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Articles by John Kelman

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brand X: Locked & Loaded

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There are a great many bands whose lineups have been so fluid that keeping track of who was in the band when is no mean feat. Few bands have, however, had as complicated a history as Brand X. Even in its latest re-reincarnation, there's been a lineup shift between the high octane fusion group's January, 2017 performance documented on But wait...There's more!, released independently the same year, and Locked & Loaded, culled largely from a show just five months later ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nicolas Masson: Travelers

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Following two recordings for ECM Records as a member of the cooperative Third Reel (including the trio's self-titled 2013 debut), reed multi-instrumentalist Nicolas Masson strikes out on his own with Travelers, his first album as a leader for the label. Third Reel's Swiss/Italian lineup of reeds, guitar (Roberto Pianca) and drums (Emanuele Maniscalco), along with its emphasis on collaboration and interaction over individual focus and overt virtuosity, has rendered the trio the torch bearer for the late Paul ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sonar with David Torn: Vortex

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It might be all too simple to explain away Sonar, the Swiss twin-guitar/bass/drums quartet now in its eighth year together, through a series of touchstones. King Crimson, by way of that band's co-founder/guitarist Robert Fripp's Guitar Craft? Check. The influence of Nik Bartsch and Don Li's innovative meshing of Steve Reich-ian minimalism with deceptively complicated polyrhythmic and isorhythmic rock/funk grooves, where as much as can be is made of as little as possible? Double Check. Guitarist and primary composer Stephan ...

DVD/FILM REVIEWS

The Moody Blues: Days of Future Passed Live

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The Moody Blues Days of Future Passed LiveEagle Vision 2018 For an album that was, according to surviving members of the Moody Blues (guitarist/vocalist Justin Hayward, bassist/vocalist John Lodge and drummer Graeme Edge), recorded in a mere seven days, Days of Future Passed (Deram, 1967) remains one of the early masterpieces of progressive rock, in addition to becoming a relatively constant (and big) seller. There may, however, be a couple of myths behind ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

King Crimson: Live In Vienna, December 1st, 2016 (UK Edition)

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Another year, another live King Crimson set? True, perhaps. But since reforming in a slightly shifting but conceptually constant form in 2013 to begin touring in the fall of the following year, the band's forward-looking, ever-growing repertoire of new music and revisitation of old music (from across its nearly half century career) made new again has been documented solely through live recordings. It's entirely appropriate, in fact, given the band's only remaining co-founder, guitarist/keyboardist Robert Fripp's longtime assertion that Crimson's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Khan: Public Access / Headline / Crossings

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It's been a great couple of years for Steve Khan fans who are (relatively) new to the guitarist's work, especially his early releases, thanks to UK-based BGO Records. First, his '70s-era trio of fusion-centric LPs on Columbia Records, 1977's Tightrope, 1978's The Blue Man and 1979's Arrows, were remastered and reissued in a 2015 two-CD set, Tightrope / The Blue Man / Arrows. As fine as those records are, however, BGO's 2016 reissue of Khan's early '80s triptych, which has ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Frisell: Music IS

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The tradition of solo jazz guitar recordings is a long one, with guitarists like Johnny Smith, Al Viola, George Van Eps, Lenny Breau and Joe Pass demonstrating just how far a mere six (in some cases, seven) strings could be taken on their own as far back as the 1950s. Subsequent guitar soloists like John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner went even further by, at times, taking advantage of the recording studio's facility to overdub layers of guitar to create even ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Adam Holzman: Truth Decay

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Truly a musician's musician, Adam Holzman's career, visibility-wise, has waxed and waned over the keyboardist's thirty-year career, but he's never been less than busy. His time spent with Miles Davis, during the last years of the music icon's life, helped raise the masterful and broad-reaching keyboardist/producer's profile. Certainly, based on his work with jazz artists including Davis protégée Wallace Roney, Davis reissue producer/saxophonist Bob Belden, Grover Washington Jr. and Michel Petrucciani from 1989 to 2010, Holzman has kept plenty of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sigurd Hole: Elvesang

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Sigurd Hole has already built a strong reputation, in his native Norway, for his work with Eple Trio on albums including The Widening Sphere of Influence (NORCD, 2008), in addition to the trio's collaborations with NORCD label head/saxophonist/goat horn master Karl Seglem on albums like NORSKjazz.no (NORCD, 2012). The double bassist has also collaborated with guitarist Jon Eberson (criminally undervalued outside of Norway) and pianist Helge Lien, and has built a busy schedule as a recording and touring musician, in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

ECV: Sticks and Stones

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While a somewhat common secondary instrument for primarily electric guitarists including Vic Juris, Pat Metheny and Adam Rogers, there are but a handful of jazz six-stringers alive today who make the nylon-string acoustic guitar their main axe. Despite being known to pick up a warm-toned hollow body electric guitar when the need arises, jny: Ottawa, Canada-based Roddy Ellias is, like the better-known Ralph Towner, a guitarist who has made its gentler acoustic cousin, played with fingers rather than plectrum, his ...