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Articles by John Kelman

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Theo Bleckmann: Elegy

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While ECM is a label largely renowned for its subtlety, attention to space and detail, and overall understated, “less is more" aesthetic--an early sampler titled, even, The Most Beautiful Sound Next To Silence--it's hard to imagine a label debut as a leader that could be less about virtuosity and more about creating soft atmospheres and ambiences than singer Theo Bleckmann's delicately moving, aptly titled Elegy. Bleckmann is no newcomer to the label: he was an important guest on ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ingrid and Christine Jensen: Infinitude

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While they've often recorded together over the years--from the collective Nordic Connect quintet and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen's early albums including Now as Then (Justin Time, 2003), to many of saxophonist Christine's recordings, from her two much-lauded Jazz Orchestra albums (most recently Habitat (Justin Time, 2014)) to earlier, small group dates including Look Left (Effendi, 2006)--the two Jensen sisters (separated by four years) have never recorded an album collaboratively, with both names sharing the marquee equally...until now. While sharing has never ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Abercrombie Quartet: Up and Coming

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Starting the new year with, if not precisely a bang, a nevertheless unforgettable record whose strength lies in pristine lyricism, nuanced group interplay and writing that capitalizes on the entire quartet's appreciation of subtlety over gymnastics and refined lyricism over angularity, John Abercrombie's Up and Coming--ECM's first release of the year--is also founded strongly on the concept of relationship. The guitarist has been playing with Marc Copland since the pianist's days in the early '70s as a saxophonist ...

REDISCOVERY

Greg Lake & Keith Emerson: Their Best Work Together

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While it should come as no surprise that musical heroes from across all genres are beginning to die off, some of the highest profile losses are, in particular, in the rock/pop world, where many of its biggest stars are now in their mid-to-late sixties...or older. Few would disagree that one of the years biggest losses happened just ten days into 2016, when David Bowie passed away at 69 just two days after the release of Black Star (Sony)--an album that ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dewa Budjana: Zentuary

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In retrospect, all paths have truly led to this. Four increasingly impressive recordings for Moonjune Records have brought Dewa Budjana together with a variety of high profile, top-drawer jazz musicians from the American west and east coasts. Each successive album, from 2013's Dawai in Paradise through to 2015's Hasta Karma, have found the Indonesian guitarist raising an already high bar with challenging yet eminently accessible compositions that, once the initial tracks were recorded, Budjana subsequently expanded in post-production with contributions ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Keith Jarrett: A Multitude of Angels

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The phrase “triumph of the human spirit" may be commonly used, but rarely in musical contexts. There have, however, been relatively recent examples of such achievements, like when Michael Brecker managed to not just make it into the studio, six months before he died from a fatal blood disorder in early 2007, but delivered one of the (if not the) best performances of his career, on the saxophonist's studio swan song, Pilgrimage (Heads Up, 2007). But a little ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

King Crimson: On (and Off) The Road

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Sometimes the best music--and some of the best bands--are those that come from the most difficult of births. When King Crimson co-founder/guitarist Robert Fripp had the idea for a new band after dissolving the last incarnation of the '70s-era Crimson lineups seven years prior, it was a completely new concept and, with the exception of returning drummer Bill Bruford, a totally revised lineup. Gone were the mellotrons and symphonic leanings of old. In their place: technological advancements including ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Enjoy Jazz 2016

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2016 Enjoy Jazz Festival Heidelberg, Mannheim & Ludwigshafen, Germany October 24-November 1, 2016 Returning to Heidelberg and the Enjoy Jazz Festival after a three-year absence is still more than a bit like returning to a second home. Not just the same hotel (the ever-charming Hollander Hof, along the Neckar River by an old footbridge), which has not only managed to retain most of its staff from 2009-13, but still remembers and assigns the same hotel room ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Yes: Tales from Topographic Oceans (Definitive Edition)

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It was the album that, based on challenges during the five months it took to record, should really never have come to pass. It was the album that broke a three studio album/one live recording winning streak of increasing critical acclaim. It was the album, when at least for some critics, suggested the group's seemingly endless wellspring of creative indulgences were beginning to cross over into excess. It was the album that began to divide the band's fanbase, for the ...


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