Articles by Geno Thackara

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Piano in Solitude

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There are people who play the piano, and then there are some who create a whole other state of consciousness with it. While these three may not be among the more common household names in the jazz world, here they each offer a master class in the craft to make you wonder just why the hell not. Lewis Porter Solo Piano Next to Silence 2019 Bill Evans this ain't. There are some ...

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Baiju Bhatt: Eastern Sonata

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Is there a term for the opposite of culture shock? Whatever it is, it's also the guiding theme behind Baiju Bhatt and his Red Sun ensemble. Their studio debut, Eastern Sonata, is a figurative travelogue from start to finish, but there's nothing jarring or shocking about it. A conventional Western lineup (piano, bass/drums, saxophone) is led by Bhatt's always-fiery violin and enhanced with sitar, oud and other instruments. However exotic the sounds and compositions get, the result hits the ears ...

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Voices Without Words

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It's all too easy to forget the voice as an instrument in itself--arguably the most expressive one we have, especially if these examples are any indication. Here we have two offerings to remind us what mind-bending possibilities it can offer. Ikarus Mosaismic Ronin Rhythm Records 2019 A good architect can build a framework solid and sturdy enough to handle whatever burden it needs to. A truly artistic one can add any shapes ...

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Bruce Hornsby: Absolute Zero

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While the music world has plenty of explorers, Bruce Hornsby is still one of its most restless Marco Polos. Where he's often made a habit of bouncing from one thing to another for a whole album at a time--solo contemporary piano, yee-haw bluegrass, piano-less folk, jazz trio, film score and stage musical--he's in full, glorious, kitchen-sink mode this time around. Don't read too much into the title. Absolute Zero gleefully zips all over the style map with the exact opposite ...

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The London Ontological Orchestra: Hello Cleveland!: The London Ontological Orchestra Plays the Music of Spinal Tap

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The band may have been fictional, but the music is all real--and turns out to have an impressive staying power, even today. If you associate the name Spinal Tap with cheesy 1980s rock and roll, it's time to think again. The members of the London Ontological Orchestra (assembled and named in honor of the group's mystical interests) are stars well-known in the jazz world, though working pseudonymously here in the interest of highlighting the music foremost. The resulting Hello Cleveland! ...

JUST FOR FUN

ECM Records Announces Change in Name, Direction

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European label turns its eye toward the future as EDM. ECM Records will mark its golden anniversary with a defining change in direction, according to an announcement released today. After operating as Edition of Contemporary Music since its small-scale beginning in 1969, the eclectic European label has confirmed plans to adopt the new title Exciting Dynamic Music to signify a wholly revamped outlook. Though the new abbreviation EDM began as a simple typo in a promo poster mock-up, ...

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Nicoló Ricci: Pulcino

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It takes a confident saxophonist to step out in the classic trio format--no chordal instrument or frontline partner to share the load, just a strong trust in one's own skill and the backing of his bandmates. There's no one to hide behind, and everything is out in the figurative spotlight even when all three are sharing the load. For the Nicolò Ricci Trio, the setting isn't an intimidating one, but stimulating and full of possibilities. Their skill and chemistry are ...

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Dave Liebman: On the Corner Live!

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The idea is easy to dismiss at first glance. This is roughly the 127th Miles Davis homage to come along since tribute recordings became a widespread thing. It took a long time for the original On the Corner (Columbia, 1972) to gain acceptance with its thick relentless jungle-funk and lack of conventional melody, but it gradually became a touchstone that still stands without a scratch and impossible to imitate. Still, this one-off performance made a fresh and lively set for ...

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Daniel Herskedal: Voyage

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You know what they say: nothing opens doors and wins people over like playing an instrument. It can make the most unlikely artist into a star. It may seem like rock guitarists or charismatic saxophone players get most of the attention, but learn to handle a tuba and it can really take you anywhere. Maybe people don't quite say it like that, but it's still proven true for Daniel Herskedal. Voyage continues a scintillating travelogue that follows on ...

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3x3: Piano Trios, vol. IV

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Yonathan Avishai Joys and Solitudes ECM Records 2019 Though Yonathan Avishai isn't exactly alone on his debut as leader, half the recording is well suited to quiet times away from the world, or perhaps being enjoyed with minimal company--the trio at hand is comfortable with silence as any ECM ensemble should be. To suit its title, Joys and Solitudes alternates those contemplative spots with inviting pieces of timeless soft bop. It's a potentially conflicting mix ...

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John Swana / Tim Motzer / Doug Hirlinger: Channels

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It's a jungle in here. The atmosphere is thick and close, even when things are still. Strange creatures keep flitting through the trees and rustling the bushes. The air never stays quiet for very long amidst the eerie calls of strange birds. The here in this case is a landscape that is imaginary, but that makes it no less vivid, exotic and just occasionally hair-raising. The opening “Lost" makes being lost seem as fascinating as it is unnerving; ...

LIVE FROM PHILADELPHIA

Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Sirius Juju and Unspeakable Garbage at Jerry's on Front

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Mostly Other People Do the Killing/Sirius Juju/Unspeakable GarbageJerry's on Frontjny: Philadelphia, PAFebruary 16, 2019 Twenty blocks and a world away from the clubs and bars of Philadelphia's city center, the experimental art space of Jerry's on Front is a room one would hardly imagine for music at all. It's a nondescript one-car-garage-sized space squeezed into a row of shuttered storefronts, looking more suitable for a woodworking space or fly-by-night pawn shop. Dimness makes the bare ...


Oshun by Omar Sosa & Yilian Canizares

This music video features the track "Oshun," from the CD Aguas by Omar Sosa and Yilian Canizares. Its animated graphics were created using After Effects, Moho Pro, and Photoshop by Madrid-based Cuban artist Leonardo Perez Garcia and depicts the transforming and healing powers of the Yoruba water deity. The music video invites all of us to connect with the profound and life-sustaining properties of water in our own lives.

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