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Articles by Dr. Judith Schlesinger

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gary Alesbrook: Jazz In Movies

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This excellent debut by British trumpeter Gary Alesbrook is notable for four reasons: 1) he's leaping straight from well-known session musician to frontman; 2) he's been playing for 33 years, mostly for high profile, non-jazz bands in the UK like The Super Fuzzy Animals and The Scissor Sisters; 3) while eclectic in his taste and experience, he says “his heart lies in jazz music," and 4) the quartet is terrific, with three fine vocals as well. The standout there is ...

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Sambaranda: Delirios Vol. 1

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Sambaranda is an cappella group out of Sao Paulo, Brazil that melds a delicious tropical flavor with the very best of vocal jazz. Their first release was a Christmas album in November 2017. Although their second, Delirios Vol. 1, came out in July of 2017, it only recently arrived here, thanks to a copy sent from a friend in Sao Paulo. This was a lucky event, since there seems to be no publicist in sight (yet!). On Delirios ...

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Juan Andrés Ospina: Tramontana

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With his debut big band release, Tramontana--thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign--Colombian composer/bandleader Juan Andres Ospina has created a truly international project, featuring musicians from ten countries as disparate as Greece, Switzerland, Israel, and Columbia. Tramontana is the gale-force wind that lashes Spain's Costa Brava, clearing the skies for sweeping views of the Catalan mountains and sea. This wind inspired music that evokes a similar power, grandeur, and beauty, while offering a satisfying melodic ride from start to finish.

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Todd Strait: There'll Be Some Changes Made

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After recording more than a hundred albums for other people, including three that were Grammy nominated, drummer Todd Strait has finally released his first CD as a leader. With so many dedications to his relatives, it is clear that this record has been simmering for a long time. Well, it's finally cooked and served--and it's delicious. Strait has assembled an exceptional quartet, with Bill Mays on piano, who arranged all but the last track; the well-seasoned bassist Bob ...

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Jay Leonhart: Don't You Wish

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After experimenting with other instruments, a phase described in the title track, “Don't You Wish," Jay Leonhart locked onto the bass at the age of 13. Later inspired and mentored by the legendary Ray Brown, he began his stellar career which included playing with icons Duke Ellington, Judy Garland, Buddy Rich, Sarah Vaughan, Mel Torme, and Tony Bennett. Leonhart has also anchored well-known trios and led his own, honing his solid reputation as an exceptionally gifted and versatile musician.

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Brubeck Brothers Quartet: Timeline

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This album by the Brubeck Brothers--led by Chris and Dan Brubeck, sons of legendary pianist Dave Brubeck--commemorates the 60th anniversary of “President Eisenhower's Special International Program for Cultural Presentations," the 1958 State department tour in which prominent jazz musicians traveled to 14 countries to give 80 concerts in 90 days. This grueling schedule was endured by such luminaries as Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, and the Dave Brubeck Quartet. For Brubeck, the inspiration was mutual, reflected in compositions that ...

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Shelly Berg and David Finck: The Deep

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So it happens that pianist Shelly Berg and bassist David Finck were hired by Chesky Records to play on a Livingston Taylor album. After they finished that session, with the high-end audiophile equipment still in place, David Chesky suggested the two stay and make a duo album themselves. And so they did, virtually on the spot. Since Berg and Finck play so well together, and know a lot of tunes, it was easy to come up with a ...

INTERVIEWS

David Finck: The Bass, Scatting Offenses, and the Back Hoe

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David Finck is not only a first-call bassist with a long resume of high-profile recordings and gigs, but he's one of the most versatile musicians on any instrument. Finck has been in the studio, touring, and/or sharing the world's greatest stages with everyone from Andre Previn to Ivan Lins, Woody Herman to Natalie Cole and Kenny Rankin, and Elton John and George Michael. He's on all four of Rod Stewart's platinum albums. In recent years Finck has expanded ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tony Kadleck Big Band: Tony Kadleck Big Band: Around the Horn

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One of the best and most unique things about All About Jazz is that discovering wonderful music is not limited to the narrow window around someone's release date. Whenever you stumble on something especially delicious, you can share your sentiments about it--and even if another reviewer has gotten there first. The route by which I got turned on to trumpeter Tony Kadleck's big band CD, Around the Horn, two years after its 2014 debut, was a tad more ...

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Joe Ascione and His Brave New World

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Author's Note: All About Jazz is sad to report the passing of spirited drummer Joe Ascione who battled Multiple Sclerosis for 20 years. In this encore presentation of a 2004 interview, Joe talks about the challenges of his new reality and shows his courageous determination to fight through them. Joe Ascione is a first-call, universally-respected drummer who has been on about 70 records to date. In one of their frequent bizarre choices, the All Music Guide to Jazz ...