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Articles by Geno Thackara

BEST OF / YEAR END

Geno Thackara's Best Releases of 2018

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Despite (or in defiant response to) the difficulties of the streaming age, 2018 has seen another musical bumper crop--especially for those of us who particularly love the sound of the piano. There were enough top-notch offerings to make a list at least twice as long, but these have been the most frequent and satisfying staples in the soundtrack of my year. On a side note: it's also worth quickly mentioning URO's OR and Audun Trio's Rondane (both on ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Vasil Hadzimanov Band: Lines in Sand

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Among work with half a dozen musical ensembles and a line in TV/film scoring, one has to wonder when Vasil Hadzimanov has time to sleep, let alone lead his own group. Nonetheless he's managed seven albums with this wildly ambitious electric fusion outfit as well. If the title and cover of Lines in Sand suggest something contemplative or new-agey with a nature theme... perish the thought. This high-energy crew is too busy throwing more things into their loud multicultural melting ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

3x3: Piano Trios, vol. III

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More evidence that three is truly a magic number, as explorations in this format remain as expansive and inventive as ever... Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ the Village Vanguard Palmetto Records 2018 Fine artists can aspire to appear in the Louvre someday. Comics might hope for a Las Vegas residency or a hosting spot on Saturday Night Live. The similar goal for quirky chefs might be a couple minutes of reality-show fame and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Daniel Rotem: Serenading the Future

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However scary the world seems, Daniel Rotem remains determined to look on the bright side. The jny: New York City saxophonist considers his music not just an art form but a reflection of life with a Zen-like perspective on time. Following suit, Serenading the Future is all about unity. Its framework is a simple one that allows a lovely, expressive emergent behavior from all involved. The multicultural cast all contribute as equal parts to the whole without needing any big ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Niculin Janett Quartet: Complexes

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Despite the connotations of its title, the sound of Complexes doesn't suggest anything excessively technical (or mental issues either, for that matter). The Niculin Janett Quartet's second recording is a largely sedate affair that stays semi-formless and yet always easy to follow--a resolutely modern mix of familiar swing and challenging abstraction. Even while the drift mostly happens at a leisurely tempo, the quartet's laser-like deliberation never wavers throughout. In that way the recording pleasantly evokes the less abrasive ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Torben Westergaard: Heart Tunes

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Though Denmark may serve as a home base, Torben Westergaard's musical home can be anywhere new songs and ideas take him. The bassist was figuratively reaching halfway around the world as far back as Brazilian Heart (Self Produced, 1996). Argentina became an unexpectedly prominent touchstone, as the exploratory Tangofied (Point of Departure, 2013) grew into a three-album series joining players from South America and Europe. Fascinating as that endeavor turned out to be, Westergaard clearly felt it was time again ...

LIVE FROM PHILADELPHIA

Aaron Goldberg Trio at @exuberance

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Aaron Goldberg Trio @exuberance jny: Philadelphia, PA November 23, 2018 It was a rollicking evening set full of jaunty rhythms and good humor. Aaron Goldberg clearly relished the rich sound of the Steinway and the feel of the room. A packed crowd had come out to unwind at the end of Black Friday--probably the fullest audience this two-year-old concert series has had to date--and the affair felt like the friendliest informal holiday ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

3x3: Piano Trios, vol. II

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Tubis Trio Flashback AudioCave 2018 Sophisticated chops? Check. Solid chemistry? Definitely. Knowledge of jazz tradition combined with determination to avoid sitting still? Of course. Maciej Tubis and his cohorts in the Tubis Trio certainly check all the proper boxes expected of a professional combo. Beyond that, though, they distinguish themselves with a sheer fun factor that's practically irresistible. With a palpable joy in playing and a string of melodic hooks catchy as all get-out, Flashback ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

All Over the Map with Losen Records

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Here's a quick trivia tidbit for the day: Losen is the Norwegian word for 'pilot.' See, you never know what you're going to learn clicking around the web. This jny: Oslo-based label is so named for its forward-thinking dedication to exploration, and the stream of offerings only seems to get more wide-ranging and inventive every year. John Faxe I Am Awake Losen Records 2018 It's hard to know what to think at first ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jake Hertzog & Yishai Fisher: Stringscapes: A Portrait of the World in Nylon & Steel

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It can't be easy to keep thinking of different places to go when one's career is already as eclectic as Jake Hertzog's, but he doesn't seem in any danger of running out of ideas. The guitarist has run an impressive gamut already, from the electric Pat Metheny-inspired fusion session Evolution (Buckyball, 2011) to the more straightforward jazz of Throwback (Zoho, 2013) and the conceptual solo outing Well Lit Shadow (Self Produced, 2016). Teaming up with classical guitarist Yishai Fisher for ...