Articles by John Kelman

LIVE REVIEWS

TD Ottawa Jazz Festival 2017

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TD Ottawa Jazz Festival Ottawa, Canada June 23-26, 2017 Amongst the most significant challenges that face any festival is, as the gray and no-hair crowd continues to age, finding ways to cultivate and grow a younger audience. But when you're a Canadian festival, another major challenge is a simple fiscal fact: most artists--even those coming from farther afield like Europe and Asia--expect payment in American funds, and with the Canadian loonie currently resting at about 75 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Oregon: Lantern

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Despite having to replace percussionists a couple of times since its inception in 1970, Oregon's otherwise consistent lineup of reed/woodwind multi-instrumentalist Paul McCandless, guitarist/pianist/primary composer Ralph Towner and double bassist Glen Moore remained unchanged for forty-five years--surely some kind of record in the jazz world. And with current drummer/percussionist Mark Walker joining the group for 1997's Northwest Passage (Intuition), Oregon has, over the last two decades, enjoyed its longest-standing lineup. Until 2015, that is, when it was announced, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

SFJAZZ Collective: Live: SFJAZZ Center 2016 - Music of Miles Davis & Original Compositions

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In the thirteen years since the SFJAZZ Collective first came together in February 2004, this revolving door octet (septet, in 2009) of “cream of the crop" US-based jazz musicians has, most years, followed a consistent modus operandi: select a well-known jazz (and, in two cases, beyond jazz) musician and pay tribute through innovative arrangements of his/her music, alongside a set of new original compositions--in almost every case, one each contributed by every member of the Collective. In the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Theo Travis: Open Air

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It's been a very busy decade for Theo Travis. The British reed/woodwind multi-instrumentalist has appeared, to varying degrees, on literally every album that Steven Wilson has released since turning to a solo career in 2009--from Insurgentes and 2011's Grace for Drowning (Kscope), through 2013's best-selling The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories), 2015's commercial breakthrough Hand. Cannot. Erase. and 2016's interim EP, 4 1/2 (all on Kscope)--while touring the world for three years with the rising progressive rock ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Larry Coryell's 11th House: Seven Secrets

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Time truly is fleeting; just look at the circumstances surrounding the release of Larry Coryell's Seven Secrets, the guitarist's first studio release with his 11th House group in 41 years. The idea for reuniting this seminal '70s fusion group first came in 2015, when the lineup for a previously booked one-week engagement at New York's The Blue Note club unexpectedly fell through. Rather than cancel, Coryell suggested bringing most of the 11th House's original members back together--trumpeter Randy ...

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Quercus: Nightfall

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It may have taken seven years for the innovative British trio featuring singer June Tabor, saxophonist Iain Ballamy and pianist Huw Warren to find a label and release their first album together, but they sure landed on their feet. Not only was the trio's 2013 debut, Quercus, released on the renowned ECM imprint; it was also enthusiastically received by critics and fans alike, winning that year's prestigious German record critics' Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, Jahrespreis (Album of the Year). And ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Louis Sclavis / Dominique Pifarély / Vincent Courtois: Asian Fields Variations

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Few artists on the ECM roster reinvent themselves as regularly--and with such consistent success--as Louis Sclavis. While it is true that the French clarinetist (and occasional soprano/baritone saxophonist) often draws (and re-draws) from a gradually expanding pool of musicians, there are few label mates who have released as many albums as Sclavis, where the lineups literally change with each and every album. In fact, the closest he's come to repeating the same lineup back-to-back has been with his most recent, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jaco Pastorius: Truth, Liberty & Soul Live in New York: The Complete NPR Jazz Alive! Recording

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These days, there's a plethora of recordings, originally made for radio or television broadcast, being released by labels ranging from thoroughly legit to highly suspect. In some instances, these are real archival finds; true gold, mined from hours of hours of recordings, lovingly restored and packaged. In other cases they're clearly nothing but money grabs. Capitalizing on old contracts with holes in them the size of a Mack truck, these cheaply packaged, sonically acceptable but far from stellar releases muddy ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Frisell / Thomas Morgan: Small Town

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In Emma Franz's revelatory documentary, Bill Frisell: A Portrait, the guitarist talks about the many guitars he owns, and how he rarely gets to plays them--the consequence, amongst other things, of the plight musicians face when traveling by air these days. Not three months after the film's premiere at South By Southwest this past March, comes Small Town--a live recording from New York's heralded Village Vanguard that represents a number of firsts for the veteran guitarist. It's Frisell's ...


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