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Articles by Glenn Astarita

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Francois Houle - Alexander Hawkins - Harris Eisenstadt: You Have Options

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The late co-founder of the Vancouver Jazz Festival, Ken Pickering, recommended British pianist Alexander Hawkins to consummate this trio featuring Canadians: drummer Harris Eisenstadt (drums) and clarinetist Francois Houle. And, based on the output of this exquisite studio set, it was a sound decision to align with the pianist, who for several years has performed with Eisenstadt in the Convergence Quartet. Houle's melodious lines occasionally adopt flotation-like aspects, as the trio executes staggered asynchronous grooves with quaint shifts ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Delta Saxophone Quartet: Bowie, Berlin & Beyond

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This first-rate UK-based saxophone quartet has been in existence since 1984, and it is celebrated for its thought-provoking reimagining of well-known works from progressive rock icons such as King Crimson on Crimson! (Basho Music, 2016), and a cunning slant on Soft Machine, Dedicated to You... But You Weren't Listening (Moonjune, 2007). Here, the musicians derive inspiration from David Bowie's Berlin years and the significance of his association with producer, composer and trailblazing ambient-electronic artist, Brian Eno. The immaculate ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jonathan Finlayson: 3 Times Round

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As a solo artist, trumpeter/composer Jonathan Finlayson (Steve Coleman, Henry Threadgill) has been forging a rapid growth-pattern, conspicuously illustrated here, on his third release for Pi. On his previous solo outings for the label, Finlayson was the lone horn player with his band Sicilian Defense. Now, he broadens his scope by employing eminent saxophonists, Steve Lehman and Brian Settles. Indeed, it's an all-star aggregation of like-minded cohorts, who are willing to take risks with the utmost verve and intensity.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rent Romus: Deciduous/Midwestern Edition Vol. 1

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This West Coast USA experimental record label always spreads its wings. Part of the fun is anticipating what comes next. Here, label head and distinguished multi-reedman Rent Romus and musical associates pay homage to the avant-garde jazz spirit of the Midwest, citing the birthplace for AACM and innovators such as Albert Ayler, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and others. Romus also advises in the press release that this is an ongoing project as the album title would indicate.Most of these ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Eclectic Maybe Band: The Blind Night Watchers' Mysterious Landscapes

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Among other positive opinions, UK-based Discus Music cranks out one audiophile quality album after another. The experimental label does not cut corners, and taking into consideration the disparate soundstages, tonal attributes and instrumentation, the music often simulates 3D-like sonic characteristics. These factors also come in handy when demoing stereo equipment at your local high-end dealer. Otherwise, The Eclectic Maybe Band created these gems via an instantaneous compositional approach, where jazz meets rock, and musical syntaxes possibly emanating from distant galaxies. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tone Masseve: Amp L'étude

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This is a posthumous release by guitarist Tone Masseve, whose vision led him to reformulate celebrated classical pieces by Chopin, Bach and others into the rock idiom. At the time, Masseve said, “In my childhood I was exposed to many different musical styles and genres. Although I am really a blues player, I also love the music of Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, Chopin and Debussy. I wanted to play their classical pieces with a rock sound and attitude." Sadly, Masseve ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Evil Genius: Experiments on Human Subjects

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It would be an uplifting experience to see this trio go at it in a live setting. For those who need comparisons, think of a cross-pollination between some of John Zorn-produced kinetic avant-garde jazz fusion, psych and rock ensembles along with Frank Zappa influences, and punk jazz groups. Guitarist Max Kutner is the lead guitarist of the Magic Band, performing the music of Captain Beefheart while also working with renegade guitarist Henry Kaiser, trumpeter Daniel Rosenboom and the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Solon McDade: Murals

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This is the debut release by ace Canadian bassist and Juno Award winner, Solon McDade. And it's a welcome surprise, to say the least. Think of classic small ensemble Prestige or Blue Note recordings with a modern uplift and state-of-the-art recording processes to conjure a good idea of the quintet's deportment and stylization. McDade is an impressive composer, demonstrated via these effervescent, buoyant and melodic works, to complement the quintet's first-rate musicianship and inimitable synergy. With bop phraseology, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Schnell: Live at Sowieso

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This international trio spares no effort with its plight to create hyper-mode bebop like gamma rays streaming through the universe at light speed. It's a rather amazing live set, that was probably meant to be performed in front of an audience and not in a cloistered studio setting. To say it's invigorating doesn't tell the whole story. Saxophonist Pierre Borel offers many lessons here, largely steeped in intensely focused attacks, where he dishes out a menagerie of stunning improvisational movements, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Walking Distance feat. Jason Moran: Freebird

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New York-based Walking Distance garners the benefits of upper echelon pianist Jason Moran appearing on select tracks. The ensemble sparks memories of older, Charlie Parker-inspired ensembles like Supersax, featuring saxophonists Warne Marsh, Med Flory and many others. But this young band doesn't mimic or perform hard bop with a strict allegiance to the infancy of this idiom, as they propel matters into a futuristic game plan on this rousing set. Invigorating compositions and a few unorthodox methodologies ...