Samuel Martinelli, is a quartet date rich in rhythmic verve. Martinelli provides strong originals, puts his own stamp on a classic or two, adds hearty support, and delivers with grace while his seasoned colleagues--trumpeter Claudio Roditi, bassist Marcus McLaurine, and pianist Tomoko Ohno--magnify his intentions and find deeper meaning in the notes and tones of the project. Right from the start Martinelli indicates a fondness for gear-shifting constructs. ...

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Kind Folk: Why Not

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Back in 2014, trumpeter John Raymond, alto saxophonist Alex LoRe, bassist Noam Wiesenberg, and drummer Colin Stranahan gathered in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn to test out their chemistry and let the music flow. Four years later, after some more sporadic get-togethers and a bump or two in the road, we have their debut. Opening with the buoyant and clear-headed Kenny Wheeler tune that serves as the name (and something of a directional beacon) for this collective ...