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Articles by Glenn Astarita

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

District 5: Decoy

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Without getting too far into the initial spin of this record, it became apparent that the musicians of District 5 emit impressions of youth, armed with a penchant for adventure and unbridled momentum. Soon afterwards, the assumption was confirmed: the Swiss artists are--via information gleaned from a press pitch on Intakt Records website--in their twenties. Heartiness, a willingness to take chances and veer towards an uncommon pathway are attributes that seed the nucleus of the ensemble's operative approach.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Aram Shelton & Håkon Berre: Dormancy

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San Francisco Bay Area resident, alto saxophonist Aram Shelton and Norwegian drummer/percussionist Håkon Berre recorded this dynamic session in a studio outside of Copenhagen. Each musician is highly respected in their home turf and beyond, although Shelton has led bands and collaborated with the crème de la crème of fearless improvising risk-takers in the US since the 1990s. On this venture, the duo conveys a synchronous relationship as they challenge, mimic and push each other throughout these largely jolting improvisations. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Z-Country Paradise: Live in Lisbon

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The multinational quintet revs up the audience on this wild and scruffy excursion that skirts a misty demarcation between punk jazz and avant-garde improvisation along with off-kilter jazz rock tendencies. Vocalist Jelena Kuljic's guileful and emotive iterations instill hip, Beat Generation-like narratives in concert with the band's jarring and edgy grooves via some recoiling breakouts and oscillating storylines. Indeed, the formidable frontline of esteemed reedman, Frank Gratkowski--a longtime Leo Records artist--and ace guitarist Kalle Kalima infuse their distinct ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Man From Ravcon: Another World

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The Man From RavCon, aka Mike Brown, fuses new and old ambient-electronic techniques, phrasings and textures with tight rock grooves amid his gifts as a supreme melody-maker. Based in Charlotte, NC., he was a member of a power-pop unit known as The Ravelers. Brown is a multi-instrumentalist who unleashes his third solo venture with an enticing mix of works that straddle various rock and electronics-centric offshoots with radio-friendly tunes, accentuating his insightful composing skills. Brown's catchy hooks and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nirvana: Black Flower

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This is not a newly unearthed recording by the Seattle-based grunge rock band, Nirvana. Hence, this Nirvana was a short-lived progressive pop unit that formed in 1965, led by the duo of Irishman Patrick Campbell-Lyons and Greek composer Alex Spyropoulos, both supplying the vocals. Once again, UK-based Cherry Red Records stokes the olden flames to remaster unsung titles from the late 1960s and 1970s, predominately for staunch allies of the classic prog era. For some, these reissues are akin to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Thomas Kolarczyk Ensemble: Halbtraume

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Germany-based Double Moon Records' long-running series, “JazzThing: The Next Generation" places a spotlight on young European talent attempting to break into the modern jazz rank and file. Indeed, there have been some gems in this series of albums. Here, bassist Thomas Kolarczyk's Ensemble, comprised of German and Polish jazz artists, marks the 72nd volume, and is undeniably one of the top outings culled from this ongoing series. With a four-woodwind attack, sans the chordal component, Kolarczyk looms as a nascent ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Hashima: The Haywain

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This Serbian band often develops passages with the impetus and intent of a hunter stalking its prey. With asymmetrical jazz-rock, punk-jazz and free-form excursions amid Balkan folk themes, the musicians' animated buildups and intertwining motifs are anchored by drummer Aleksander Hristic and bassist Vanja Todorovic power-packed grooves and fluent outbreaks. As the band's second album reaffirms its distinct personality with imaginative song-forms, deriving inspiration from The Haywain Triptych panel painting by Hieronymus Bosch. Nascent Portuguese trumpet star Susanna ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Barrett Martin: Transcendence

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Former Grammy Award winner Barrett Martin is a musical renaissance man. He's a busy session artist for film, TV, and has supported name acts amid his membership in several rock bands. However, Martin's compositional skills shine on this revved-up outing that is reminiscent of the burgeoning jazz fusion scene of the 1970s, when musicians integrated rock, funk and soul into the jazz vernacular. But Martin also imparts a modern sheen into these largely groove-laden works, packed with endearing hooks and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jonas Cambien: We Must Mustn't We

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Veteran Clean Feed roster artist Jonas Cambien (piano) and colleagues morph a cohesive yet uncanny take on jazz experimentation that defies rigid categorizations. For example, on “Swear Like A Bear" they integrate stammering chord voicings, popping sax lines, oblique world groove percussion patterns, melodic hooks and odd-metered time signatures into tangible sub-themes. The musicians merge convention with acutely placed schisms, and manage to churn out oeuvres that subtly span multiple genres. Each piece is a standalone entity, but there are ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dave Gisler: Rabbits on the Run

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Young Swiss guitarist Dave Gisler (Christoph Irniger's Pilgrim, Weird Beard) is gradually climbing the guitar hero stairwell, reaffirmed by this captivating trio date with his prominent fellow countrymen providing the oomph and pizazz throughout. And for those who need comparisons, think of Gisler's style skirting the peripheries of Sonny Sharrock, Jimi Hendrix and Bill Frisell, along with dabs of psyche-rock. With bassist Raffaele Bossard's thumping and supple undercurrents amid drummer Lionel Friedli's power-packed beats and pummeling outbreaks, the guitarist reaps ...