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Articles by John Kelman


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 ...


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 ...


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 (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 ...


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 ...


John Kelman's Best Releases of 2017

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For those who may have noticed, there have been no best of lists coming from yours truly since 2014; sadly, the chronic health problem that has reduced my previous writing pace to a crawl continues without much respite. My best of the year lists have always been predicated upon having reviewed the releases chosen, and with only 29 CD/Box set reviews to choose from this year (and with those choices, more than ever now, always representing music that moved me ...


Tom Guarna: The Wishing Stones

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An unfortunate reality for too many musicians--even those who are well-known--is that most of their audiences are aware of but a portion of their true work...their fullest capabilities. Recordings only tell part of the story, since artists often tour with groups that are never documented. And even those tours, for those fortunate enough to experience them, are often limited-run engagements--perhaps a few weeks in Europe here, a short tour of Japan there. Even in North America, given the vast distances ...


King Crimson: Sailors' Tales 1970-1972

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If it's a fundamental truth that adversity can sometimes bring the absolute best, creatively speaking, out of music and the people who make it, then the roughly 23 months following the release of King Crimson's classic 1969 debut, In the Court of the Crimson King (Island)--and, after a single North American tour, the breakup of its first lineup--could always be argued as producing some of the group's very best. This, despite a revolving-door lineup and, even, significant doubts and frustration ...


Bruford: Seems Like a Lifetime Ago 1977 - 1980

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With the plethora of box sets being issued these days with new masters and, perhaps even more importantly, new mixes of classic recordings, it was inevitable that the small but significant discography of drummer Bill Bruford's first steps into a solo career with his band Bruford should finally get the deluxe treatment. Seems Like a Lifetime Ago 1977-1980 not only covers the three studio and one live recording that this at-the-time completely unexpected and utterly distinctive surprise of a group ...


Jane Getter Premonition: ON Tour

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With the release of ON (Madfish/Snapper, 2015)--the debut album with her newly minted Premonition band--guitarist Jane Getter completed her move from the funk/fusion guitar workouts of her first two albums (1997's Jane and 2005's See Jane Run) towards a more progressive leaning which began with Three (Alternity, 2012). It's a move that the New York-based Getter has managed with considerable success--no doubt, to some extent, the result of her husband and only constant across all of her solo recordings, keyboardist ...


Anouar Brahem: Blue Maqams

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Following an unusually long, five-year gap between 2009's low register-driven The Astounding Eyes of Rita and 2014's particularly ambitious orchestral collaboration, Souvenance, Tunisian oudist Anouar Brahem returns with Blue Maqams, another game-changing release on ECM Records. Change--or, in some cases, natural evolution--has never been hard to find on Brahem's previous nine albums for the label, the oudist's consistent home (barring his soundtrack to The Silences of the Palace, release in 1994 by Caroline) since his ethno-centric trio date, Barzakh (1991). ...