Articles by John Kelman

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

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These days, there's a plethora of recordings, originally made for radio or television broadcast, being released by labels ranging from thoroughly legit to highly suspect.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 ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Chick Corea: The Musician

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As people age, it's not uncommon to commemorate birthday milestones--specifically, those marking the passing of decades--with special celebrations, ranging from parties to vacations. In most cases, however, these festivities are private events, restricted to family and friends. Not Chick Corea. When this renowned pianist/keyboardist, composer, bandleader and guest participant in countless projects since emerging on the scene in the early '60s--Cab Calloway was his first professional hire, but was quickly eclipsed by gigging and recording with ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Allan Holdsworth: The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever!

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In a time when album sales are a challenge being mitigated, at least to some extent, by the release of deluxe editions and box sets, it's still more necessary than ever to grab potential listeners with imagery and words; the title of a box set can have, especially for those less than intimately familiar with the artist, either real attraction or, well, the opposite. And, at a time when more music than ever is being released (and for a myriad ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Alex Cline's Flower Garland Orchestra: Oceans of Vows

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Despite being a key participant in the “Left Coast" scene of more avant-leaning music from the American west coast--in particular, part of the Cryptogramophone imprint that, while less active than in its “glory days" during the first years of the new millennium--Alex Cline releases so infrequently as a leader that any new music from the percussionist/composer is worthy of attention. That he has flown so far under the radar, in recent years, that his last Cryptogramophone release, 2013's For People ...

DVD/FILM REVIEWS

Bill Frisell: A Portrait

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Bill Frisell Bill Frisell: A Portrait A Film by Emma Franz2017 Not long after the film Bill Frisell: A Portrait begins to roll, Bonnie Raitt--one of the many high profile names that lend their thoughts about one of the most influential guitarists and composers of the past forty years to the film, in this guitarist/singer/songwriter's case, having enlisted him as a guest on her last two albums (2012's Grammy Award-winning Slipstream and 2016 follow-up ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Wingfield Reuter Stavi Sirkis: The Stone House

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At a 2009 ECM @ 40 celebration in Mannheim, Germany that was part of the ongoing Enjoy Jazz Festival, Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava spoke, in a public interview, about how free jazz, back in the day, wasn't really free. There were rules: no time and/or no changes, for example; with memorable melodies not impossible, but not encouraged. Rava continued on to enthuse that now, in the 21st Century, free jazz really is free: if you want to play time, you ...


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