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Articles by Franz A. Matzner

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Skuli Sverrisson: Strata

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A contemplative affair, Skuli Sverisson and Bill Frisell's Strata unfolds like a slow burning fire. The hovering notes and somber guitar lines evolve gradually, emerging like wind carved monuments visible through a hovering mist to reveal a stark, melancholic, and aridly beautiful landscape. The album demonstrates a fluid, masterful interaction between the two artists and maintains a distinct, consistent sound across its 10 selections. Throughout, economical choices sinuously articulate the work's overall pathos. With nothing wasted, the emotive ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

José James: Lean On Me

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Already known for his crisp production values, astute musicianship and eclectic presentations, Jose James delivers again with his tribute to Bill Withers, Lean on Me. The album reaffirms James' signature attention to stylistic pastiche while further refining his thematic focus on the subtleties of human relationships. Here James' narcotic blend is simultaneously steeped in tradition and floats at the horizon of modernity. The beats penetrate with unabashed eroticism. James' voice coos with soul and cuts with the dirty ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Aaron Shragge: This World of Dew

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The distinctiveness of This World of Dew stems equally from Aaron Shragge's technical mastery of the flugelhorn, dragon mouth trumpet, and Japanese Shakuhachi, his deep understanding of the traditions underpinning the Japanese aesthetic, and guitarist Ben Monder's ethereal, elongated harmonic syntax. Combined, these elements produce an immersive experience permeated by the sensibilities of the floating world; a sound-stage directly linked to the meditative practice of depicting and penetrating the esoteric pillars of impermanence, transience, and distillation that are ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Adrean Farrugia: Blued Dharma

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The duet outing Blued Dharma by pianist Adrean Farrugia and tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm is a nuanced affair suitable as background to a quiet evening but also worthy of closer reading. The title track epitomizes the whole. Contemplative, balanced, subtly blended, tonally stolid, inviting, consequential. Throughout the following seven pieces, the pattern of ruminative exchange continues. Farrugia and Frahm exhibit patient thematic development and fluid, comfortable interaction. Far from a cutting contest, the music reverberates with a common ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wes Montgomery: Wes Montgomery In Paris

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With Resonance Records' release of Wes Montgomery in Paris 1965, we receive not only the first official production of this classic concert to provide royalties to the Montgomery family, but also a gloriously remastered portrait of a seminal jazz contributor during a pivotal period of artistic history. Lovingly appointed with extensive commentary and an abundance of historic photos, the two-disc album documents the astounding concert by Wes Montgomery in Paris, which featured Montgomery backed by an astute working ...

PROFILES

Fabian Almazan: Environmental Action Figure

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This article was submitted on behalf of Melissa Denchak and originally published by the Natural Resources Defense Council. After nearly going extinct, vinyl has staged a billion-dollar comeback. This year, in a seventh year of double-digit growth, an estimated 40 million records have been pressed and sold globally, and the business forecast looks just as bright. Most record label owners are embracing the trend. But not Grammy-nominated pianist and composer (and environmentalist at heart) Fabian Almazan. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Satoko Fujii: Aspiration

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A descent into minimalist precision and emotive texture, Satoku Fuji's Aspiration bequeaths listeners with the depths of creativity that stems from residing on the edge of the avant-garde for decades. Which is precisely where music pioneers pianist Fuji, long-time trumpet partner Natsuki Tamura, electronica experimentalist Ikue Mori, and innovator Wadada Leo Smith remain.The album's six pulsating compositions are the result of the collaboration between these four artists as conceived by Fuji, but were born out of the participants ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Wadada Leo Smith At Firehouse 12

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Wadada Leo Smith Firehouse 12 Create Festival New Haven, Connecticut April 8-9, 2017 It is rare to experience the arc of a prolific artist's work while they are still active, and in the case of Wadada Leo Smith, to witness it at the simultaneous height of creative power and reflective composure. That privilege was offered by a two-day series presented at Firehouse 12 in New Haven, Connecticut. The event combined seminars and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dog Leg Dilemma: Not This Time

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A sonic cornucopia, Canadian electric jazz quartet Dog Leg Dilemma's debut Not This Timeunfolds like a deconstructed buffet. Bits and pieces of musical genres drop in and out of the album's seven compositions with John Woo freneticism, combining at seemingly random intervals as if someone swept the cutting room floor of a recording studio and then assembled the whole by pasting together the discards of everything from circus music, to German Om-pah bands, to reggae, to punk, to ambient soundscapes ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Modus Factor: The Picasso Zone

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Hollow, reverberant trumpet. Electric grooves. Ambient undertones. Infectious bass. Slippery electronic textures mixed with lithe improvisational flights. Modus Factor's debut The Picasso Zone is a stellar example of modern jazz's hybrid nature as well as the creative surge coming out of Canada's jazz scene of late.Conceived by drummer Chris Lesso and featuring Brownman Ali on electric trumpet and Ian de Souza on bass and effects, Modus Factor belongs firmly to the Miles Davis electric period branch of jazz. ...