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Articles by Jim Olin

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Tobiasz Siankiewicz: Time To Begin

Read "Time To Begin" reviewed by Jim Olin

Not all debut albums are blooming with the self-confidence and boldness that saxophonist Tobiasz Siankiewicz displays on Time To Begin. But then there aren't many driven, direct and forward-thinking artists such as Siankiewicz with a passion and skill for timeless jazz tones, especially on a first time to bat. What's really amazing about his sound is definitely the fact that he maintains a high level of sophistication without compromising in terms of accessible appeal. In other words, this music is ...

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Derek Menchan: The Griot Swings the Classics

Read "The Griot Swings the Classics" reviewed by Jim Olin

Multi-instrumentalist Derek Menchan refers to them as “snapshots in black," and certainly the covers from the American Negro collection on The Griot Swings the Classics delivering a rich history lesson, especially in the context of the shocking racial division happening in the 21st century. But from just a pure musical standpoint, the album is strong and consistent from beginning to end regardless of context. Menchan is an artist who knows a thing or two about great melodies. He ...

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Rafa Selase: Red Blooded American

Read "Red Blooded American" reviewed by Jim Olin

Powerful lyrics and seamless melodies with a timeless feel define the new album from Rafa Selase, which bridges the gaps between folk, hip-hop, and jazz. It also echoes the pioneering spoken-word music of Gil Scott-Heron in its real and vivid poetry. As one can interpret from the title, Selase reflects on the social and political environment of living in America now. If Public Enemy was the CNN of inner cities, Selase is its literary observer. The songs on Red Blooded ...

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Long Time No Time: First Time Full Time

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The Canadian band Long Time No Time must have a fondness for wordplay. The title of their new album, First Time Full Time, is quite clever, already revealing that this five-piece band wants to have fun. It is also a group with a passion for combining the energy of rock with the intricacy of jazz. That's not an easy accomplishment, as many artists lean towards one or the other instead of getting the balance right. Long Time No Time certainly ...

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H & J Quintet: Reminisce

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H & J Quintet's Reminisce easily separates itself from most jazz releases with its heavy influence of Brazilian and ecclesiastical music, an original combination that already makes the album refreshing. The flute--not a common item in jazz circles--is also an integral part of their sound. Consisting of Berklee alumni, H & J Quintet is a contemporary jazz outfit with a unique sound. Their music is charming and direct, often mixing the sophistication of modern arrangements with the appeal of timeless ...

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John Trinckes and Linda Trinckes: A Crazy Jazzy Christmas

Read "A Crazy Jazzy Christmas" reviewed by Jim Olin

Florida-based John Trinckes and Linda Trinckes are not just a duo; they're a married couple. The two only met less than three years ago after losing their respective spouses but have been releasing a steady stream of music. The Trinckes have a life-long passion for sharing warm melodies and uplifting songs with their audience. They love jazz, fusion, oldies, and easy listening, and they captured elements of several different genres into their unique sound. Recently, they set out ...

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Sam Blakeslee Quintet: Selective Coverage

Read "Selective Coverage" reviewed by Jim Olin

Selective Coverage is a remarkable and forward-thinking release by the Sam Blakeslee Quintet. The project reaffirms the group's ability to break the patterns and explore new ideas, while staying true to the aesthetics of contemporary jazz. But beneath the technical precision and creative compositions is the deeper meaning of the album's title; it is inspired by the experiences of minorities, their struggles in how they are portrayed by the media and need for universal health care. One of ...

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Marcelo Maccagnan: Looking Ahead

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New York-based Marcelo Maccagnan is an artist whose music is a refreshing blend of different styles and creative ideas. On his latest album, Looking Ahead, Maccagnan has delivered a collection of exotic, sharply sculpted instrumentals that fascinate and awaken the senses. His electrifying bass playing casts a hypnotic spell but each of his fellow musicians are given opportunities to shine, too. On Looking Ahead, Maccagnan is able to seamlessly combine the inner elegance and warmth of jazz with ...

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Michon Young: Love, Life, Experiences, Vol. 2: Driving to Purpose

Read "Love, Life, Experiences, Vol. 2: Driving to Purpose" reviewed by Jim Olin

While a number R&B artists are pretty good and content at making fun, engaging, and catchy music, others actually love to go the extra mile and take a different direction. These artists are hoping and willing to inspire the audience as well as sharing their personal views and opinions on many different topics, including relationships and self-growth. This is most definitely the case with singer/songwriter Michon Young and her well-crafted new album, Love, Life, Experiences, Vol. 2: Driving to Purpose. ...

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Aya Ishida: Day by Day

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Aya Ishida has the kind of softly enveloping, fragile voice that can sing just about anything and make it instantly appealing. Her voice itself is an instrument, rising and lowering with the overall temperature of each track. It can soar or caress depending on the mood of the song. This New York jazz singer has a magnetic set of pipes, and her debut album Day by Day captures their ability to soothe the ears with crystalline production and tasteful musicianship. ...

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Charlie Rauh: Viriditas

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New York City-based composer/guitarist Charlie Rauh has a special take on his music, focused on the avant-garde side of jazz. His sound is laced with intriguing melodies and dynamic rhythms, inspired by genres as diverse as experimental and free improvisation, to mention a few. This eclectic and diverse creative approach that Rauh is able to introduce into his sound fuels the imagination, and it definitely sets the bar higher. His latest album Viriditas is a unique combination of gripping sonic ...

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Daniel Biro: 120 Onetwenty

Read "120 Onetwenty" reviewed by Jim Olin

Great music is all about passion, and this is definitely the fundamental ingredient behind Daniel Biro's heartfelt new release, 120 Onetwenty. This amazing music project really blurs the lines between a wide variety of styles, including ambient, instrumental experimental composition, jazz, and a lot more. Biro is proceeding forward while simultaneously looking to the past. His stated goal here is paying homage to the challenging, futurist vision of '70s and '80s synthesizer architects such as Vangelis and Kraftwerk as well ...