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Articles by Glenn Astarita

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Herd of Instinct: Drone Priest

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This Texas-based progressive rock unit celebrates its fourth release, featuring multi-instrumentalist Gayle Ellett, from legendary Southern California prog rock band Djam Karet. In addition, former Miles Davis (and current Steven Wilson) keyboardist Adam Holzman lends his laudable faculties on two tracks via his ring modulated Rhodes and burly Moog solos. Warr guitarist/composer Mark Cook also layers keys, guitar and bass parts into the grand schema. And while the core band members perform on select tracks, Cook advises that he, “wrote/recorded ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Martin Archer + Engine Room Favourites: Safety Signal From A Target Town

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Once again, British multi-reedman Martin Archer leads his large ensemble, Engine Room Favourites, through a myriad of persuasive developments. The band's assertive modus operandi is occasionally sectionalized during various motifs, where minimalist structures, free-form outbursts, structured horns charts and many other factors come into play. Indeed, they pack a mighty wallop coming from all angles on this 76-minute program. Vibraphonist Corey Mwamba is a colorist via his cool and sleek passages during more conventional modern jazz segments. Yet ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Moss - Accidental Orchestra: Helix

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Veteran New York City-based free jazz acolyte, multi-instrumentalist Michael Moss (Sam Rivers, Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner) maximizes the talents of his large ensemble via these simmering works designed with organized and loosely articulated dialogues. The ensemble kicks it off with the swirling and glaring “Inception," which is also tinted with a world music vibe due to revered tabla artist Badal Roy who offsets the flow during the bridge, leading to undulating horns and a loose groove free bop ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Settings For Three: No Fast Food

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It would be easy enough to cite this trio as a veritable jazz supergroup. And as one would surmise, the musicians give it their best shot. It's the trio's third album and first not recorded from a live performance. Here, legendary reedman David Liebman uses various flutes and saxophones, yet this is a democratic engagement where each player serves a crucial role. Indeed, their insightful improv tactics and acute communications rule the roost via somber ballads and popping funk vamps, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Christophe Monniot & Le Grand Orchestre du Tricot: Jericho Sinfonia

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Prize-winning French composer / saxophonist Christophe Monniot and Le Grande Orchestra du Tricot impart the element of surprise on this rapidly moving endeavor that includes spoken word dialogues at various intervals throughout the program. However, all the text is presented in French on the CD package, and the same is true for the spoken word narratives. Yet Stephane Berland of Ayler Records summarized the storyline that references the Old Testament, a Pasolini interview, and a scientific take on vibration (wave ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Silvan Schmid Quintet: At Gamut

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30-year-old Swiss trumpeter Silvan Schmid performs at a level of ingenuity and craftiness that some listeners might consider out of the ordinary for such a young artiste. Nonetheless, he's developed a mature and rather cunning compositional style. Among other noteworthy aspects, Schmid employs tubaist Lucas Wirz and cellist Silvan Jeger to build the lower-register bass parts with expansive flows and malleable sound designs. They also enjoy soloing opportunities amid the brazen choruses embedded with subtle melodies and odd-metered unison sprees. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Strawbs: The Ferryman's Curse

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This beloved British progressive rock band started as a bluegrass unit in 1964 under the moniker, The Strawberry Hill Boys. But they shortened the group name to the Strawbs in 1967, when they soon morphed into the wonderful world of prog and enjoyed radio success integrating folk and related genres into its burgeoning signature sound. With its first album in eight years, leader/co-founder Dave Cousins realigns with his longtime musical associates, supplemented by keyboardist/guitarist Dave Bainbridge for a presentation flowing ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Henry Kaiser - Ed Pettersen: We Call All Times Soon

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Listening to these experimental guitar duets may relegate daily life to an out of sight, out of mind condition. Thus, world-renowned avant-garde guitarist Henry Kaiser is also noted for his TV and film scores. And adventurous genre-hopping artist Ed Pettersen uses an 8-string Weissenborn-style lap steel guitar to help fuse an oscillating soundtrack for one's psyche on this captivating studio effort. Whereas, Kaiser's 19-string harp guitar work generates a constant flow of reverberating soundscapes, as the duo renders a spellbinding ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bobby Previte: Rhapsody

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Distinguished drummer Bobby Previte is a renaissance man who composed, arranged and penned the lyrics on this impressive program. In addition, he supplements his rhythmic contributions with various percussion implements, guitar, autoharp and harmonica. The premise behind Rhapsody relates to Previte's viewpoint about travel and marks the second in a three- part series that originated in 2011 with Terminals Part I: Departures (Cantaloupe Music). Here, the artist uses an all-star lineup of pioneers accustomed to deviating from conventional norms.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yoni Kretzmer's New Dilemma: Months, Weeks and Days

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Tenor saxophonist Yoni Kretzmer is not one to rest on his laurels or pursue straight and narrow musical paths as his discography consists of various ensemble configurations and objectives. With this hybrid chamber jazz and improvisation-based sextet, the musicians interpret the leader's compositions, structures and outlines via improvisational means. The ensemble delves into the experimental scheme of things, although these pieces do project semi-structured vibes, topped with gradual buildups, streaming strings passages and elongated unison choruses. Along with ...