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Articles by Dr. Judith Schlesinger

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

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.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

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 ...

INTERVIEWS

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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kim Nazarian: Some Morning

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Kim Nazarian is one of a kind. Sure, there are other singers with lovely voices, great ears and impeccable time, but not many as warm and open on stage; there are even fewer who can phrase a lyric the way she does, so that you believe every word. A founding member of the New York Voices, Nazarian supplies the sweet soprano at the top of their peerless blend, as well as most of the bubbly, joyful energy that makes the ...

NITE & DISK

Eliane Elias: Made in Brazil - Swung at Birdland

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Eliane Elias is a paradox. An artist of rare talent, experience, and range, she is a keyboard master with few peers whose deep musicality transcends genre. An astonishing singer, composer, arranger, and songwriter, her performances are celebrated for their swing, lyricism, and unique sound. Elias is also a beautiful woman with long blond hair who's been known to kick off her stiletto heels to play the piano barefoot. I expect some people will have difficulty reconciling the pin-up cover of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rick Waldron: Africa

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Even before a single note of Africa hits the air, the long list of instruments played by leader/composer Rick Waldron suggests that something unusual is afoot. For his fourth CD Waldron, who has chaired the music department at Everett Community College since 1990, has created a lively and intricate session that defies easy description. There's reason to expect some traditional jazz, given that Waldron earned a Master's degree in composition from North Texas State, one of the best ...